Back to the Studio is a series of interview-based chapters on Australian radio and TV sporting commentators, by Peter Meares.
Not a hard read, it’s good for getting for a trip where you can meander in and out, or just have it lying round the house, to have there for a chapter here, a chapter there.
Meares makes it clear at the outset he’s not interested in horse or car racing and so his interviewees come from the world of cricket, rugby, AFL, league, football (soccer) and general commentators, many from the ABC.
This 2011 edition is an update of Meares’ All Piss and Wind from 2008, and while I didn’t read that one, I must admit I was still scratching my head as to how Norman May could get a gig in this book, but people like Brian Taylor (3AW) and Gerard Whateley (ABC Grandstand) could not. Then again, I’m in Melbourne, so are both those commentators and Meares isn’t – so it could be a regional thing.
The choice of commentators actually annoyed me a little. Max Walker, in all fairness, hasn’t been on Nine for years; Darrell Eastlake’s no longer on TV; and Peter Donegan isn’t someone who immediately springs to mind as a well-known commentator any more. It’s the author’s choice who goes in, and who doesn’t – but for mine, it’s a bit old school commentator-types and for three or four commentators who weren’t full time or regularly commentating on well-known stations, people like Whateley, Taylor, Stephen Quartermain and perhaps a Luke Darcy, for instance, could have come into the book.
The chapters on each commentator, are, however, interesting – a good, quick background and then some anecdotes and insights. A key theme from the ABC and former ABC commentators was the role people like Alan McGilvray played in the development of the ABC’s commentary style, and how people change stations.
This is a book for Australian sports devotees, and particularly those who, like me, are just about welded to the ABC’s coverage of sport. Many current and former ABC commentators are featured – but not all. Again, it’s all personal preference and familiarity.
If you like sport, like listening and have an interest in the people behind the commentating this is a good, take on the plane or read at leisure book. If you don’t like sport – don’t bother.