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David Watson, Treasurer and newsletter copying team. Member since 2009
Since retiring . . . well, let’s say fully retiring, as semi-retirement is just a rest . . . I have been busily engaged with grandchildren, U3A and travel around Australia.
I am not sure how the idea of joining U3A in 2009 took root, but the seed was planted many years ago, perhaps in the ‘80s when the founding group first had publicity in Australia. At that time, I was in my early forties, feeling refreshed and again enjoying my preferred profession in radio broadcasting in provincial Victoria.
As a Western suburbs boy born and bred, my first real job, in the field of electronics, was as a telephone ‘Technician in Training’ at the Postmaster-General’s Dept. However, in my third year I heard an advertisement on 3AW for a trainee broadcasting technician. This was serendipitous as I was disheartened by having to crawl around Melbourne Uni ceilings, running cables in tight spaces. The radio role developed into a more creative one and was the catalyst for my specialising as an audio producer. This in turn led me to one-on-one production engineering with 3UZ, the top-rating ‘Top 40’ music station, which was recasting itself as ‘Star Radio’ featuring celebrities such as the late Don Lane. Often the well-fed creative bug made my job exciting but mostly it was routine button pushing.
In the ‘80s, I helped create a community radio station (like 3CR) based in the south-west Sydney suburb of Campbelltown. After this, a move to Shepparton-based radio station Great Company 3SR in my forties gave me a new lease on work-life, including an opportunity to experience not-for-profit groups like U3A and gain an understanding of their aims and operations. Some of my paid time was in a position titled Community Service Director. This was a title created by corporate management to enhance their licence application, but luckily I had a good manager who took it seriously and gave me a lot of encouragement, as well as resources and free rein to develop the duties. For instance in 1985 the station saw the merits of it being UN-declared 'International Youth Year', and as Operations Manager I worked with announcer Jill Rogers (who was a qualified social worker) to plan and produce regular youth media access programs on Sunday nights. The photo shows us in action. The station and the listening area community had a win-win result! Now my family, church and U3A are benefiting. (Who put only 24 hours in a day?)
Old-style country radio was the antithesis of the city stations, though regrettably that is now changing – with more networking, it is becoming just another shock-jock soapbox or mundane jukebox.
Over the years I had colleagues who were local and national celebrities, but my role was mostly creative and behind the scenes. I’m pleased to say that for the most part I have now managed to stop myself from boring people by boasting about my past audio edits and mixes. (Can I have a level please?)
That U3A seed planted decades ago finally germinated with the arrival of a membership application for Melbourne City. Oddly but only partly, the accompanying volunteering form finally convinced me to join. Happily though, my Spiritual Guides tempered my volunteering enthusiasm. I first learnt the ins-and-outs of U3A through enrolling in some courses. My emphasis then changed and I investigated some one-off volunteering roles that led nowhere until somehow I nominated for the Committee. In addition, I have a hands-on role (with the help of Mike Shackleton), photocopying the newsletter for mail-out every second month.
I prefer the U3A short courses and luckily have had time to get pleasure and benefit from several, including Music Appreciation and Health & Well-Being. When I had a problem having my say in the Religion & Spirituality group, I joined Speaking with Confidence! I confidently predict many more years of happily doing what I love the most: keeping busy and active with grandchildren, travel and U3A. (Is there an echo in here?)
David Watson, November 2011