By a strange twist of circumstance I found myself on the Reunion Committee, together with my mother, Jocelyn and a group of people who actually worked at TVW in the early days (I was 15 years old when Brian was forced to resign in a board-room coup; I never worked at the station).
2009 – TVW 50th Anniversary Reunion Planning Committee
Left to Right: Keith Bales, Jill Glass, Keith Mackenzie, Jocelyn and Bret Treasure with John Young
Jocelyn and I decided that if we were on the Committee, Brian’s contribution to Seven was less likely to be overlooked. The contribution of people who are deceased tends to be assumed by people who’ve survived them.
One of the things that’s obvious to me now is that none of the achievements of the station were individual. Someone had the idea, someone else significantly modified the concept, other people implemented the idea in ways that fundamentally changed it and there were people in the corporate infrastructure without whom the thing would not have worked.
Brian brought Disney on Parade to Australia, but it never would have happened if Graeme Plummer hadn’t suggested they go and see the show while they were buying programs in the states. It also needed Edgleys and the Bullens and executive support from TVW. The same is true of Brian’s other contributions; the Entertainment Centre, the many live shows, the innovations in programming and advertising and the community involvement.
The career achievements were significant (here is the Brian Treasure bio if you’re interested) and his contradictions and personality are accurately summed up by Darcy Farrell in a piece he wrote after Brian’s death. “Uncompromising, brilliant, difficult and dominating… yet soft as a kitten”. Eric Fisher observed, “he was as much at home playing pool in the front bar of the local pub as he was in the executive suites of New York and London”.
Darcy refers to Brian’s negotiating skills with high-powered American executives and his ability to connect personally with staff and celebrities. I saw a lot of that as a teenager, because so much entertaining happened at home. The bar at 86 Harrison Street was like the after-hours annex. People would just arrive, drink beer and then be invited to stay for dinner.
In writing this article, I found myself wondering what Brian would have said about his time at TVW. Here is what I think he would have said if he had the opportunity to address his co-workers.
I am so proud to have worked with you people. Not only did you take television into people’s homes, you took it into the community and made it part of Western Australia. That didn’t happen by accident and it happened differently here to the way it happened in other parts of Australia. You were resourceful, you worked long hours, you were original and you were very professional. And many of you had wives and relatives who helped the stations in many ways but were never properly thanked.
Probably, TVW is the most successful TV station in this country. But more importantly, a force for good in Western Australia. There is nothing in the world like Telethon; it is special and you made it that way. In Telethon and in your deep connections with the community you became something more than a television and radio station. You understood that local was important and you gave unprecedented opportunities to local people.
This is a glamorous industry and it’s a fickle industry. Talented people are overlooked and lose their jobs and we are all subject to the same management mistakes and insensitivities that occur whenever people do business together. If that happened to you, don’t let it define you; you’re bigger than that.
You have done great work, you’ve been part of something bigger and for seventeen years of my life, you were family, friends and career. You’ll excuse me, I’m getting a little emotional.
Footnote: Ken McKay challenged me on whether Brian would have got emotional. He wouldn’t have in 1965 or 1975 but he got more sensitive as he aged. I think he would say his years at Seven were the best years of his life.