I’ve said before that birthday celebrations seem a bit odd to me. Counting how many times we’ve been around the sun. Still, it marks a point in time and 50 is one of those ‘important numbers’. I have embraced it and gone all out to celebrate and mark the occasion with a dinner with my nearest and dearest and taken it to social media too.
I have spent my life thinking and communicating via a whole range of methods. Today is a good a time as any to tell the story of how a little blonde boy from way out west came to be writing a blog and engaging with the world from the safety of a computer and a keyboard. Of course, I do mix it with real people from time to time. I’m one of the lucky people, I have a job that I love and it’s grown and changed around me.
My first attempt to communicate was clearly my voice from the moment I first uttered ‘mum’. Then in 1972 I began Storer’s Paper, a little newspaper that I wrote and circulated around the house. It was full of stories that you’d expect from a 10 year old. I’ve attached a Storer’s Paper from my 13th birthday. It’s really quite a hoot. I went so far as to ’employ’ my brother and sisters to write stories for me. I also took great delight in firing them so I could write headlines about it. I charged my mother 1¢ per edition and then I bumped the price up to 2¢ and then 5¢ so I could write headlines about it!
The paper for my little newspaper was supplied by my older brother Larry who worked in a print shop. I loved printing. I loved to visit his work. He would show me how he put together print jobs. It was fascinating.
In 1977 from my paper round money I purchased a little intercom from Tandy and used it to play radio stations, I would drag the intercom to the record player and sitting there with the talk button pressed in while I played my father’s country music records to the receiver at the other end of 5 meters of cable.
It was about that time that I started earning money from my paper round and other jobs. With that money I started to buy microphones, record and tape players and then switches and speakers. I wired the house with speakers and SP7 Radio Intercom began blasting music on a daily basis. I’d come home from school and from 4.00 to 6.00 p.m. every day I’d play radio stations. It’s fair to say that school for me wasn’t a great experience. Home life was fraught at times and escaping into my bedroom, putting on my headphones and playing the latest single was a great way for a young teenager to escape.
I taped just about every program I ever did, I would also tape shows off the radio and sometimes the TV. The Muppet Show was one of my favourites. As a youngster who was constantly bullied for being gay this enabled me to hide behind the microphone and pretend to be a big time media star that people loved to listen to.
Have a listen to a short sample of “The Greggie Show” from 1st August 1982.
SP7 Radio Intercom gave way to ASP Radio and then 3SP and I had a number of ‘regional stations’ 3DR, dining room, 3LR, lounge room and 3SR, spare room. It was simply wonderful fun and as I moved into employment I was able to buy a lot more equipment and refine my presentation. I would have gone into radio, however I was never really pushed in that direction and I was a somewhat timid guy and very unsure of myself. I was also shit frightened about having to go on a 6 week training course in the city. I just couldn’t imagine doing that!
My home radio station stayed with me well into my twenties and as I formed close relationships with my friends and they moved away I would record letter tapes to send them.
When I moved to Melbourne in 1995 I replaced my home-grown studio with a real radio studio and spent many years at a community radio station Southern FM. I started out reading the news during the drive program on Mondays and when the regular presenter failed to show up I applied for the slot and got it. It gave me a chance to really play radio stations. I revelled in it. A normally shy person I was able to get behind a microphone and take charge. I found myself interviewing all sorts of people from all walks of life. This was the sort of radio I wanted to do. I did Monday Drive for a few years and then with Helen Cook we did Tuesday Drive, it was a hoot! Towards the end of our time at Southern FM, Helen and I had returned to full-time work and it got hard to organise interviews, we’d spend our time playing music and chatting more off air than on. At the same time I was also doing a computer show called “Cyber Café” with Andrew Le Clerq. That was heaps of fun. I did all the serious bits of work of button pushing and announcing while Andrew did the talking about topics, but mostly we just made fun of each other and meandered our way around various computer topics. At least I think that’s what was going on.
Bozo Criminal of the Week on Cyber Cafe with “FW & GP” from April 2002
I never really let the newspaper side of things go either. Storer’s Paper faded quickly once my siblings lost interest and I began doing the radio thing. However, I was involved in Scouts and that gave me a chance to use my ‘newspaper’ skills. With a small Olivetti typewriter and some carbon paper I would produce newsletters for the 3rd Hamilton Scout Group. When that folded and I moved to 2nd Hamilton I took on the weekly newsletter job as part of by leadership role as a Cub Leader. I loved creating documents using Letraset and a photocopier. As I moved through the Scout movement I was always involved in producing newsletters, posters and other communications.
The Internet started to happen at about this time. I had a computer of sorts since about 1982 and as I earned more money I upgraded. When the internet really came along I was there, buying a modem and hooking in. I loved it. As it developed I taught myself how to design web pages. I regularly engaged in the social media of the day, Internet Relay Chat, here I made some good solid friends, I found real people behind the nicknames. We would chat for hours online and then meet in person. I’ve found several boyfriends and many long-term friends on the internet. Have a read of this (language warning!)
I wrote some computer programs and plenty of scripts to make my computer zing. Web pages, chat programs and newsgroups where a natural extension of Storer’s Paper. It was the Internet that soothed the transition of the straight man to the gay man. I found plenty of people out there in the world who were on the same journey as me. We connected. That’s what the Internet still does today. It helps us to connect and communicate. If it doesn’t you’re doing it wrong.
So here we are, today. You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter. You can read my blogs and you’ll even find a few YouTube videos of me.
I run my own servers at home, I love to play with them, tweak them and write code! I’m not the world’s best geek but I have plenty of fun. Using my self-taught skills I have helped my workplace adopt these new technologies, I designed our first website, I was there as 1999 rolled into 2000 and made sure we were compliant. I was there when we networked and introduced email to everyone. I have seen the gradual evolution of communication and I’ve helped establish it in my own little way.
Communicating is fantastic, I’ve learned much over many years and it’s been a constant theme that has run through my life.
And now I’ve communicated with you by telling you my little story to mark 50 years of me.
I don’t want much by way of material goods. If you feel like you want to take me out for a coffee or have a drink with me, or if you want to send a card, stop now! Help a charity instead, I know a good one. Get this app Shout for Good and support Family Life. They (that is we) are all about communicating with those that are struggling. Every little bit helps.
Thanks for being on the journey with me and taking the time to read the 50th anniversary edition of Storer’s Paper.