At Home with Get Together's Bob Hargreaves

Mon, 13 May 2019

Bob Hargreaves 2   web article

We would like to introduce 2RPH living treasure and presenter of Get Together, Bob Hargreaves, who produces and records the program in his home studio in NSW. Danielle Hanrahan talks to Bob about his history and contribution to 2RPH.

Tell us a little about your history with the station?

I have been a part of the RPH service since it first went to air. My radio background covers commercial national and international broadcasts, as well as film production for world TV and news reading. All up, you have a time span of 62 years.

After I retired, my wife and I sold our Canberra house and moved to the NSW coast in beautiful Kiama. For about 14 years, I travelled to the 2RPH station by a two-hour train trip, followed by a bus from Central Station to Glebe.

You present Get Together, can you tell us a little about what the program is about?

Get Together has been described by a regular Tasmanian listener as “always interesting”. It’s stories sourced from around 20 different publications, which cover human interest, travel, science, health, inventions, disasters, successes, personality profiles and so on.

Why did you start recording at home?

Once I arrived at the station, I would record the voice track for the program, Get Together, and then repeat my travels to Kiama where I would edit that morning’s voice track and mix the program to its music. After having suffered several falls near Central Station, I decided to produce the program at home, where I have broadcast equipment with studio quality acoustics.

Can you tell us more about your home studio?

My home studio is a converted bedroom. It has woollen carpet, curtains on the windows, with one of the curtains a white semi-transparent gauze, while the inner curtain is made of a heavier material that excludes light. When I am sitting at the computer writing or recording, I can operate with the gauze curtains either open or closed. Behind where I sit to record, there is a sofa and a wall of books. I read, not so long back, that a bookcase is a good thing to have as the shelves and wooden shelf dividers effectively break up any audio bounce. A second wall – at 90 degrees to the bookcase – also helps with the audio. On the desk, I have my tower computer box, a turntable and an Otari Reel-to-Reel tape recorder stacked on top of each other. I move the keyboard towards the back of the desk when I am recording, so I can rest my copy on it. Across the back of the desk is a lovely Rode condenser microphone, mounted on the same type of arm as we have in the 2RPH studios in Glebe.

What else do you record for 2RPH?

Together with producing and presenting Get Together, I produce assorted half-hour special broadcasts. As I write this, I am producing an Anzac Day 2019 broadcast for 2RPH.

What do you enjoy about being a part of 2RPH?

The short answer is “being able to give something back”. The long answer is, “… and what do you want to be when you grow up,” the elderly gentleman said to the small boy at his feet. Instantly the small boy looked his questioner straight in the eyes and said, “A steam train driver or a clown in a circus.” Well, I never did become a steam train driver, but there have been times when I’ve wondered about that second choice!

The long answer is: I grew up with two loves, one was radio (there then being no television) and the other film production. The passing years found me working in all those callings, and I felt I was feeling particularly blessed for the privilege of working in industries I loved – almost all of my life I knew what I wanted to do.

One day in the early 1980s I was between film assignments for the Federal Government’s Overseas Information Service and had my radio playing quietly on my desk at work. For some time I had been wondering what I could do to give something back to society as I had been blessed to work in industries which I loved, and never had ‘Monday-Itis’ then, or anytime in the past 62 years of working in the media.

Suddenly the radio was playing an interview about a new radio station whose role it would be to provide a broadcast reading service to the blind and vision impaired, and those who had difficulty accessing printed material. To that point, I had been wondering if reading for the blind was the way to go but now I knew God was opening doors for me, to contacts who knew other contacts and equipment no longer required by their stations. In those early days, equipment was pre-loved and studios were `doctored’ rooms in houses, often with egg cartons on the walls to break-up audio bouncing off voices.

My years in commercial, national and international broadcasting has allowed me to wear many RPH hats, including announcer and reader training, studio design, studio building and Board management.

To close, let me tell you a true story told to me in Canberra by a long-time friend. Before RPH came to Canberra, he (Robert, who was blind from birth), would stand alone at social functions, not having enough knowledge of the subject being discussed by a nearby group.

Since the Canberra station commenced daily newspaper readings, it removed his lack of information and broke down his isolation from information. Thereafter Robert was part of discussions at any social gathering he attended. Radio For the Print Handicapped changed his life.

Bob’s tip for fellow presenters:

When recording, watch your breathing. It will show up on your RF line in the middle of your green waveform. Your diaphragm can be your best friend and will support you when starting to run out of breath. By pressing down on it you can usually make it to your next full stop. The rule of thumb is breath over the top of your tongue, breath in gently before you press record and then read on. You can both see and hear a noisy breath. It shows as a fattish increase in your green centre line just before a word.

To hear Bob present Get Together on 2RPH, tune in on Sundays at 8:30am and repeated episodes on Mondays at 7pm.