When I first started writing this column at the beginning of the year, I secretly hoped the gig would include judging bmag’s Brisbane Person of the Year. I had no idea how difficult it would be deciding on just one winner!
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and I could see that all 10 candidates were worthy of taking out the award, with their outstanding, ongoing achievements in areas as diverse as business, science, the arts, sport and communities.
But in this most terrible of years for Queensland, for his work in the South East Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, and for training and inspiring the next generation of SES volunteers, the decision to present the award to Danny Armstrong was unanimous.
Danny, as I said to you at the ceremony last Monday night, congratulations and thank you on behalf of your fellow Queenslanders.
I also want to congratulate a Brisbane radio stalwart and good mate who has decided to hang up his headphones after 21 years on the ABC. Kevin “The Big Wheel of Motoring” Weule hosted his first car valuation talkback show in 1990. Last Saturday, with obvious sadness, Kevin farewelled listeners, telling them that after 52 years in the car business it was time to enjoy retirement (read camping and fishing) and make way for the next generation (Kevin’s valuation company and his talkback show are now in the hands of Troy Dwyer).
Regular guests like Kevin Weule are the backbone of a radio station. More often than not they do it for nothing, week in, week out, and they’re as much a part of the station’s sound and success as the paid announcers. I had the great pleasure of working with Kevin when I was presenting regional afternoon radio in the mid 1990s. Heck, I think all of us at 612 ABC Brisbane have worked alongside Kevin Weule and learnt the spiel: “What sort of car? How many Ks? Air? Steer?”! Without Kevin Weule, I’m pretty sure I would have ignorantly sailed through my entire life without knowing the difference between dual-cab and twin-cab utes!
Kevin is a true gentleman who I know will be missed, especially by the older ladies with whom he would flirt (just a little) as they asked him what their “only driven to church on Sundays” car was worth. They were Kevin’s favourites too. You could see it in his face when he was talking to them. And Kevin would always take great care when talking to recently bereaved women faced with selling their husband’s car. Kevin always worried about them being ripped off. If time ran out, he would continue talking to these callers off-air long after the program had finished.
(I’ve just realised this is starting to sound like a eulogy. Well if it is, then at least Kevin is still around to read how much he’s been loved by his listeners and his colleagues at the ABC! We’ll miss you, Kevin!)
As Kevin Weule reflected on his half century in the business, he offered his listeners a final, serious observation: “One thing that should happen in Queensland – there should be annual roadworthies. The only time you do a roadworthy on a car is when you sell it. It’s going to cost Queenslanders a little bit more but you get a better quality of car. Over the years, when you buy a car from NSW, some of them are better cars. Here you can have a car for 10 years and not even take it near a garage.
“I don’t know how they’re going to do it. I don’t want to bring it up because it’s going to cost Queenslanders but one lady one time traded a car in and we went to roadworthy the car and she had the back brakes of the car squeezed up with a pair of pinch grips and taped up and she said `I was only driving the kids to school with the car. I wasn’t going anywhere’!
“And if they can’t get the airbags to work, they just disconnect them. A lot of that is happening.”