Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Groove Book Review: Scrim The Man with the Mike: William Renwick: Victoria University Press; $50.00

'Scrim' tells a cautionary tale of an immensely popular radio broadcaster who just couldn't resist any opportunity to taunt and tease his political masters, epecially Fraser and was finally sacked by them when they would not put up with him any more.
'Uncle Scrim', as the Reverend Colin Scrimgeour was known at the time, was one of our most notoriously innovative and popular citizens during the great depression. Whilst working with his Fellowship of the Friendly Road, he took any oppotunity to run black market style tactics accross theestablishment to get the needy food, jobs even shoes - what ever it took. And it was that Friendly Road that he based his radio station 1ZR, and brought radio evangelism to Aotearoa. His Sunday evening broadcasts offered comfort and hope to the tens of thousands of people who were impoverished and out of work during that harsh times. Through his kind words he encouraged them to believe that good times could come again.
From 1936, Scrim headed the first Labour government’s highly successful commercial broadcasting service. Yet he also courted much controversy for himself. Following Joseph Savage's death, he was innovative in finding ways to taunt Prime Minister Peter Fraser and Wilson, the minister of broadcasting and finaly years of skirmishs, the government finally axed him in 1943, and he went to Australia.
But on returning to New Zealand in 1968, Scrim, who was a natural for the broadcasting game, set out to play a leading role in the country's fledging television industry. But that dream ended when series of heart attacks hit in 1971. It was then that he worked on his autobiography, of which only The Scrim–Lee Papers, written with John A. Lee, was published. "Scrim: The Man with the Mike" is a correction to that biography, which was highly embelished with facts and reminses that are not necessarily entirely true. Tebook reviews the life of a talented, yet uneducated and impulsive man who, despite his short comings was a man for his time - the country’s outstanding broadcaster, and assesses the myth he created for himself in some detail.
William Renwick is the perfeck reviewer for Scrim - with a distinguished career as a teacher and civil servant he's published papers and books on education, Treaty issues, and the 1940 centennial celebrations. His approach to this wor, "Scrim" is a lttle dry at times, and partially misses the fluidity of, say a journalist but from an academic work t is a piece of great writinf, covering all bases to a 'T' . If you are looking for the definitive work on the man, this could be vary well it.

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