Kate Gerbeau on Bob Morrison

Bob Morrison was the perfect radio animal. His very name said: I’m at ease being Bob, but take the Morrison seriously.

Even
before I met him on work experience at Reading’s Radio 210 I’d been
told my six-week stint was my chance to prove I was indispensable to
the team. Even if it meant making the tea all the time, and I did.
Copious cups of it.

They’d told me Bob could be acerbic, but the
editor I found was no such thing. He was tall, dark-haired, wore
glasses and pin-striped shirts. He had a look of the public schoolboy
about him, but he didn’t have the guffaw.

He preferred a wry
half-smile that told you there was an awful lot more going on in his
head than he cared to tell anyone else about.

Bob lived in the
newsroom. He was a creature thriving on accuracy, deadlines and detail.
His work was quick and effortless. He could scan the most cumbersome
council committee meeting agenda and deliver “the story” in part 12.2,
paragraph VII. There, buried in the jargon about Aunt Millie’s hedge he
would find the kernel of a story from which he’d create a script that
was interesting and understandable.

Bob could write. He could broadcast. He could even fix buses!

Whatever
interested Bob you could be sure he would know more than most people on
the subject. The only time I can ever remember Bob being late for work
was when he’d stopped somewhere en route to work to help out the number
37, which had broken down.

He even drove it back to the depot for
them… a fact he delivered with the same air of nonchalance that made
him one of the coolest heads in broadcasting.

Bob could float
into the studio with precision timing at the top of the hour. He knew
exactly how many seconds it would take to pick up his scripts, walk to
the mic, open the fader and engage vocal chords. I suspect he, like
many of us, got a thrill by “just making it”.

I must have done
something right because after my first four-minute feature on
drink-driving, a studio interview with Right Said Fred, several Aunt
Millie stories (and numerous cups of tea) I was given a job, and that’s
where I began reporting and reading the news.

I learnt some years
later that Bob’s house had been struck by lightning, shattering his
computer system. I like to think it was a challenge Bob would have
simply taken in his stride.

Thanks Bob, for showing us that perseverance, precision and loyalty are key qualities valued by all good journalists.

Kate Gerbeau is a newsreader on Five News

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