A quick search on the internet for Stan Hillard doesn’t reveal much. You’ll find my name-dropping about a decade ago on Radio Today as I trample on the great legacy of community radio in Australia, you’ll also find that Stan was most recently the President of 2WAY FM and was even presenting radio shows last week. He loved the theatre, and even acting if we’re allowed to call whatever is in that YouTube video as acting.

I met Stan on my first day at 4CRM, Mackay’s Community Radio station early 2004. I’d always wanted to be on the radio, firstly because I’d admired everything I’d heard come out of Triple J, Hot FM, and 4MK’s transmitters since I was a little boy, and secondly because it was the closest I could ever come to being heard - something that didn’t happen much for this kid from a broken home. I walked past and saw a sign on the door about learning radio.

This post to the usenet group aus.radio.broadcast recalls the moment in terific hi skool dropout englissh

I went up the radio station stairs expecting to find out about some big course and the next day, after talking to station manager Allan Berry, I was in the studio with Stan.

Stan and Bente Macdonald at the 20th anniversary celebrations for 4CRM

Dig deeper on Google for Stan and you’ll find a story from the Alice Spring News reported on February 11, 1998, a story containing an anecdote about colour TV coming to the region:

When Alice Springs finally got TV in 1970, it could have gone straight to colour. However, the ABC, the sole transmitter at the time, had put a colour bar on its equipment. “Nobody realised this,” recalls Murray, “but we had a technician here called Stan Hillard in charge of the transmitter. He went to Adelaide and while he was having a look at their equipment, he noticed the colour bar, pulled it out and all of a sudden Alice Springs had colour. “He got into hot water for doing this, the ABC were going to reinstate black and white but the Northern Territory Government intervened, someone in the ABC got their knuckles rapped and Stan was a hero for the town!” Murray has heard that Stan now lives in Rockhampton.

Born on March 11, 1947, Stan passed away this last week, and although the internet leaves much to be imagined about Stan, his leadership, training, and guidance in the early days of my career were foundational and I wanted to honour his legacy by repeating what he taught me on my first day in front of a microphone, before which he’d taught me how to panel a radio show. I quoted Stan on this blog last year, but I share again to honour the mark Stan left on my life and career, and so the people at the back can hear it:

Imagine the audience are the stupidest people alive then treat them with the upmost respect.

It’s my golden rule for broadcasting, publishing, posting, tweeting, threading, tooting, facebooking, gramming, or microblogging. Imagine for just one minute that the people reading this thing, or hearing it, and they have no idea what you’re talking about - explain it to them in a quick and simple way so they may understand and perhaps even engage.

Whenever I’ve failed in life it’s almost likely because I’ve ignored or failed to employ that golden rule.