Tony Martin's Sizzletown

Is it any wonder I love podcasts when Mr Tony Martin is in the game? I’ve loved this New Zealand Melbournian since my uni days when the Martin Molloy radio show was the highlight of my bus trips home. I’d position my walkman up against the window pane to get reception, making the 90-minute trip something to look forward to.

Sizzletown pitches itself as a late night call-in show that goes out live. Tony voices all the many and varied characters who call in, and Matt Dower’s production is meticulous. The latest episode, entitled A Bigger Gulp, is my favourite so far. Here are some highlights.

Niles is a retired gentleman from Ashburton who calls from time to time to report on the goings-on in his sleepy suburb in Melbourne’s east. Much of his time seems to be dedicated to signing petitions of varying relevance. The latest is serious business, however: to remove an apostrophe from the sign at the Ladie’s Nail Salon.

“… there’s a bit of a movement to have that apostrophe taken down. It’s an eyesore and it’s incorrect.”

Another character is Peter Meagre. Dripping with pretension, Meagre is a former book publisher and failed program director at the Melbourne Theatre Company. He insists that while he’s no longer in publishing, he maintains his friendships with “Peter Carey, Richard Flanagan and Tim Winton”.

“I do hear from Tim occasionally, standing atop a coral reef whittling a surfboard from the bones of an ancestor. He called me recently to try out fifteen different ways of describing a gust of wind…”

When Tony asked whether he’s likely to reclaim a top spot in publishing, Meagre bemoaned how few opportunities there are these days.

“Many of the publishing companies are being run by A.I. There’s one major imprint, I’m told, the man in charge is just an animated LinkedIn account barking out suggestions for biographies of sportsmen.”

Absolute gold! I love you, Tony, and I’m glad you’re back on the airwaves.

Desanka Vukelich