DAN Cox is leaning into the microphone, his rich, husky tones keeping things humming along in the studio.
He is saying things like: “Bert from Greta, you think we might be headed to a cemetery?” Bert can’t be trusted, he is way off here. Dan knows that but he is letting Bert have a go. Tim Connell* is in the car somewhere, on the mobile phone, doing impressions of David Attenborough, quipping it up, telling us what he sees, crowbaring puns in at every turn. Tim’s finding the clues, he’s reading the clues, he’s repeating the clues, we’re solving the clues. You’re there too, the studio contestant, second-guessing yourself, doubting your local knowledge, the weight and expectation of the Hunter resting uneasily on your weary shoulders.
And the others, those die-hard fans who follow along or race ahead, who call in to say “you’re on the right track” or “I’ve just seen someone tying an envelope to a gate at Minmi”, you’re also there.
It’s ABC 1233’s Treasure Hunter, our favourite Hunter-centric, weekend, cryptic clue based radio quest!
The show that makes your Saturday morning brighter. The show that brings people together to solve a puzzle and win, well, nothing. Nothing but bragging rights, the satisfaction of teamwork, of not losing, not missing out on the self-imposed and completely made-up deadline.
We admit we’re a late-comer to Treasure Hunter, the game where two studio contestants have two hours to solve five clues hidden around the Hunter.
It’s been an ABC institution for years (it turned 10 in June).
And it’s gathered a cult-following of quick-thinking, fast-fingered know-vacastrians. People love it. Someone even proposed on the show in 2013.
For years, without actually listening to an episode, we’d turned our nose up.
But the truth is it’s good radio. It’s engaging and challenging, it’s by Hunter people for Hunter people, it makes you think.
So we were close to devastated when we heard that, as part of a line-up shake-up at ABC1233, Treasure Hunter would be moving to a “restricted run” or “seasonal format” in 2019. “We will be involved in some way next year,” Cox told listeners on the final episode of Treasure Hunter for 2018. “We're going to get a win today**.”
We’d just started getting into it. I mean, sure, we’d never actually successfully worked out a clue on our own, not yet.
But we were getting close. We’d gotten the hang of it. We were ready to contribute. And this thing we didn’t even realise we enjoyed was plucked from us. This is not intended to be critical of the ABC or of excellent presenter and sports broadcaster Craig Hamilton, who will fill Treasure Hunter’s Saturday slot with a mix of local news and sport.
More just something of an obituary for Treasure Hunter. We think once it’s gone more people will miss it than they realise.
*There are, of course, others who get in the car and man the phone, but Tim Connell, former Newcastle Herald colleague, is our fave.
**The last Treasure Hunter for 2018 will go down as a “technical win”.
We will be involved in some way next year. We're going to get a win today.- Ever-optimistic 1233 ABC presenter Dan Cox on the final episode of Treasure Hunter for 2018.
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