Bill Renwick

Scrim: The Man with a Mike

ISBN: 9780864736956

Paperback, 152 x 230mm
308 pages

November 2011

Scrim tells the cautionary tale of an immensely popular radio broadcaster who could not resist opportunities to taunt his political masters, and was sacked by them when they would not put up with him any longer.

Uncle Scrim, as the Reverend Colin Scrimgeour was known at the time, was one of New Zealand’s most popular citizens during the Great Depression. His Fellowship of the Friendly Road, based on his radio station 1ZR, brought radio evangelism to this country. His Sunday evening broadcasts offered comfort and hope to the tens of thousands of people who were impoverished and out of work. He encouraged them to believe that good times could come again.

From 1936, Scrim headed the Labour government’s highly successful commercial broadcasting service. But he also courted controversy for himself. After Savage died, he was inventive in finding ways of taunting Fraser and Wilson, the minister of broadcasting. After years of skirmishing, the government dismissed him in 1943, and he went to Australia.

Returning to New Zealand in 1968, Scrim set out to play a leading role in television, but that dream ended when he had a series of heart attacks in 1971. Then 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 reviews the life of a talented, impulsive man who in his time was the country’s outstanding broadcaster, and assesses the myth he created for himself.

William Renwick
had a distinguished career as a teacher and civil servant. He has published papers, reports and books on national and international developments in education, Treaty issues, and the 1940 centennial celebrations.