RetroRadio – Phil Cooke

RetroRadio is a series of posts of radio interviews from my time working at 98five Sonshine FM covering everything from issues of spirituality to chats with visiting musicians and celebrities.

Hopefully, the interviews spark a few memories and a few thoughts.

Back in July 2007, I spoke to Phil Cooke. I’ve just relistened to the interview and so much of what he has to say is still incredibly relevant today.

He’s produced TV and film programming in more than 60 countries around the world, and in the process, been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter, and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time – through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California – he’s helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

Phil was Executive Producer of “Let Hope Rise – the Hillsong Movie” released to theaters nationwide, and Producer of “The Insanity of God” a feature documentary that premiered nationally as a Fathom Event. According to former CNN journalist Paula Zahn, Phil is rare – a working producer in Hollywood with a Ph.D. in Theology. He’s appeared on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. –

We chatted about his work and the media in general as well as a range of other ways in which Christians are portrayed.

Phil had a lot of great insights into the most effective ways for Christians to harness the power of the media in its various forms. One thing that came out very strongly a number of times in our discussion was the need for people who want to share their faith story to understand the culture they’re trying to reach.

If you want to hear the interview just use the media player below.

[Note: All RetroRadio interviews on are a snapshot of the time they were recorded. We all grow and change and so the opinions and thoughts of those in the interviews at the time of recording may or may not necessarily be the same as they are today.]

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What a Funny Old Fellow

What a funny old fellow is Humphrey
He gets in all manner of strife
He leads a very exciting life
And honey’s his favourite fare

It was hard for mum to get anything done when I was a small boy. Even when she would entrust my care to “the babysitter”, a large, old black and white television, I would be constantly calling her back into the lounge room to see what Humphrey B. Bear was doing, which window we were looking through on Play School or to share the wisdom of Romper Room’s ‘Do Bee’.

I’ve always had a burning desire to share the things I find interesting or exciting with others. I guess that goes part way to explaining my many years of work in radio and the fact that I’ve been writing this blog for so many years.

These days my attention has shifted to more interesting and important things than a bear in a waistcoat (though I’m still concerned that he never wore any pants).

Tomorrow morning, while most people will still be sound asleep, I’ll be at the airport, heading off to Thailand with a group of people, so that I can share something of great significance, the work of Compassion.

Since I first saw Compassion’s work in Haiti in 2008, I’ve had a burning desire to let other people know how this holistic child development agency works. I find it amazing that since the end of 2013 I’ve been able to make that passion my work.

Over the coming week, we’ll hear stories of lives transformed, of hurts that have been healed and we’ll struggle with the messiness of the effects of poverty. We’ll meet children created in the image of God who, through no fault of their own, are living in unacceptable circumstances. We’ll also experience the difference that can be made when a local church steps in and says, “This stops here”.

I love the difference that can be made when a local church, with the care and encouragement of a sponsor, brings a child a hope more powerful than poverty. I love the fact that I get to see that life-giving reality up close again this week. Even more than that, I love that I get to share that with others so that they can capture some of the passion I have for the children Compassion serves.

No doubt I’ll share some of the stories of the week with you here on this blog.

And please remember, that you can be part of this life transformation. As I’ve mentioned many times before, on the 15th of September this year I’ll start cycling across Australia so that even more children receive the care they need and that we can ensure they are known, loved and protected.

Will you support me on this massive venture? It’s unacceptable that millions of children are living in extreme poverty so I’m putting my body on the line to do whatever I can to make a difference for as many of those children as I can.

Will you help me give more children a chance to live, dream and hope? Sponsor a child today or donate through my fundraising page.

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It’s Never OK …

… that’s why it’s called “cheating”.

I found it interesting to see a web-poll today being run by Channel Ten’s The Project today asking the question, “Is cheating on your partner ever OK?” The choices were ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Never’.

After clicking the ‘Never’ option I was pleased to see that results were saying that over 96% of respondents agreed with me. Unfortunately, when I checked back later I noticed that those thinking it’s OK to cheat ‘Sometimes’ had increased to over 12%. As more votes come in I guess that number will change around a little more but it concerns me that some people think it’s OK to cheat on their partner in some circumstances.

While I can’t excuse it, I understand that there will sometimes be circumstances that make cheating a fairly attractive option and that some people will follow through and cheat on their partner, but to say it’s OK is a little too much of a stretch for me. Haven’t we all seen too much of the devastation caused when cheating partners are caught out? How difficult is it for those affected to move forward in life after having their trust betrayed so totally?

I make a point of building a hedge around my marriage. While cheating is the furthest thing from my mind, I know that anyone can be caught in a weak moment so I take steps to avoid being caught in a compromising situation.

If you have been the victim of a cheating spouse or you have cheated and you want to find a way forward, let me recommend a blog called Marriages Restored. It’s written by Ben and Ann Wilson, a married couple who know the pain of infidelity but who have overcome its effects and are now helping others.

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Real Reality TV

I watched some real reality television recently.

ABC TV was showing On A Wing And A Prayer, a magnificent documentary which follows the life cycle of the Carnaby’s cockatoo through the story of one small cockatoo family. It’s a local production made by a Perth documentary maker. You can watch the trailer below.

Playful, mischievous and highly intelligent, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos are adored by thousands, hunted by many and saved by few. Endemic to the south-west region of Western Australia, only a small pocket of these large, gregarious birds remain and these are permanently under threat. Some are still being poached and smuggled for private collections. Many are illegally shot. Together with land clearing, loss of native food habitat and injury from man-made structures, the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo is plummeting towards extinction.

I wasn’t the only one in our home watching closely. One of our cats was on my lap snoozing until she heard the bird sounds. Then she started watching TV too. Soon after that she jumped off my lap and after getting a little closer to the telly, lunged at the screen to capture one of the cockatoos.

I had to hold her tightly for the rest of the show to make sure she didn’t damage our television. She was fascinated by the birds and the sounds they made.

It was further proof that we’ve made the right decision to keep our cats inside at all times. I wouldn’t want to let them loose where there are real birds.

I’m wondering if you have pets that watch TV. Have you ever had a dog, cat or any other pet which enjoyed a good drama or a few laughs over a comedy?

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There’s a bear in there …

Around this time of the year I get to reflect on years gone by and look at what lies ahead. Another year will tick over for me later this week, and what a year it has been.

Interesting to see that a part of my childhood is celebrating a milestone today. ABC’s Play School, based on a British program of the same name, went to air for the first time on this day, the 18th of July, 1966. It’s turning 45 today.

I’ve got a few years head start on Play School but it was very much a part of my childhood and quite probably yours too. I don’t know about you but I was always a big fan of Big Ted, Little Ted and the round window. I wonder if you have any memories of Play School. If you’re not in Australia, or weren’t brought up here, what kids programmes did you watch when you were small?

I’d love you to share your memories of children’s television, especially Play School if you watched it. I certainly hope they’ve given Big Ted the day off to celebrate.

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