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radio in Melbourne and radio in Sydney

The vile antics of Kyle and Jackie O raise the question: is there a difference in the culture of radio in Sydney compared to elsewhere in Australia? As far as I know, there’s no-one comparable to that horrid pair on Melbourne FM radio. There also seems to be a difference in the talk hosts. Melbourne has its demagogues but there’s no real equivalent to Alan Jones or John Laws or the rest of them. Moreover, attempts to transplant Sydney shock jocks seem to have failed.

So what’s the explanation? OK, I get that these things foster a race to the bottom, that a single successful shock jock necessarily leads to an infestation. But that still isn’t an answer. Is there, perhaps, any connection with the success of public radio in Melbourne, so that the culture that allows a RRR to thrive is less likely to provide room for a Kyle Whateverhisname? Anyone have any better suggestions?

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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  1. Well that explains it !

    I think there's defintely something to there being a stronger grassroots radio culture in Melbourne v Sydney. I'm just beginning to get a feel for radio here as I've only been in Melbourne a few months, but people have suggested similar things to me: that there are presenters that have been at RRR since the 80s, and that to find out what's going on you need to listen to the radio.

    I don't think there's an equivalent in Sydney to either 3CR or RRR. 2SER is probably the strongest community station in Sydney – but it's still more of a 'college' station (though it has lots of 'community' shows too) as it comes out of UTS. FBI as far as I know isn't affiliated to a uni, but it also has more of a college radio feel to it, from the little I've listened to it. And there are other smaller stations which I think have more community and experimental stuff but they have a pretty limited broadcast range…

    Most of the radio people I know from Sydney started off at 2SER but then went on to produce for Radio National… which might explain something…

    I don't know how you'd work out if there's a relationship between strength of alternative radio and 'demogogishness of commercail radio presenters though. Probably a research project…? Tim

    • http://www.cbonline.org.au/index.cfm?pageId=44,14

      Sydney
      Listeners to community radio 674,000 per week or 20% of listeners
      Listeners to commercial radio 2429000 71%
      Listeners to ABC and/or SBS radio 1332000 39%
      Listeners to community radio who:
      do not listen to commercial radio 220, 000 6%
      do not listen to ABC/SBS radio 325,000 10%
      do not listen to commercial radio or ABC/SBS radio 111,000 3%

      Melbourne Listeners to community radio 748,000 per week or 26% of listeners
      Listeners to commercial radio 2,002,000 69%
      Listeners to ABC and/or SBS radio 1,321,000 45%
      Listeners to community radio who:
      do not listen to commercial radio 262,000 9%
      do not listen to ABC/SBS radio 285,000 10 %
      do not listen to commercial radio or ABC/SBS radio 98, 000 3%

  2. I can't answer your question, Jeff, but I was absolutely astonished at Kyle asking the girl whether the rape "was her only sexual experience". I'd hardly describe being raped as just another in the litany of sexual experiences, and the fact that he kept digging for some presumably less controversial dirt is pretty appalling. I was pleased to see a facebook survey doing the rounds whereby you could nominate 'fuckhead', 'wanker' etc etc for what you thought of old Kyle's choice. What a charmer he is.

  3. Stations owned by Austereo hold the number one position in both cities. The ratings are almost identical.

    Sydney
    2Day
    Number one FM station with 9.8 per cent
    Kyle and Jackie O number one FM breakfast show at 10.1 per cent
    Hamish and Andy number one in drive at 12.6 per cent
    Number one FM across workday
    Hot30 Countdown number one FM night show

    Melbourne
    Fox FM
    Number one station with 11.9 per cent
    Matt and Jo number one FM breakfast show with 10.5 per cent
    Hamish & Andy number one drive show with 19.0 per cent
    Number one FM across workday
    Hot30 Countdown number one FM night show
    Fox FM reaches 1.2 million in cume audience share

  4. Yeah, I understand that the media companies are the same. But doesn't that make the situation more noticeable? Not claiming to be an expert on these things but the impression I had of the Matt and Jo show (based on listening to them for thirty seconds) is that they were substantially gentler than Kyle and Jackie O. And if Hamish and Andy can be successful in both cities, why can't K and JO? Doesn't that suggest that the really aggressive shock jock thing doesn't travel?

  5. "but the impression I had of the Matt and Jo show (based on listening to them for thirty seconds) is that they were substantially gentler than Kyle and Jackie O."

    You haven't really heard either show, but you're attempting to make sweeping generalisations based on a 30 second impression? You know they are looking for new hosts at the Sydney station and this kind of quick thinking is the morning show host's forte. :)

    The commercial morning show genre–people yelling on the radio, silly bordering on tasteless jokes, noticing the news instead of reading it, cash prizes,playlists, taped sounds, lots of ads– seems to have an audience whether you're in Cleveland Ohio or Adelaide. Obviously in the rush for attention the Sydney pair did themselves in.

    So can you do fart noises?

  6. Well, I'm happy to be corrected. Is your argument that there's no difference between shock jocks in Melbourne and Sydney? If so, is there a Melbourne equivalent of, say, Alan Jones?

  7. I am only noting that the commercial genres and stations seem to be equally popular in both cities, as is the public broadcaster ABC.

    RRR audience numbers are commendable (It's like 2ser and fbi put together) but those numbers are peanuts when compared to the corporate-controlled radio stations.

  8. I seem to remember the rather benign Jon Faine copping some flack awhile back (forget the circumstances) – maybe Melbourne audiences, collectively, must be more intolerant of poor public manners.
    What I find inexcusable, is the mother willingly subjecting her child to public humiliation. What sort of conscience do the producers and ultimately all complicit in such acts, have? I don't know how we teach civic responsibility and reciprocal rights when we let (tolerate) celebrity driven media create a culture of Colosseum sport out of the vulnerable.

  9. As someone who loved living in Sydney I'll sidestep the whole 'are Sydney-siders retarded?' question. But if any of you saw Media Watch last night you'll know that the worse part of the whole affair was the build up to the girl's statement that she'd been raped. Sandilands never actually said 'Is that your only sexual experience', he said 'is that your only experience'. The only reason I mention that – fairly minor in the scheme of things – detail is because I want to make the point that the Producers of the show, and Jackie O, are all equally to blame. Media Watch went on to outline a recent and elaborate stunt in which the show kept two Cambodian women, a niece and an aunt, apart, until they begged to be allowed to meet each other. They'd first been separated by the Pol Pot regime. In a way that was actually worse than what happened with the 14 year old girl because the humiliation was plotted, by the producers, a long way ahead. The women were told they had to plead, on air, to be allowed to meet, or the niece would be put on a plane back to the States. This may not make sense if you didn't see it, but you can find the details here. <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s264… Getting rid of Kyle wont stop the problem. The entire culture of the station is extremely problematic.

  10. 'Getting rid of Kyle wont stop the problem. The entire culture of the station is extremely problematic.'

    If anyone else was the host I wouldn't have minded as much. Any excuse to get that fat bastard off our screens and radios is good enough.

  11. Yesterday's news but… One of the oddities of the program was the lack of a delay button – I had always assumed that live radio went to air with a seven second delay to stop such comments airing. The only place I've noticed a comment about this was is a New Ltd article by Marcus Casey ( I can't access the ABC material suggested by sophiec, so do forgive is similar is raised there). His explanation was provided by a former exec at the station who said it was the only live program that didn't use a 'dump' button due to a certain person's out-of-control ego – I'd call it celebrity narcissism that borders on sociopathic behaviour. With regard to the Cambodian incident, this is exploitation at its worst. Meanwhile, the presenters are paid obscene 7 figure salaries and bonuses: 'the entire culture of the station is extremely problematic' should probably be changed to 'the entire culture of greed…'. Would they do it for an average wage?

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