Wanted: staff for closed business

Posted December 25th, 2011 by debritz

The Wear Valley Mercury in County Durham has become the 32nd newspaper to close in Britain this year. I'm not sure how hastily the decision was made, but on the paper's web page, the announcement of the closure is under an advertisement seeking an advertising sales executive for the title.

Beggin the Begguine

Posted December 24th, 2011 by debritz

Proofreaders wanted. Beginners welcome.

Wait Wait ... it's Brisbane

Posted December 19th, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane is officially on the radar of one of America's most popular syndicated radio shows and podcasts. The Queensland capital was mentioned in a question on the "Not My Job" section of the National Public Radio news quiz Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!

After also exhibiting some knowledge of cricket, the contestant, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, correctly answered that Brisbane is the home to the world championships in cockroach races.

The question also gave Wait Wait host Peter Sagal the opportunity to make a joke about the drinking habits of the crowd for the event.

No doubt McCarron, Sagal, judge Carl Kasell and the Wait Wait panel would be welcome guests if they decide to pop in for the races at the Story Bridge Hotel, Kangaroo Point, on Australia Day.

Audio of the segment is here.

Gone ... and forgotten

Posted December 17th, 2011 by debritz

Spot the difference. From the same page within minutes:

Regent's state of origin

Posted December 15th, 2011 by debritz

The Showcase cinema at the Brisbane Regent was denied heritage listing because it was deemed to lack "original" features.

However, during the demolition of the cinema to make way for an office tower, it's been revealed that much of the fabric WAS original.

The Brisbane Times has the story here.

Jennifer Flowers wins Glugs' award

Posted December 14th, 2011 by debritz

Popular Brisbane-based actor and director Jennifer Flowers was yesterday named the winner of the annual Chief Glug's Award for excellence in theatre.

Flowers, who will be directing the Queensland Theatre Company's production of Romeo and Juliet next year, has been a fixture on the Brisbane and interstate stage for the past three decades.

The award is presented by the Glugs of Gosh, a group of theatre lovers who have met monthly for the past 21 years.

Flowers is pictured at the Kookaburra Cafe in Paddington with Michael Balk, representing the Queensland Actors' and Entertainer's Benevolent Fund, which received a donation from the Glugs.

Fun and trains

Posted December 14th, 2011 by debritz

The 10.03pm train from Brisbane Central to Ferny Grove was almost five minutes late. It was no big deal, especially since Queensland Rail put on some entertainment.

Passengers were kept scrambling from platform 3 to platform 4 as the audio announcements and the station monitors gave conflicting information about when and where the service would arrive.

Highlights included announcing the train was "now" at platform 3 two-and-a-half minutes before it actually showed up, and many passengers getting on the wrong train because the station signage conflicted with the train's destination board.

I took these photos to keep myself amused. Notice how the platform number and due times change:

Australia's loss, Aunty's win

Posted December 13th, 2011 by debritz

The bosses at 612ABC Brisbane were saved from making a difficult decision yesterday, thanks to the poor performance of the Australian cricket team.

The hapless boys in baggy green were bundled out just as news broke of Premier Anna Bligh's decision to split up the mammoth Queensland Health department following a string of scandals.

The early end of the cricket meant a return to local programming, enabling full coverage of the unfolding political drama (- following a scramble back to the studio by ABC staffers who were soberly celebrating the Christmas season at the Royal Exchange Hotel in Toowong along with Spencer Howson, Kelly Higgins-Devine and a group of their on-air contributors and Twitter friends.

Had the cricket not ended early, though, somebody would have been faced with a very difficult decision as to whether, or to what extent, to pre-empt a cliffhanger sporting event for a big local news story.

Howson shows how it's done

Posted December 13th, 2011 by debritz

612 ABC breakfast host Spencer Howson has made it a clean sweep of the Brisbane radio ratings, with the year's final survey confirming him as the capital's No. 1 cereal thriller.

Howson has been the listeners' choice in the cornflakes session since the middle of last year.

Overall, the winner was 97.3FM, ahead of a packed field, with Nova, B105 and Triple M close behind, all within 0.4 percentage points, then 612ABC, 4KQ, Triple J, 4BC and 4BH following.

In breakfast, 97.3FM's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher tied with Triple M's Grill Team with Greg "Marto" Martin for second place, and B105's Labby, Stav Davidson and Abby Coleman tied for fourth with Nova 106.9's Ash Bradnam, David "Luttsy" Lutteral, Camilla Severi and Dan Anstey (standing in for Kip Wightman, who will return to the station in January). They were followed by 4KQ, 4BC, Triple J and 4BH.

Ratings for 4KQ and 4BC softened in breakfast, but they had gains overall, and 4BH rebounded from a shocker of a survey last time to gain 1.9pc in breakfast and 1.0pc overall.

In the drive session, B105's Fifi and Jules/ Hamish and Andy combo losing 2.8pc, leapfrogged by 97.3FM's Paul "Campo" Campion, and Nova' Meshel Laurie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell down 0.5pc but still No.1.

In the evenings, there was a 4.0pc shift to Triple M's Peanut Gallery, but it was not enough to get ahead of B105's Hot 30 and 612ABC's Steve Austin, who both lost audience share.

In other breakfast radio news, it's been revealed that acting 612ABC Mornings host Terri Begley will be on the road next year as roving reporter for the afternoon show, to be hosted by Kelly Higgins-Devine, and Tim Cox's new drive show.

Sandilands' ratings remain high

Posted December 13th, 2011 by debritz

Controversy seems to have paid off in the ratings for Kyle Sandilands, with the 2DayFM breakfast host gaining points in the final radio ratings survey for 2011.

The Kyle and Jackie O show netted 11.2 per cent of breakfast listeners, up 0.6 percentage points from the previous survey, and 2Day was the highest-rating FM station.

However, they remained behind longtime breakfast leader Alan Jones, at 2GB, and 702ABC's Adam Spencer.

The "rolling survey" included the lead-up to and immediate aftermath of Sandilands' outburst against a journalist who published a news story including negative comments about the Kyle and Jackie O Night with the Stars TV show. 2Day also remained dominant in tits target 10-17, 18-24 and 25-39 age demographics.

However, much of the survey was conducted before the scandal emerged.

Despite the withdrawal of many advertisers, and a petition signed by more than 25,000 people, 2Day owners Southern Cross Austereo have confirmed that the Kyle and Jackie O Show will return to the airwaves next year.

Early cut for Kip

Posted December 9th, 2011 by debritz

Nova 106.9 has confirmed that Kip Wightman will return to host the breakfast show from January 16. Current anchor Dan Anstey will stay with the station.

Anstey will host the morning session, from 9am to midday, replacing Whippy, who is moving to Melbourne.

The move, first signalled here on, represents an early departure for Wightman from the afternoon shift on 97.3FM, which is half-owned by Nova owner DMG Radio.

Wightman will host the breakfast show alongside his former colleagues Ash Bradnam and David "Luttsy" Lutteral, and Nova newcomer Camilla Severi.

Nova 106.9 general manager Sean Ryan said the move was months in the making and the outcome was exciting for Nova staff and listeners.

“When Kip departed in 2010 to go on his overseas odyssey he left a legacy that Nova has never forgotten,” Ryan said in a media statement.

“Kip feels that strong connection with our station and our listeners and I know he is just as excited as we are to be returning to the studio where it all began.”

Light fantastic

Posted December 9th, 2011 by debritz

Lighthouses come under the, er, spotlight in a new project by the ABC's cross-media journalists.

According to an ABC media release, travellers can download audio tours from the website, then take them to the sites of popular lighthouses and enjoy the hidden stories about the people that lived and worked there and the coast around them.

The statement says:

Lighthouses are a popular destination during the holiday season and there are plenty of iconic sites to choose from, dotted along Australia’s vast coastline.

From Rottnest Island on the west coast to Cape Byron on the east coast, there are audio tours available for many lighthouses across the nation.

Clancy McDowell, state editor (WA), said the initiative aims to enrich the experience and build the knowledge of those visiting our lighthouses.

“Many of Australia’s lighthouses were built in stunning locations and each boasts their own piece of history. Our new website and audio tours aim to share the hidden stories behind these functional yet very romantic buildings.”

The audio tours will also also be downloaded for free at iTunes.

It's all here.

Ryan Seacrest to be heard in Brisbane

Posted December 8th, 2011 by debritz

Update: More changes at ARN: Jocks' Journal hasreported that 97.3FM mornings host Jo Henderson is "taking a break" and that Mix 106.5's Anthony "Becks" Toohey has been ordered by doctors to have an extended rest. There are also internet rumours about the future of Mix host Marnie T.

American Idol and E! Entertainment star Ryan Seacrest will be heard on Brisbane's 97.3FM from January 16, according to media website Mumbrella.

On Air with Ryan Seacrest is already heard on Sydney and Melbourne stations owned by the Australian Radio Network (ARN), and will also be heard in Adelaide from next month.

Mumbrella quoted ARN national content director Duncan Campbell as saying: "After a review of the station’s programming we felt there was an opportunity to seize the market in the early evening. Ryan Seacrest has access and connections to all the big celebrities and happenings in Hollywood .

“Ryan Seacrest has proved very popular for our target market in Sydney and Melbourne and we are excited to expand nationally in 2012, now offering this program to listeners in Adelaide and Brisbane.”

Radio industry sources have told me that Kip Wightman, who is currently heard on 97.3FM in the early afternoons, will be rejoining the breakfast team at Nova 10.6 breakfast team "by April at the latest". It is possible that the addition of Seacrest to the 97.3FM line-up could mean Wightman moves earlier - although the latest news from ARN (see update at top of story) perhaps suggest there may be a different opportunity for him at 97.3, which is co-owned by ARN and Nova owner DMG Radio.

The other inference to be drawn from the move is that 97.3, which has been resisting networking (and has been successful in doing so), is being brought more into line with ARN's Mix brand.

4BC announces summer stars

Posted December 8th, 2011 by debritz

Former Brisbane television newsreader Jillian Whiting will team up with onetime 4BH and 4BC breakfast host Kim Mothershaw to present the breakfast show on 4BC over summer.

They will replace Peter Dick and Mary Collier, who are taking a Christmas break, from December 19 until December 30.

From January 2 to 6, Mothershaw will be joined in the breakfast chair by Dean Banks, a radio veteran who was once part of 3AW's breakfast line-up.

Meanwhile, 4BC has also confirmed that garden guru Colin Campbell will be hanging up the microphone after almost 30 years on air.

His last show will be on Sunday, January 1. His co-host Clair Levander, a qualified horticulturalist, will continue on in the popular show.

In a statement, 4BC general manager David McDonald said: “This is an extremely sad time for Col’s listeners and staff at 4BC. He has had nothing but a positive influence on both the station and the gardening industry over many, many years.

"I would like to personally thank him for his major contribution and wish both him and his wife Beverly all the very best for his pending retirement.”

Colin Campbell photo from

A dirty, fishy business

Posted December 7th, 2011 by debritz

It's being billed as the biggest marketing blunder of the year. Advantage SA and Advantage Adelaide sent out goldfish to promote South Australia in bowls carrying the slogan: “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water.”

Sadly, "a number" of the fish were dead on arrival at their destinations.

However, those in the media with long memories will remember a time when journalists were deliberately sent dead fish (and I'm not talking about the barramundi sent to Media Watch.)

When the John Cleese film A Fish Called Wanda was released in Brisbane in 1988, the publicists sent a live goldfish to movie journalists. As far as I know, they were all still alive when delivered.

A rival firm publicising the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels then sent a dead gold fish to the same journalists, including a close colleague of mine.

Somehow I don't think anybody will be doing that again any time soon.

Laugh with the ladies

Posted December 6th, 2011 by debritz

It's a case of two down, one to go for Ladies' Comedy Night at the Sit Down Comedy Cub at the Paddington Tavern.

Mel Buttle joined MC Katrina Davidson on stage last Sunday, and on December 11 it'll be Fiona McGary's turn to headline. Rumour has it that B105's Stav Davidson (nepotism alert: he is related to Kat by marriage) will be making a guest appearance as the token male in the show.

Even if Stav, who is busy raising fund for the station's Children's Hospital Appeal this week, is a no-show, it's no reason not to go. Last week's crowd, including some familiar voices from Brisbane radio, had a hoot.

Details are here.

Tribute to Artie Beetson

Posted December 4th, 2011 by debritz

A state memorial service for rugby league legend Arthur "Artie" Beetson will be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday, December 18, at midday.

Premier Anna Bligh also announced that a bronze statue of Beetson would be cast and exhibited at the northern plaza of the stadium. The statue will be funded equally by the Queensland Government, the Former Origin Greats (FOGs) and Channel 9.

Beetson, who died while cycling on the Gold Coast last week, was the first indigenous Australian to captain his country in any sport.

He also captained the first Queensland State of Origin team.

Tim's a'changing

Posted December 4th, 2011 by debritz

Gold Coast breakfast radio host Tim Cox says he's excited about packing his bags and moving to Brisbane.

As part of a series of changes at 612ABC, Cox (at left in picture) will be hosting the daily drive program in 2012.

Cox, who has most recently been heard on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast and had a long career before that on ABC Tasmania, won't be joining the ranks of the Coast-to-city commuters. He told me he will definitely be moving to somewhere in Brisbane, where he'll be working from the new ABC studios at South Bank.

"We have a few areas in mind but want to be settled before I start on-air," he said.

Cox said the priority was getting his young son settled in a new school.

"[I'm] very excited about the move - for me, 612 embodies all that is great about ABC Local Radio."

Meanwhile, Steve Austin (right in picture) says he's honoured to be asked to take back the reins of the 612 morning shift, which he hosted in the early 2000s before moving to evenings.

"I can't think of a more exciting time then now to be returning to mornings. 2012 is shaping up one of the most interesting periods in my lifetime. You can expect some quality debates, panels, distinguished guests and a bit of fun along the way," he said in an ABC media release.

"I look forward to the challenging role and hope the listeners will be both surprised and entertained as we bring the realities of the world closer to Brisbane.”

"I'm looking forward to being a part of that and all that Brisbane has to offer."

Photos from

Dan's stand set to end

Posted December 3rd, 2011 by debritz

In answer to questions about the Nova 106.9FM line-up for 2012, my information from a self-described "extremely credible source" is that Stand-In Dan Anstey will be only warming the seat anchoring the Ash, Camilla and Luttsy show until early in the new year.

Former Nova anchor Kip Wightman, who is currently being heard on Nova's half-sister station 97.3FM, is expected to return to the job in April.

Anstey will remain with the station in an as-yet-unspecified role.

Pay for no play?

Posted December 3rd, 2011 by debritz

Over at the excellent Mumbrella website, Jason "Jabba" Davis provides an insider's view of commercial radio.

His piece is very entertaining, and he makes several interesting observations about the nature of radio and the people who inhabit it.

But it was this bit, where he addresses why he quit his show on Nova, that really caught my attention:

The truth? I didn’t feel I would ever go anywhere in the organization, I was uncomfortable with my on-air partnership, and I couldn’t take the repetition of turning up for work every day to deceive an audience who were barely listening in the first place.

Each night I would urge the show’s young fan base to “call now and vote for your favourite song”. Of course the playlist was determined at 4pm that afternoon.

Davis is apparently saying that the kids who called in to vote were being misled; that they were wasting their money because, no matter which song they voted for, the ones that would be played were predetermined.

If that's the case, are there grounds for all those people to claim back the cost of their calls? Should government agencies be investigating?

Update: Davis has replied to me via Twitter:

sure. Refund the dozen or so "vote" calls... People mainly rang to get a code word for prizes and that aspect was 100% legitimate.

612 names 2012 lineup

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane's Radio 612ABC has announced its weekday line-up for 2012, with two new voices and a reshuffle of exisiting talent.

Steve Austin is returning to the morning shift, which includes the ABC's agenda-setting State political and current affairs coverage from 8.30am, and will be replaced on the evening shift by Rebecca Levingston (pictured), an experienced announcer and producer who has filled many roles on 612 in recent years.

Kelly Higgins-Devine is moving from Drive to the afternoon shift, to be replaced by Tim Cox, who is currently the breakfast announcer on ABC Coast FM on the Gold Coast.

The full line-up, which represents the first change for 612ABC in five years, is:

  • Breakfast with Spencer Howson

  • AM
  • Mornings with Steve Austin (who moves from Evenings, but was the Mornings host before recent incumbent Madonna King. He has also been the program director at 612.)
  • Richard Fidler's Conversations
  • The World Today
  • Afternoons with Kelly Higgins Devine (who moves from the Drive shift to replace Fidler, who is winding back his on-air time.)
  • Drive with Tim Cox (a highly regarded ABC announcer who recently moved to the Gold Coast from Hobart.)
  • PM
  • Evenings with Rebecca Levingston (replacing Steve Austin).

Meanwhile, B105 and Triple M have confirmed that they will go into 2012 with their current line-ups. It is also believed the line-up will stay the same at 4KQ, where Laurel Edwards, who co-hosts breakfast with Gary Clare and Mark Hine, recently celebrated 20 years in the job.

B105 and Triple M both changed their breakfast teams this year, with The Grill Team with Greg Martin replacing The Cage with Ian Skippen on the Ms.

At B105, Abby Coleman joined Jason "Labby" Hawkins and Stav Davidson, replacing Camilla Severi, who joined Nova 106.9's breakfast show, along with Ash Bradnam, David "Luttsy" Lutteral and "Stand In" Dan Astey. The former breakfast team of Meshel Laurie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold now host the national Nova drive show.

Most stations will be going into summer mode in the next few weeks, with many programs originating from Sydney or Melbourne.

B105 will be taking the national Summer Fill In Show with Andy Lee, Glenn Robbins and Cackling Jack for two weeks from December 5. Will and Woody will take over until January 6.

612ABC's breakfast show will be hosted by Stacey Milner. Spencer Howson will return to the airwaves in time to present the show from the ABC's new South Bank Parklands studios on January 27.

The official 612 ABC media release is here.

Photo of from

Mouse in the house

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

You've got to reward PR effort like this. The folks plugging the Disney Live: Mickey's Music Festival shows, in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast in January, have released what they claim to be Mr Mouse's "rider" for the tour.

It is as follows:

1. Cheese.
Known cheese aficionados, Mickey and Minnie are both very keen to sample local Australian varieties, and have requested a selection of the famous Queensland Kenilworth and Maleny cheeses; the Apenzell cheese from Sunshine Coast cheesemaker Fromart (recently crowned Queensland’s Champion Cheese); and the Caerphilly from Witches Chase on Mount Tambourine. Please also include 2kg of Coon and Bega's top sellers, prepared in whatever what is best for tasting. They are really looking forward to sampling local produce in Queensland!).

2. Chocolate cake.
Though Minnie’s chocolate cake is Mickey’s absolute favourite, he would like to request a large chocolate cake of your choosing to share with the cast and crew before a big show.

3. A framed picture of Minnie Mouse.

4. An air guitar.

5. An experienced mouse-eusse.
Made available 3 hours before the show to him and the rest of the cast. That would be lovely, thanks.

6. Extra-extra-large ear muffs.
Even during the Queensland Summer.

7. A large dog bed for Pluto should he feel like an afternoon nap.

8. A five seater couch in his dressing room.
Definitely needed so Mickey, Minnie and Donald can sit and prepare before a show, and then download after a show.

9. Cheese-scented candles.
Note: please no blue cheeses to be used in the scents please.

10. A karaoke machine.
Needed backstage so the cast and crew can sing up a storm anytime they want, it’s important that music follow them everywhere!

Details of the tour are here.

(Photo from Disney Live website.)

Stacey's the summer stand-in

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

612 ABC Brisbane producer and journalist Stacey Milner will present the station's Summer Breakfasts show from Monday, December 5.

Milner describes herself on Twitter as "mother of two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, semi-serious runner".

Regular presenter Spencer Howson, who announced Milner's appointment this morning, will take Christmas leave and is scheduled to host the first breakfast show from the ABC's new South Bank Parklands studios on January 27.

Breakfast will be the only local ABC Radio program during the move to South Bank, which will eventually house Aunty's various departments on the one premises for the first time since the abandonment of its Toowong site, which has been linked to more than a dozen cases of breast cancer among employees and former employees.

The ABC is expected to announce its full 2012 radio line-up tomorrow afternoon. While the extent of the changes is not known, it will include new voices in the Mornings and Afternoon shifts, replacing Madonna King, who has left the ABC, and Richard Fidler, who will concentrate solely on his networked 11am Conversations with Richard Fidler program.

Last chance to see

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

Scaffolding is being raised around the doomed Elizabeth Street facade of the Regent Theatre, so this is probably the last view you'll get of it. Have a good, hard look at what the powers-that-be in Queensland are happy to see lost forever:

(Cross-posted from

Don't stop the presses

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

The controversial Civil Union legislation passed through Queensland State Parliament at 11.10pm yesterday.

So, you'd expect it would be all over the capital's only daily newspaper this morning. Um, well, no - at least not in the home-delivered editions received by people I know who live as close as 4km to the Brisbane CBD, and surely no more than 15km from the paper's presses.

The story in the edition I saw said - on page 9 - that gay couples (and the rest of us, presumably) would "know this morning" if the bill had passed.

When I worked for the now-defunct Daily Sun, the deadline for the final edition was 1.30am on the day of publication - and for a big story, it could be pushed even further. Interestingly, even back then a colleague noted that every time new technology was introduced - such as the conversion from hot metal presses to "cold type" - the deadlines moved earlier, not later as you might expect.

P.S. You can read about the passage of the bill here and here.

Fidler gives up his afternoon job

Posted November 30th, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane radio 612ABC afternoons host Richard Fidler has confirmed that he will give up the 1-3pm weekday program to concentrate on his networked 11am Conversations with Richard Fidler program.

Fider, who is on leave while being treated for burns to his hands sustained during a "cooking misadventure", returned to the show today to tell fill-in host Chris Welsh of the move, which was first reported here at

Fidler said the burden of doing two shows was becoming too great, but "I did it for as long as I could".

Sources have told me that current Drive host Kelly Higgins-Devine will move into the afternoon slot. 612 ABC's line-up for 2012, expected to be announced on Friday, will include at least two new voices, in Drive and the flagship Mornings program, which was vacated by Madonna King last month. Terri Begley, who has been filling in for King, is believed to be among a long list of announcers considered for the position.

I understand that several "names" from other media have put themselves forward for the Mornings job.

If player does not appear, the audio is here.

On air this afternoon, Fidler explained how his shirt caught fire while lighting a methylated spirits burner used to cook a Vietnamese dish. He used his hands to put out the flame, and they were badly burnt.

He said he was recovering quickly but would be required to wear compression clothing similar to cycling gear for about a year.

"I'm up and about and walking as you see, perfectly unencumbered," he told Welsh.

Fidler said he was thankful for the medical attention he had received, and was grateful that his children, who were in the room during the incident, were unharmed.

He also said he had gathered a lot of scientific insights from the experience of having skin grafts.

"Part of me is going 'ow' but part of me is going 'cool'."

Photo from

Sue Donnelly to head QTC

Posted November 28th, 2011 by debritz

The Queensland Theatre Company has announced the appointment of Sue Donnelly to the position of executive director.

Ms Donnelly, currently executive director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), will relocate from Sydney to take the reins at the QTC from February 20.

“Ms Donnelly brings to QTC strength in strategic planning and policy, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, hands-on management expertise, an exemplary track record in advocacy, high level producing experience, and a widespread arts network, nationally and internationally,” QTC chairman Professor Richard Fotheringham said today in a media statement.

“Her appointment to QTC consolidates the company’s position at the forefront of Australia’s performing arts – after the appointment of Wesley Enoch as artistic director in June last year and the unveiling of Season 2012 to much acclaim,” he said.

Prof Fotheringham said the international search for the position was prompted earlier this year when the incumbent, Libby Anstis, announced her resignation after eight years in the position.

“Under Libby’s stewardship, QTC’s national touring reputation was assured. We now have purpose-built new workshop facilities, and have significantly increased the number of young people and students attending.”

Ms Donnelly said: “Queensland holds a covetable position on the Australian arts landscape. There is an amazing amount of creativity, energy and talent.”

“I am delighted to be part of the highly regarded Queensland Theatre Company and look forward to creating extraordinary and stimulating theatre with the team at QTC and artistic director Wesley Enoch.”

Catholic tastes?

Posted November 25th, 2011 by debritz

Update: Email received from ACU on Monday, November 28: "ACU pulled its advertising from the Kyle and Jackie O Show last week."

A screenshot from the 2DayFM website. Exactly how does this align with the values of the advertiser, the Australian Catholic University? Oh, and today is White Ribbon Day - presumably 2Day star Kyle Sandilands will take the opportunity to "hunt down" a "fat slag" journalist.

I have contacted the ACU media office for comment. (See update above.)

We need to talk about Kyle

Posted November 23rd, 2011 by debritz

Update: Holden has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Kyle and Jackie O show.

Yesterday, when I wrote this, I was in a conciliatory mood towards Kyle Sandilands.

I said he was a good, possibly great radio broadcaster, but he - especially when teamed with his 2Day co-host Jackie O - couldn't carry a TV show, and that the television networks should be looking for fresh talent rather than spending more money on him.

Then I became aware of this rant. Sandilands had used his breakfast radio show to make a personal attack on a journalist who had merely reported criticisms of his Night with the Stars TV program (which turned out to be a ratings flop).

He called's Alison Stephenson a "fat slag" and a "piece of shit", and he criticised the size of her breasts and her hairstyle.

Well, Kyle, I hope you feel like a big man, because you're not just the King, as you like to call yourself, you're the Emperor - the Emperor With No Clothes. And it's time for somebody to tell you so.

Back when Sandilands was hosting the Hot 30 program, I interviewed him over an incident where he put to air a confrontation between a schoolgirl and her mother, who had been having sex with her daughter's boyfriend.

A psychologist I interviewed for that story called what Sandilands was doing "child abuse".

During our interview, Sandliands complained that nobody acknowledged all the good work he was doing raising funds for and awareness of Kids' Helpline.

As experts pointed out, this was a case that should have been referred to Kids' Helpline, not broadcast across Australia. Even Jackie O tried to stop it going to air, but Sandilands proudly boasted to me that he overruled her because he had "more experience".

Well, Kyle not only survived that one, he got promoted and has been
emboldened. Is strapping a teenage girl to a lie detector, where it emerged that she had been raped, or calling a woman a "fat slag"*, helping kids in any way? No, it's setting an extremely bad example.

I tweeted something about Sandilands last night, and one of my followers said I was just giving him "more oxygen". I disagree, and prefer to run with the tweeter who said that there was no point in having programs against bullying in schools if the No. 1 bully - who, by virtue of his primetime status on TV and radio, has a large following among young people (many of whom have body-image issues) - is allowed to get away with unacceptable behaviour again and again.

(It's worth remembering that his rant against Stephenson was not only aired on 2Day, it also made it to the program's podcast, meaning other "adults" at Southern Cross Austereo were involved in spreading this poison.)

I was wrong to think even for a minute that Sandilands had changed his ways.

We not only have to talk about Kyle, we have to make sure that his employers - Southern Cross Austereo and the Seven Network - do something to rein him in.

And the authorities must make it clear that if his employers don't do something about Sandilands, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will.

* Do you detect a pattern here? The victims of his rants are often women. David Penberthy has more on that here.

PS: A petition at is calling for Sandilands to be sacked.

Australia's got better talent

Posted November 22nd, 2011 by debritz

Update: Mumbrella has charted the show's dramatic fall from 1.4 million viewers (inherited from The X Factor) to 255,000 at the end. It has also reported on Sandilands' extraordinary on-air rant, in which he threatened to "hunt down" a journalist who wrote about the show.

I chose not to watch Kyle and Jackie O's Night With The Stars last night. In that decision, I was not alone.

Now, obviously I can't comment on the show itself (although others have) - but that's my point. Like so many other Australians, I deliberately did not watch it because I knew I wouldn't like it.

According to the OzTam figures, NWTS had only 560,000 viewers, coming 20th for the night and coming a poor second in its timeslot to The Mentalist (790,000 viewers). I haven't seen the demographic breakdowns, which I am sure the Seven Network will be eager to push if they suit whatever pitch they made to advertisers, but when the premiere of a show with "name" stars does that badly overall, there's not a lot of good news to be had.

I admit I have issues with Kyle Sandilands, including his cavalier approach to what he does and his astounding lack of self-awareness, but I also concede that he is a good, perhaps even great, radio broadcaster and he is undoubtedly a very successful one. However, apart from the brief screentime he enjoys as the acerbic judge on various talent shows, he is not a television star.

Sandilands has, at least, earned the right to have a go (and probably has a contractual arrangement with Seven to give him a platform beyond the talent shows). Jackie Henderson should just be thankful she comes as part of the package, because no programmer who was even vaguely aware of her track record would give her a gig.

The fact is that Henderson on her own, and she and Sandilands as a double act, have had enough chances on TV. It's somebody else's turn.

Every precious amount of airtime, and every dollar spent, on NWTS could have been more wisely invested. There are so many talented Australians who never get a look-in with television work because the usual suspects are clogging up the airwaves.

It really is time for television executives to get out a bit more and see some of our stage talent, and to consider pitches that come from beyond the small, exclusive club of creators and producers whose shows dominate our screens.

Yes, Australia has got talent, but are television bosses are not really looking for it. At a time when free-to-air TV is struggling, that is simply not good enough.

(Photo of Kyle and Jackie O from

Syndicate content