Crikey is getting sued by Steve Price for defamation and contempt but in a strange way we’ll miss the bloke in Melbourne as he really was a great entertainer and we wish him all the best taking on The Parrot in Sydney. Here are some grabs from his hilarious final show and we recommend the “highlights package” and “Ad Throwback E”.

Still, he might choose to come back to Melbourne for a few days on Alan Jones’s second week in the chair at 2GB for a solid bout of cross-examination from cash for comment QC Julian Burnside, who is acting for Crikey.

As the second most combative journalist in Melbourne after Pricey and a right-wing Richmond supporter to boot, I popped down to 3AW wearing the Crikey foam suit on Friday and submitted my CV to 3AW management as the obvious person who should replace the little fella.

And isn’t it ironic that Melbourne’s most homophobic journalist – who campaigns long and hard against the gay community – is replacing Alan Jones at 2UE.

Pricey has already signalled his intention to point out Jones’s sexuality and even misrepresented his own marital status in the process. Check out these two paragraphs from Friday’s Herald Sun:

“Price told the Herald Sun he believed he could beat Jones. “He is a single man and a multi-millionaire,” he said.

“I am married, with two young girls, and I have a much clearer understanding of what appeals and concerns ordinary Australians.”

Hang on a minute. Price has two failed marriages and is not married to former 3AW junior reporter Wendy Black, the mother of his two youngest children. Maybe this is all about stirring up controversy to get people in Sydney talking about him?

This attack was raised with the Parrot on Channel Nine’s Today show the following morning but he refused to bite back at Price.

Later that same day Price told his listeners the marriage line was “a mistake” but when Ernie Sigley said that Alan Jones was “a mate of mine”, Price responded “what, have you turned have you?”

Did Price also suggest stablemate John Stanley is gay?

Price also appears to have suggested that fellow 2UE broadcast John Stanley might have been gay with this little exchange on December 21 last year.

He was getting stuck into the gay and lesbian community when the Australian Broadcasting Authority gave them a community radio licence in Melbourne but passed over a country and western station. Then again, maybe he was joking although Stanley certainly shot one straight back across his bow as you can see from the following:

TRANSCRIPT: 3AW ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21

STEVE PRICE: Alright Bill well sadly you missed out, New Country FM was one of the bidders but they didn’t get it, the transvestites got it instead.

John Stanley is in Sydney for Harvey Norman mobile phones communicate your way. John do you have a community station up there for transgender, transvestite, gay lesbians?

STANLEY: If we do Steve I am not aware of it and I haven’t sought it out as you would imagine. I can do a bit of research.

PRICE: I would have thought you might have done a bit of work there on the weekends in your vast spare time.

STANLEY: No, I haven’t actually. It may be one of the organisations that you have applied for a job to. I mean you have applied to just about every other radio station up here. You have probably got a good list there, on your mailing list.

PRICE: Thank you John.

Southern Cross – a blokey Melbourne company

The move of Price is already setting the scene for a Melbourne versus Sydney tussle on radio in Sin City. The all Melbourne Southern Cross board appear to have mishandled the Jones negotiation and now taken a big risk leaving a hole in 3AW and putting an unknown up against Jones on the most valuable shift in the country.

The blokeyness of Melbourne-based Southern Cross Broadcasting and 3AW in particular was on display last week when 3AW General Manager Graham Mott left the celebratory dinner to talk with that convicted rorter Bruce Mansfield and his co-host Phil Brady on 3AW’s Nightline program.

GRAHAM MOTT: Good evening Bruce and Phil, how are you going? I’m actually standing here at The Rocks in Sydney on a beautiful evening but I can’t wait to get back to Melbourne where the people are a little bit more sane.

RORTER: Why, is it a bit crazy up there?

MOTT: Isn’t it always. It is the city of brotherly love.

Share prices and timely share sales

Jones has proved himself to be a serious market mover as his departure wiped 53c off the Southern Cross Broadcasting share price which values the loss at $28 million.

CEO Tony Bell must be really pleased he tipped out 30,000 Southern Cross shares at about $13.50 a few months back now that the price is down to $11.35.

And how reassuring that Arthur Andersen is the Southern Cross auditor. Next time we’d like a bit of disclosure on presenter contracts as it appears they are material to the share price.

Straight into the frypan

Southern Cross have been smart to throw Pricey straight into the chair because he’ll have 4 weeks to win over the traditional Jones audience before the Parrot fires up with 2GB from March 4.

However, based on Crikey’s experience in Sydney, Pricey will struggle getting his mind around Australia’s biggest city.

Crikey went to Sydney as business editor of the Daily Telegraph and it took almost two years to really get a feel for the city even though business is generally a national story.

When then Telegraph editor Col Allan threw me onto the news desk as chief of staff, I was an absolute disaster and one of the problems was a lack of geographic and historical knowledge of matters excluding business.

Graham Mott acknowledged this in his interview on 3AW last Thursday night when he delivered a sermon about the importance of localism and local knowledge.

“On Monday you will find that Steve Price will hit the road after his shift and drive out on the M4, the M5 and the M3. He will need to do that to get the feel of Sydney,” Mott said.

“He is the most determined character that I have ever met and I know he sees this as a fantastic challenge.”

Pricey will really need some good producers around him as he knows stuff all about Sydney politics, crime and the two rugbys.

Sledging Sydney

Pricey will have a lot of work to do sucking up to Sydney given all the abuse he’s put about the city in recent years. And he’s not even trying to take an interest in rugby league. When Parramatta Eels legend Jason Taylor contacted him at 2UE on Monday with a signed jumper and then followed up with a call to Pricey during his final 3AW shift, the little fella said whilst Jason was on air that he was the club’s highest ever scorer.

But after Jason had hung up, Pricey muttered to his Melbourne audience “I could not be less interested.”

Farewell to Pricey

The final Pricey shift on 3AW last Friday was good fun. Most callers rang up to wish him the best and thank him for an entertaining 5 years.

The little fella opened up with a chat to Ernie Sigley which included a mention about Pricey’s colorful father, who was a used car salesman in Adelaide.

Price: “My father sued you for calling him a crook.”

Sigley: “Well he was.”

It must be a case of like father like son because Pricey has emerged as Australia’s most litigious journalist with only the Parrot giving him a run for his money on the number of defo writs lodged.

Check out this exchange on his final program with Rex Hunt (on the phone from Tasmania) and Dr Turf after several callers rang in with surprisingly warm and friendly wishes for Pricey who would have to be the most abusive shock jock in Australia at the moment.

REX HUNT: I’ve cancelled my room service tonight, I’m going straight to bed after The Fishing Show. This is like Roland Roccecelli going straight. I can’t believe what I’m hearing, it is just crap Stephen. Tell me it is not true for god’s sake.

DR TURF: Rex, tell me how I should feel, I’ve been shafted by the guy twice, I’ve been sued by him once.

REX HUNT: He actually put an extension on his house because of what you paid him.

DR TURF: Yet my whole life surrounds the success of short people so I just don’t know how to feel at the moment.

REX HUNT Stephen, why don’t you just remind your listeners, your language is disgraceful, you’ve had arses hanging out and all this in the Gay Mardi Gras etc. You actually suspended Neal Thompson, a pensioner at the time, for saying “bullshit” on The Fishing Show in 1988.

PRICE: I think things have changed.

DR TURF: Why don’t you just run through for us all the people you’ve sued while on air.

PRICE: Why would you want me to do that, we’ve only got four minutes.

HUNT: How many have you shafted Pricey and then looked him in the belly button. How many have you done?

PRICE: Remember that bloke Jim Wiltshire I sacked. He had mirrored sun glasses on and I sat there watching myself sack him. I actually could see myself doing it and I thought this is a dreadful thing to do.

DR TURF: Couldn’t get the smile off your face.

HUNT: You probably got off on it.

The final sign off was a poignant moment that will go down in Australian radio history.

HUNT: It’s sad, get off will ya, get off, don’t prolong it.

PRICE: Goodbye and thank you to the audience. Rex Hunt and Dr Turf are going to finish the program because I am seriously too emotional to be able to keep speaking. Thank you for all the support I’ve had for the last 5 or 6 years. I am not dead, I am going to Sydney. I will miss you all and I hope that whoever takes over will be just as entertaining.

DR TURF: I have just seen the soft side of him Rex and it is not pretty, it’s pretty emotional.

PRICE: I’ll be back on Monday at 5.30 in Sydney.

HUNT: Let’s hope the next bloke actually listens to The Fishing Show.

Getting stuck into The Parrot

Earlier in the show it didn’t take long for Pricey to open up on Alan Jones, calling him “the Parrot” and dropping lines like “with friends like him you don’t need enemies”.

Ernie Sigley defended Jones saying “he’s a nice guy”, but Price retorted “bulldust he is” before predicting he’d beat him because Jones starts at 2GB with no audience.

Bruce Ruxton was one of the first callers and gave it to Pricey: “You like to carve people out and then you shut em off like a little coward. You won’t last in Sydney, they will be far too rough for you.”

Pricey is one of the very few presenters who regularly runs promotions for his own show during his own show. Some people say this is part of the ego trip but they were really getting a heavy run on Friday and we even had a 3 minute compilation of his best abuse dished out to callers when he calls someone “an absolute clown” and another caller “a closet poof” and told one 13 year old kid that “your parents need to have a good look at themselves”.

But the best promo he used was this spray on some poor women called Wendy:

PRICE: Hang on a minute, I have been very patient, I am going to bowl you over in a minute if you don’t shut up.

WENDY: You speak to women in a chauvinistic manner and I think it disgusting.

PRICE: Get stuffed Wendy and piss off.

Jokes with Ron Walker

Pricey and 3AW generally sucked up to the Libs for a good seven years during the Kennett reign and the interview with Liberal bagman Ron Walker on the last shift was very chummy.

PRICE: Could you speak to your friend the Prime Minister and ask him have a chat with me next week?

WALKER: He’s everybody’s friend, he’s your friend as much as mine.

PRICE: I’ll give him a call.

The Parrot is known to have the PM on a string so this will be one of the challenges for Pricey to conquer because The Parrot won’t be at all happy if Howard starts turning up regularly chatting to Pricey.

Steve Bracks grovels

The most grovelling call of the day came from Victorian Premier Steve Bracks who seems to have forgotten all that bile that Price’s 3AW threw at Labor over the years and the easy run they gave the Kennett government.

Sadly, I forgot to run the tape over it but it was nauseating with lines from the Premier like: “It is a credit to you that you have got this new position.”

Bracks even talked up his mate Bob Carr: “I think you will get on very well and he’s got a good radio voice.”

Dope smoking shock jocks

Now that’s he’s a family man with two young children, Pricey has become a passionate campaigner against illegal drugs and loves to sledge rave parties. Crikey was amazed to encounter the pervasive drugs culture in Sydney and estimates that about 30 per cent of the Daily Telegraph newsroom were doing cocaine on a semi-regular basis when I was in town three years back.

Sydney’s crime rates are double those of Melbourne so as an old police reporter, Pricey will no doubt bang the Laura Norder big time.

But it will be interesting to see if he ever confesses to his audience that he had a run in with the cops in Adelaide about 20 years ago when found in possession of some marijuana. We’re prepared to offer a free subscription to the first caller who gets this one out of him on air in Sin City.

Finally, The Age had a good wrap of the Price side of things if you click here

Peter Fray

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