Crikey’s 3300 subscribers have been getting regular email updates of Stan Zemanic’s regular gaffs, insults and sackings over the past two months on the former top-rating Melbourne Talk station 3AW. Here’s a sample of what you’d get as a subscriber from our Talkback Radio Insiders.

By The Original Talkback Radio Insider

First published May 15

I wonder if anyone noticed how uncharacteristically rattled Stan Zemanek became at the very end of his 3AW programme on Friday?

It had been another stellar week of thoughtful, new millenium broadcasting, littered with the usual pinheaded diatribe about morons, imbeciles, socialist criminals in the ALP, women drivers, bludgers, bony-arsed students, etc.

At about 5.58pm, Stan took the final call of the show from a well-spoken, reasoned, rational and obviously intelligent listener – a rarity on AW Drivetime these days – who had clearly had enough of the rubbish that now passes for programme content on the once-respectable news/talk station.

This caller refused to rise to the bait of Stan’s standard interruptions, preferring to push on, unfazed and unprovoked, through a welter of predictable and well-worn insults.

I wish I had recorded the caller’s comments but – if I may paraphrase from memory – he derided Zemanek as lazy, a fool, a bully, a buffoon and with a number of other deadly-accurate observations before calmly hanging up.

Zemanek was left floundering dumbly in the wake of someone he couldn’t stand over, belittle, rile, out-bluster, or cut off.

There was a moment of silence before – sounding shocked and quite impotent – he recovered himself slightly and muttered, “A – another gutless wanker. A witless, gutless wanker. Who can’t stand the heat.” he ended lamely.

It wasn’t a pretty way to finish the programme, or the week. But it was instructive for those of us who, having persevered with the show since its inception, can now offer an informed and long-term view of Stan’s on-air style.

Zemanek clearly hates having to share the airwaves with anyone he can’t push around. He revels in outpointing callers whose opinions differ from his, but lacks the intellect to analyse or debate complex issues.

He masks this failing by rejecting sophisticated argument, ostensibly, as dull radio – a convenient proposition for one with such a superficial grasp of most issues, but one that other more able radio hosts disprove daily.

To Stan, issues must be reduced to black or white. There are no shades of grey, no middle ground, no room for compromise or negotiation. In Stan’s world, nothing is more important than taking a clear position.

Thus, Zemanek’s show degenerates into a series of exchanges that end in one of two ways:

(a) they allow Stan to create an on-air brawl, either genuine or contrived, for the short-term benefit of sensation and notoriety, or

(b) they allow him to bask in and take comfort from the caller’s agreement, which lends legitimacy to his opinion. Sycophants are always made warmly welcome.

Regardless of whether they are pro- or anti-, the calls are almost universally simplistic, low-level, and often trivial and intellectually flawed.

When the occasional caller survives long enough for Stan to anticipate his own argument being deconstructed or exposed as unsustainable, his usual tactic is to devalue the issue under discussion by making a joke of it, or simply by changing the subject.

He is the archetypal dumb but powerful schoolyard bully, writ large. His patronising and sexist attitude to women reflects his admittedly primitive schooling and dovetails with his outdated views on a range of issues.

Stan makes light of his stated lack of formal education (“I was lucky to pass the Intermediate, ho ho”) and holds up his own unarguable financial success as an example of the benefits of sheer hard work. The flip side of this is that he automatically becomes suspicious and defensive of – and typically denigrates – any callers who identify themselves as tertiary-educated. Values and qualities other than material or financial ones appear to elude him. He is typical of the newly-moneyed – wealth without the mitigating influence of class.

Like many self-made but unintelligent men, Stan is unconsciously self-obsessed and generally fascinated with the story of himself.

He never tires of telling and re-telling vignettes that paint him in a positive light, and from which he assumes listeners will benefit. Regulars will have lost count of the number of times they’ve heard how in 1987 Stan was unemployed with just $1.50 in the bank, or how in 1983 he “covered” Australia’s successful America’s Cup challenge in Newport.

He likes to portray himself as a likeable knockabout joker, but the humility and genuinely self-deprecating humour that accompany that tag are not among the arrows in Stan’s quiver. What humour he does exhibit is usually hackneyed, unfunny, divisive, cruel and adolescent, and often coarse and offensive by community standards.

Like a latter-day Pauline Hanson, Stan trots out popular cliche51s which appeal to the sense of injustice and bitterness felt by many Australians in 2002 – political parties “line their coffers”, executives have their “snouts in the trough”, refugees are “queue jumpers” and the like – but rarely has recourse to any reliable evidence to back up his assertions.

His technical skills as a broadcaster are unquestionably among the lowest of anyone working in Australian radio, and inferior to many community station announcers. He seems incapable of smoothly operating a studio despite the advantages of modern technology and of having experienced and talented producers supporting him. He frequently confuses callers’ names and is uncertain of which call to take next. He routinely talks audibly to his production staff on-air, to the exclusion of listeners, with in-jokes and half-completed questions adding to the confused and generally patchy tone.

Editorial items – the issues of the day gathered by producers and intended to provoke comment from callers – are prepared for him word-for-word and read direct to air. Often stories appear to have been read straight from the pages of the Melbourne tabloid, the Herald Sun. There is no independent thought process, little spontaneity and every story is tagged with the now-standard, “Well, I wonder what you people out there think of (insert subject here)…”

Live commercial reads – typically charged at a hefty loading to advertisers – are delivered unthinkingly as a gushing stream of words without apparent rehearsal or discernible expressiveness, usually with a trail of errors and stumbles.

3AW – for years Melbourne’s leading news/talk provider and a worthy setter of the day’s news agenda – cannot emerge from the Zemanek experiment undamaged. The station’s serious news coverage now effectively ends as soon as Neil Mitchell’s programme concludes at noon.

774-3LO with Jon Faine & Virginia Trioli driving the ABC’s local radio news & current affairs is rock-steady, reliable and intelligent and will soon prove too tempting for the thousands of listeners who are tiring of Zemanek’s circus act. 3AK will soon have access to considerable cash reserves and can’t be relied upon by competitors to wallow in the ratings cellar for too much longer.

In short, AW is running out of time.

Go well, Talkback Radio Insider



Sealed Section May 13

A Different Talkback Radio Insider writes:

Genghis Stan has done it again. Ripping off Steve Vizard, David Letterman, Merv Griffin and about half a dozen others, the ever original, always unpredictable Stan did a top 10 last week – the top 10 things in the legal profession that sound rude but really aren’t.

Thus followed some comedic gems: “Let me see her briefs”, “(About a sentence) This judge is tough. He’ll give her a stiff one.” Brilliant stuff. Obviously Stan’s new producers share Stan’s keen sense of comedy for, as bad as they were, Stan clearly didn’t write the jokes. A double entendre is just a bit beyond Stan’s mental capacity.

Chairman Stan even took a couple of swipes at Crikey yesterday. A one stage a caller phoned in to blow raspberries (yes, raspberries) at Stan. Typically he didn’t dump the call, choosing instead to deliver some witty and well-observed insults (“You’re a moron” et al), then asked who the caller was. He then said: “It must be that bloke from Crikey”, and went on about how you turned up for a spot on the program and he left you sitting in the foyer in a chicken suit.

(CRIKEY: I last turned up at 3AW on Steve Price’s last day in February and it was the 7-foot green Crikey foam suit not a chicken suit. I did drop a joke application for Pricey’s job into the office but surely not even Stan could have taken that seriously.)

At one stage late in the day a caller came on to challenge Stan’s fair and egalitarian stance on asylum seekers – “They’re not asylum seekers. They’re illegal immigrants and we should send them all back to where they came from.” The caller was a softly spoken chap and, rather than debate the issue, Stan chose instead to take the p**s. It turned out the bloke was unemployed and until he found himself out of worked was a social welfare worker. Didn’t Stan go to town on that one.

A friend of mine working in the 3AW newsroom confirmed my recent observation that only male newsreaders read news headlines with Stan – apparently the women don’t wish to be denigrated on air as Stan makes leering comments about their outfits and their lovely legs. Those concerned are obviously just hairy, pinko feminists.

I fondly remember the days when 3AW’s drive program was news-based. Producers with news sense lined up some newsy talent and a journalist with some nous asked some appropriate questions. Steve (the Little Emperor) Price (enjoying his Waterloo at 2UE as we speak), Paul Barber, Mark Day, Murray Nicoll and others had built that newsy reputation for years.

Now we have Genghis Stan carping about dole bludgers, welfare cheats and socialist criminals in the Labor party, giving us all chapter and verse on his years of hard work and how McDonald’s paying kids $4 an hour is not exploitation and gives them valuable life experience. Give him a decent news story and he makes a meal of it, stammering as his producers spoon-feed him questions.

Current program director Clark Forbes didn’t do the hiring but he sure as hell should do some firing.

Another Talkback Radio Insider


By The Original Talkback Radio Insider

Like a motorist passing a car crash, I can’t help but check out the wreckage of the Stan Zemanek Drivetime show on Melbourne’s 3AW. His ratings figures dropped by half a percentage point in the radio survey released today and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving case.

Today Stan delivered his expert verdict on Optus’ pay TV operation. “In twelve months there won’t be an Optus.” Moments later he revised his estimate of Optus’ longevity upwards, but only to two years – shades of John Laws’ intemperate comments several years ago, which caused a cash run on a certain bank.

Like his AW colleague Ernie Sigley (down 1.2% today and now wallowing nervously in single digits), Stan seems to spend an inordinate amount of time plugging the various Foxtel channels. Are these blokes on the Foxtel payroll?

Stan also came down heavily in favour of the relatively low rates of pay offered to teenagers working at McDonalds and the like. His two daughters, he said, and don’t you pity them, learned the value of teamwork and earning money in similar jobs, and, hey, as Stan himself said, “I can’t default that.”

A self-employed listener who rang and begged to differ (twice, the second time giving himself away despite using an assumed name) was given short shrift by the Great Man: “You are an imbecile. You are a moron. What sort of business do you run – apart from a bullsh*t business?” (This last, unprovoked comment contravening AW program director Clark Forbes’ recent edict banning fruity on-air language)

Stan, bafflingly, then accused the caller – who was agitating for higher youth wages – of being “too stingy”, and concluded by suggesting he should “go and play in the traffic.” Sparkling stuff.

Fresh from the loss of two key staff members in as many days, Stan appears to have managed to alienate yet another programme contributor. Instead of regular correspondent Pam Mackay, the US Report was today read down the phone line onto tape (would you speak to Stan if there was an alternative?) by someone called Jenny Cooney who does not have what you’d call a high media profile. It may not get much higher, either, after she signed off her report with the Freudian pronunciation, “Jenny Cooney for the Stan Ze-Manic program.”

Apart from praising his own wise decision to move from Sydney to, as he put it, “the great city of Victoria”, Stan also managed to flag an interview with Michael Kroger who allegedly “tried to stop the 4 Corners story on Alan Jones from going to hair.” Yes, hair.

However, one gem that has so far escaped re-publication was his reference a fortnight ago to the West Coast AFL player suspended for touching a field umpire – Phil Materia. Materia – with an i – a.

Elderly Scottish caller Joy reproached Stan for using the word “bloody” and eventually was insulted and frustrated by him to the point where she told him to “shut up, you fat little bastard.” Go Joy!!


Sealed Section May 7

Crikey tuned in to Stan Zemanek for the first time in a couple of months yesterday and was just appalled. It was clearly evident that his two experienced producers had been sacked or resigned in the past few days as we told you in yesterday’s second email.

One mother of two who called to speak in favour of paid maternity leave was told that she was “a very bitter and twisted woman”. When she responded by saying she was actually “very happy”, Stan signed off by saying “thank you very much Catherine, keep taking your medicine”.

Another guy who called to correct Stan’s claim that 88 sitting days in 1990 in the Federal Parliament was the shortest in recent memory was suddenly challenged by Stan’s question: “are you gay?”

When the guy said no the response was: “you sound gay, are you divorced”.

Then we had this peurile line about Tasmanians having two heads and when a women called to complain about this Stan asked her if she was sure she didn’t have two heads. When this women mentioned her sister, Stan interjected: “who is sitting on your other shoulder”.

No self-respecting woman could possibly listen to Stan’s ranting against the fairer sex. There was plenty of “darlings” yesterday and also a major attack on brain dead dames driving 4 wheel drives which Crikey is not really in a position to attack given what our columnist Dan writes on this subject.

Stan is still mangling the suburbs, the Bellarine Peninsular was pronounced Bellarhine when it is “reen”.

US correspondent Richard Arnold was back on the airwaves with Stan yesterday and media tart Sam Kekovich is now filling in for Rex Hunt and Dr Turf who have given him the boot on Friday afternoons.


Special second update May 7

We knew it wouldn’t take long. 3AW Drive host Stan Zemanek sacked his chief producer Lisa Greenough last Friday and then his deputy producer Lucy Curtain resigned in sympathy this morning.

Greenough is regarded as one of the best producers 3AW has ever had and has been with the station since the 1980s. The blow-up occurred over Stan’s desire to interview crime matriarch Kath Pettingill and Chopper Read last Thursday when Neil Mitchell had already interviewed both of them that morning after the Victor Pierce killing.

Greenough had instead lined up interview with those two trekkers up at the North Pole.

Despite being a long term and highly regarded producer of the Neil Mitchell program, Greenough was disposed off ruthlessly as only 3AW knows how.

Stan has now p**sed off US correspondent Richard Arnold, Rex Hunt and his two producers. The ratings come out tomorrow and if Stan is down, we’re tipping he could be for the high jump shortly.


April 11 sealed section:

By Another Talkback Radio Insider

As a Monaro owner, we were outraged when a subscriber sent this account of Stan Zemanek’s drivel on 3AW yesterday:

“It seems Genghis Stan went into broadcasting because lucrative careers in neurosurgery and thermodynamics were a bit thin on the ground.

Today he has been carping on ad nauseum about TV advertisements for cars enticing people to drive recklessly. “Mmm, just saw the ad for ther Holden SS ute where the guy does doughnuts in a paddock and creates a rain storm. I might take out my old Valiant and see if I can do the same thing…”

A caller from Leongatha phoned the program and told Genghis that Carlton and United Breweries were allowing their reps to drive around in V8 Supercars to get to their sales appointments. Interesting idea that: hand all CUB reps a $500,000, 700 horsepower racing car for their fleet vehicle.

Off Stanley went, vowing to ”get to the bottom of the story” and to sort out CUB for being so irresponsble.

A few minutes later a CUB rep called in and explained the car was one of several painted up to look like V8 racing cars and used for special promotions. He started to carp on again about souped-up cars on public roads until the guy set him straight and explained these were street registered cars that just LOOKED LIKE the real thing.

What a twit. Come back Pricey, all is forgiven…


CRIKEY: If Genghis is supplied with a free Volvo just like Pricey was it could be argued this was a backdoor, indirect plug as we all know that Volvos are bought by the slowest, worst and most conservative drivers on the road.

GENGHIS ADDENDUM: Genghis Stan saw fit to interview soon-to-be former NSW Police Commissioner Peter Ryan this afternoon and tried to discuss at some length Ryan’s problems with the NSW Government.

Ryan wasn’t buying in, but where’s the relevance for a Melbourne audience? You can call it an anti-Sydney thing if you like, and I wouldn’t deny there’s an element of that in my harping about Stan. But would Sydney listeners question the relevance of story after story from interstate like we get with Stan? I reckon so. No wonder Stan got shut out of the Habour City.


Sealed Section April 12

Crikey doesn’t listen but it sounds like Stan Zemanek’s Friday afternoon program was special for the fact that the bearded burbler Rex Hunt fell out with Genghis and vowed never to speak to him again.

The exchange was reported as follows in Saturday’s Hun:

What started as fun turned to anger as Hunt tried to explain to the former Sydneysider why “mark” was used instea of “catch” in football.

Hunt then exploded when told by the drive host he could do as he liked on his own show but he was on the Stan Zemanek show.

“I don’t have to deal with your crap,” Hunt said. “I am never going to speak to you ever again.”

Hunt apologised for the outburst during his fishing program about 30 minutes later. He said his anger stemmed from his treatment his friend Graham Bond received on Zemanek’s show on Monday.


Mid April update

“As one can no longer bring oneself to listen to Stan Zemanek for more than a few minutes at a time, today’s column represents a quick sweep of the crappier afternoon talkback shows.

Unsurprisingly, Jeff Kennett, now talkback host on 1116 3AK, frequently cops abuse from listeners about what he did whilst Premier. In a diverting variation on a familiar theme, last Wednesday a caller gave him a spray about his behaviour BEFORE he got the top job – specifically, the infamous remarks he made at an ethnic beauty pageant in September 1985 – to the effect of, ” The other 27 (beauty contestants) that don’t win, I’d like to meet you later in the back room because I’ve got a prize of my own I’d like to give you.”

The actual point of the rather vague call appeared to be a complaint about development by the Kennett govt in Carlton, or something, but Jeff cut it all fairly short by saying he was proud of his time in office and all Victorians were beneficiaries, etc. Try as he might, Jeff often can’t help sounding like he’s still at No 1 Treasury Place. Although he did conclude the interlude with a neat kick at the current Bracks Labor regime, suggesting that we should all enjoy the fruits of the Kennett Liberals’ work “while we can.”

Over on 3AW, a commercial for the Melbourne Storm rugby league team promised listeners “the best in rugby action” which means that either (a) the ad was written by a Melbourne copywriter who doesn’t realise that to rugby league fans, “rugby” means rugby union, or (b) the NRL has finally despaired of ever getting Melbourne spectators to understand the distinction and would be happy if they just start turning up to games.

Between commercials – now the most sensible, comprehensible, and entertaining part of the afternoon on 3AW – Stan Zemanek was again diligently mining the rich seam of cretinism he has discovered in Melbourne. But one can’t help suspect that his repertoire is so limited that even the moron element will tire of him before he becomes comfortable with the local place names (although this could be years). After all, how long can he sustain himself with gems like “But is she a good sort?”; “You must be a first rate idiot and a moron”; and “I’ll tell you again – these people are not refugees”?

Talkback Radio Insider”


April 15

A female caller with a slight slur in her voice was asked by Zamanek on Monday whether she’d been having a tipple. No, she said, she’d had a stroke, actually.

What a goose this bloke is.


April 16

Our excellent Talkback Radio Insider writes:

Hi Stephen,

Today Stan displayed his theological bent, with a mention of the painful condition well known to religious malingerers, Repentitive Strain Injury.

He reaffirmed his status as a lazy broadcaster unwilling to carry out even the most basic research, by referring to the Victorian Police & Emergency Services Minister, Andre Haermeyer – who is fairly well-known in these parts, after two and a half years in the job – and pronouncing it HAR-myer.

He also reaffirmed his status as a crass, unfunny fool by wondering aloud about the origin (if it weren’t obvious) of the term “Queen Counsel” for the state’s top silks… “I think it’s because they’re a bunch of old poofs! Hah! Hah! Hah!”

On the subject of a widow’s compensation payout being reduced by 20% because the judge believed she was attractive enough to have a good chance of re-marrying… “Ooh, women’s libbers’ll be up in arms about that.” Has anyone apart from Stan actually used the term “women’s libbers” in the past 20 years?

On the ALP and the Democrats blocking Howard’s push for workplace reform, specifically, relaxation of the unfair dismissal laws… “That’s why no-one votes for Labor or the Democrats, because of their small-mindedness.”

Dr Stan also summarily dismisses the notion of workplace stress with the airy declaration that “Stress does not exist. People who claim stress just cannot cope with life.”

This typifies his approach: simplistic and shallow, with no grasp of his subject, but an instinctive understanding of the prejudices of a large chunk of his audience. He knows how to push their buttons but often struggles to disguise his boredom with having to play the role of arch conservative every single day.

The loony right wingers who’ve longed for an influential outlet ever since One Nation imploded have got their wish. Stan, with his uninformed theories and dogmatic ranting, is startlingly like Pauline Hanson, except her naivety has been replaced with his cunning.

Cheers, Talkback Radio Insider