Alan Jones is no longer just Gloria, but Gloriana, the reigning queen of radio and Crikey is keeping an ear on what Australia’s most powerful shock jock has to say. This week, the Bird Watching Team’s numbers have been swelled with new members reporting sightings of Stephanie, the Parrot’s constant caller.

Everyone’s a spotter. The Crikey Bird Watching Team has been swelled this week by a team of volunteers. All we needed to do was mention the name of that Parrot fancier and constant caller Stephanie and details flooded in of her habitat, behaviour and plumage.

That was a relief, because the Parrot himself didn’t have much to offer. Yes, he did reach new depths of sycophancy in an interview with the Prime Minister, softly cooing all the time, but other than that all we really saw were more nasty pecks at Macquarie Bank over Sydney Airport and anything else he could dig up.

Readers will remember how one of the honchos at Mac Bank, infrastructure boss Nicholas Moore, got carried away in the wake of the sale and said parrots give you psittacosis provoking furious squawking and beating of wings.

Now, our Parrot spends a lot of time looking in his mirror and doesn’t like getting his feathers ruffled, but is this the only reason why he is so interested in this matter?

The Parrot, with his friend James Packer, has the motto “we pick and we stick” and back in the bad old days of Squawks for Seed, a company with a vital interest in the airport, Qantas, always made sure his feeder tray was full.

This question kept your professional bird watchers occupied all week which is why we were so pleased when the volunteer brigade came forward with all their information on Stephanie after we mentioned her last week.

This is what we said back then:

“One of the great joys of the Parrot’s regular morning squawkfest is recognising familiar voices, those regular callers who never seem to have any problem getting through the talkback sieve to impart their words of wisdom to his holiness. These regular contributors usually ring with the same complaint, and get a free run with their sprays, no squawked interruptions, just the occasional murmured ‘yes, yes’ or ‘well said’.

“The Bird Watching Team has a special favourite, Stephanie, who rings at least once a week just after the 8:30 news and launches into the ABC.”

That made us think at first that Stephanie might be Paddy McGuinness putting on a falsetto but then we reached this more considered opinion:

“She is well spoken, with a slight plumb in her voice as evidence of good breeding. She sounds like an old Presbyterian Ladies College girl, that wonderful finishing school for the future wives of business and political leaders in Sydney. It’s a terrific training school, where the girls learn all those essential skills for dealing with life, like how to cope with divorce and what to wear to your second wedding.”

Well, we appear not to have been too far off the mark. This is what the amateur bird watchers have seen:

“Although now a listener enjoying Steve Price on 2UE, I used to hear Alan Jones last year and think Stephanie’s opinions are often, word for word, those of S.Millar of Kirribilli, often seen in the letters columns of the Sydney Morning Herald or The Mosman Daily.”

North Shore. Sounds good.

“I have a friend who has met the Stephanie who rings Alan Jones.

“Stephanie used to ring Mike Jeffreys (previously on 2GB in the afternoons before Graham Richardson). Mike Jeffreys used to let her talk on for as long as she wanted.

“The Stephanie drives a red sports car, has a son (or two) and is divorced. She was either educated on the North Shore or came from Western Australia and the ex-husband is in advertising.

“A few weeks ago Jim Ball (2GB) was doing the Brian Wilshire shift and Stephanie rang in each night and one complaint to Jim was why was he not on during the day.

“Stephanie was also a great fan of Ron Casey when he was on air.

“The Stephanie has letters published in the SMH and I think they are published as Stephanie Ann Miller at North Sydney.

“She met the friend at North Sydney when they had coffee.”

More of our suspicions sustained!

“Just in case you can’t get enough of her on radio, you can read her views too!

“‘Stephanie’ is S.A. Millar from Kirribilli. She is a regular letter writer to the Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald, reprising her views from the Alan Jones show that morning. Amazingly, she has never tried to ring Steve Price, switching instantly and irrevocably to 2GB when Jones went. Or perhaps Price won’t put her on.

“This morning [Monday] Stephanie thought that Sheikh al-Hilaly, the Muslim leader at the Lakemba Mosque, should ‘prostrate himself’ before her to say sorry for the rapes done by some other Lebanese people. She also demanded he tell her if the head scarves had been pulled off any Lebanese rape victims, because that would presumably show that Islam was a big fraud. The reasoning being, these rapists were in her view devout Muslims (huh?), so if they pulled off head scarves then the whole Islam-head scarf thing was obviously rubbish and a con to maintain a cultural difference.

“Jones went ‘mm’, ‘yes yes’, ‘well said’, and even ‘soft touch’.

“Stephanie also said the Sheikh should come on the show without an interpreter, because if he hadn’t learnt English by now he should have, and if he refused he should be “transported” (transported? like the convicts presumably)

“Anyway it was the longest Stephanie rant for a while, and so fluidly delivered that I’m sure she wrote it down before hand and practiced it in front of a mirror.”

That sounds like a Parrot fancier to us!

“I had the misfortune of hearing ‘Stephanie’ a number of times on the Parrot’s 2UE programme when he was there. I believe she is an ex Qantas hostie (trolley dolly) and yes, she does write her script before she goes on live as she admitted as much sometime ago. She is the quintessential sycophant who no doubt has photos of the Parrot throughout her house.”

Again, it fits our profile!

So there’s Stephanie. Amazing and great work by all our volunteer bird watchers.

And before we go, here are the observations of a bird watcher who’s spent a long time in the field engaged in wider tasks not just studying Stephanie but all of her kind:

“The piece you did on the Parrot’s callers was spot-on.

“I spent a few years in the 90’s working at 2GB as a newsreader, and I was amazed at the incredibly small pool of regular callers that made it to air

“By the time I left, I knew the voices of virtually every caller, many of whom made it to air every day and many of them called in several times a day on different programmes.

“I’m astounded that so many politicians place so much credence on what is said on talkback radio, after all, it isn’t exactly a cross-section of the public

“For a start, most of the callers are over 40, and most of them appear to come from the ‘shoot the refugees’ Pauline Hanson school of thought.”

Sad but true.

From all of us at the bottom of the cage, until next time, goodbye.

The Crikey Bird Watching Team can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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