And the Wankley goes to … do we even need to write it?

Everyone involved in green lighting the concept of strapping a child to a lie detector to interrogate her about her sexual experiences, live on air.

The R word doesn’t even need to be mentioned here. This was an abusive situation from the minute Kyle Sandilands, po faced Jackie O and the child’s mother began giggling at the sport of grilling a girl about her virginity.

It only went downhill from there.

But if you’re going to dine out on the sport of encouraging friends and family members to tear each other apart live on air, sooner or later something’s going to go horribly wrong.

And how.

A savvier, more empathetic, dare we say, more intelligent presenter may have handled the aftermath with a little more care than Kyle and his now infamous follow up question, but Jackie O shouldn’t escape scrutiny either. And she certainly shouldn’t be applauded for wrapping up the segment.

Jackie O — or Jacqueline Ellen Marie Last O’Neil Henderson as we like to call her — has played good cop to Kyle’s bad for years now. She was there alongside him in 2001 feigning horror when he confronted a mother on air with the accusation that she’d had sex with her teenage daughter’s boyfriend. Jackie labelled it “tacky” and said “maybe we shouldn’t broadcast this”. Then there was the 2005 incident in which Kyle interrogated a young 19-year-old staff member about whether he was gay, forcing the young man to out himself.

In this particularly ugly instance, Ms O was simply slightly more intelligible than her co-host in a prom queen kind of way. But she, along with Kyle, still chose to describe the experience as “weird” the next day — not words we would’ve chosen. But then Kyle and Jackie O do a lot of things that we wouldn’t do. That’s why they rate their socks off.

But accountability should work top down. Austereo needs to take a leaf out of ABC management and the Chaser team’s book by doing what they demand of their audience — listening to them.

Austereo’s 2008 Annual Report states:

The growth of Austereo is directly attributable to the strength of its on-air personalities, coupled with a focus on the topics that really matter to people. This is radio’s unique strength: entertainment and localised relevant information, in a constantly updated form. The content directors of Austereo provide the strategic guidance, the on-air talent provide the high energy and involvement that wins audiences. Kyle & Jackie O on 2Day FM breakfast reach 532,000 committed listeners.

If Austereo truly value their “committed listeners”, if they’re serious about “the topics that really matter to people” — they can’t just say sorry.

Take people off air, examine how this could have happened, conduct some internal reviews, come up with some answers, and hold your hosts accountable. Knock the wounded tone right out of them and give them a lesson in empathy.

And Optus, if you don’t have a problem with aligning your brand with a program that interrogates children about having sex then by all means continue to plaster your logo all over the Kyle and Jackie O website.

Oh, and there’s rumours circulating on Mumbrella that hairstyle on legs Jackie O pays $2500 a pop for her extensions.

Nuff said.

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