Kyle Sandilands and Austereo/2DayFM management continue to take us for a ride. His comments about Magda Szubanski were his usual offensive best, and 2Day FM and Austereo management did the right thing in suspending him, but did anyone notice that it’s a non-ratings fortnight for Sydney radio? That’s right, the latest ratings period finished on Saturday, September 5 and don’t resume until Sunday September 20.
All the frothing and hissing about Kyle (mostly newspaper writers) seem to have missed that very point and Kyle and 2Day management are hardly inflicting much pain on the station’s bottom line. Other Sydney radio hosts, such as Adam Spencer in breakfast on ABC 702 and Merrick and Rosso, the breakfast hosts of Nova (a station targeting 2Day’s breakfast audience) have also taken holidays for the non-ratings break.
Kyle has got time to scoot off to the US to continue to scout for opportunities. He is now a client of the William Morris agency. His offsider, Jackie O, can retreat to her rural hideaway near the Kangaroo Valley of NSW without having to get up in the morning, and 2 Day management have put up some cheap as chips temporary hosts in the breakfast slot and will probably make a small profit.
In Melbourne Austereo’s Triple M station has plonked Eddie McGuire into breakfast during the break to generate publicity ahead of the next ratings cycle. It’s cheap (Eddie’s back publicity from other media), raises his publicity and tells advertisers that they can start lining up to try and revitalise what is a dying station on a dying network.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
So yes, sponsors like Optus have run away, or so they say, but let’s see if Sandilands and Ms O are back on air on Monday September 21.
“We support the swift action taken by Austereo,” a spokeswoman said. “We can confirm we have withdrawn all advertising on the Kyle and Jackie O breakfast show effective immediately.”
Well, Optus is obviously so upset that it’s punishing 2DayFM by pulling the ads from the breakfast show, but then what about the rest of the station and Austereo? It’s another example of selective ‘outrage’ by a commercial organisation looking for some inexpensive headlines. A far more dramatic move would have been to shift advertising away from 2Day FM and Austereo completely if Optus was that upset; it obviously isn’t.
There’s also some movement happening in Sydney radio that makes Sandilands a valuable commodity. 2UE is revamping its entire line up, starting with breakfast, where the expensive Mike Carlton is leaving. Next will be Steve Price, another expensive desk thumper. He can be moved back to Melbourne to replace Derryn Hinch at Fairfax.
2GB needs to start sorting out the succession at breakfast to Alan Jones: it’s between Jason Morrison, who has been filling in for much of this year for the unwell Jones, and the ratings haven’t lost a beat, but Ray Hadley wants to move to breakfast. A solution would be to hire Sandilands if he is punted by 2Day FM and put him into either breakfast or mornings.
Some old heads in Sydney radio reckon he could become a younger version of the late Stan Zemanek, a man whose ability to offend people exceeded Sandilands. There are plenty of precedents for high profile, offending announcers moving ship: John Laws did it numerous times, as has Alan Jones. The beauty is that they take lots of listeners and advertisers with them when they go to breakfast or mornings (the only shifts where a move like this works) on a rival station. Jones moved from 2UE to 2GB.
2Day and Austereo management know this, Peter Harvie, the chairman who claims he doesn’t listen all that much to Kyle and Ms O, would know the number of listeners and the amount of money that could shift overnight if Kyle departs or is sacked and he ends up at 2GB. For 2GB it would help revitalise the profile of the station and any listeners from the older demographics who might leave because Jones was no longer there (or Hadley) could be replaced by the younger ones Sandilands brings with him.
For that reason, expect Kyle to get a clip around the bank balance, but to remain on air. He’s got Austereo and 2Day management in a corner, and they know it. So Kyle will be suspended for 10 days, which is the two week break in ratings. Even if it runs over into the first week of ratings, the punishment will be symbolic at best.