3AW’s Shane Healy won’t back down over Vizard

“I think my way is absolutely, 100% the right way. And you won’t see me wavering from that,” Shane Healy

Last week they took a great chomp out of fellow presenter John-Michael Howson for his on-air outburst directed at Julian Assange’s mother, Christine.

This week, Derryn Hinch and Neil Mitchell they’ve chosen to bite the hand that feeds them, attacking 3AW management for their decision to hire Steve Vizard as a fill in for afternoon announcer Denis Walter when he goes on holidays next month.

Hinch told his listeners that the decision, “Prompted me to write the general manager a letter which I signed off with the words ‘in disillusioned sorrow’.

“As I told management, and as I am telling 3AW listeners now: What are you thinking?

“Steve Vizard is still in disgrace in this town. In 2005 he was fined nearly $400,000 and banned from being a company director for ten years for insider trading,” said Hinch

Mitchell didn’t mince words either, telling management that Vizard’s appointment as Denis Walter’s fill-in replacement “threatens the integrity of the station.

“I don’t blame Steve for wanting the job, I don’t blame him for this. It’s his right, he’s entitled to work as he wishes. But the fact is I believe Steve Vizard is still in disgrace in this town,” said Mitchell.

But 3AW General Manager, Shane Healy, says that his presenters are entitled to their opinions but he has no intention of changing his mind. He told radioinfo,Some, because of what Vizard has done in the past will be a bit unforgiving, but the bottom line is, he is a good broadcaster. He is talented, he is intelligent. He’s all the things AW demands of a high quality broadcaster.

“Moreover, how long do you send somebody to Coventry? How long do you keep kicking him in the head and saying, ‘you’re a naughty boy?’ My answer to that is, ‘not forever.’ I think it’s time he was given the opportunity. I vehemently and completely disagree with those who have a different opinion. But it doesn’t mean they can’t have that opinion,” says Mr Healy.

The advice for young announcers working in markets, where they don’t command an audience the size of a Hinch or Mitchell, would be ‘don’t try this at home.’ Management tends to take a dim view of being criticised by staff.

But in this case, not only has Hinch and Mitchell escaped any reprimand from management, but the station has posted their comments in an unexpurgated series of articles on its website as they would any other news story. And for that, they should be congratulated.

Says Mr Healy, “My view which, fits with the culture at 3AW – which I like to think is the best station in the country – we charge our broadcasters with the necessity and the ability to have strong opinions. And just because those opinions differ to mine is not a reason for them not to have them. In fact I believe it would be absolutely hypocritical for us to demand of them to have opinions, and then once the going gets a bit tough and that opinion happens to be different to something I think or management thinks and then they wouldn’t be allowed to broadcast that opinion… well that would be ridiculous!

“I think our way is absolutely, 100% the right way. And you won’t see me wavering from that.”