Comment from Peter Saxon.
Kyle Sandilands is, in my opinion, the most gifted radio presenter on or off the air in Australia today. Arguably, more gifted than Alan Jones or John Laws, Christian O’Connell, Amanda Keller or even both Hamish and Andy together, and certainly, Ray Hadley.
Big call? Not really. Because what makes Kyle a standout, by his own admission, is that he does virtually no prep for a Mon-Fri Breakfast show that nets him, reportedly, around $7,000 an hour or $105,000 a week (assuming $5 mil for a 48 week, work year). Ray Hadley, on the other hand, has a reputation as a workaholic who claims to be of average talent.
“I do very little to zero preparation. But there’s a method to that,” Kyle told Karl Stefanovic on stage at the 2019 Radio Alive conference in Melbourne. “It’s not just laziness – I like to hear things as a listener. I like to go in (to the studio) with virgin ears so that I hear things for the first time.”
Backstage, I personally put the proposition to Kyle that “Hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
He replied, “True. But I’ve got both covered because Jackie is fully prepped and she’s right across everything that’s going on. And we have like about ten producers and they’re all fully prepped.”
So, what’s Kyle doing while Jackie and the rest of the crew is working well into the afternoon to prep for the next day? Answer: Anything he wants to. He can get away with his non-work ethic because he has a gift, an X-Factor if you will, that some cosmic algorithm or perhaps the fickle finger of fate has randomly bestowed upon him and has by-passed the rest of us mere mortals.
For the record: I don’t have a problem with any of that.
KIIS106.5 and its masters at ARN don’t pay Kyle to work. They pay him to get a result.
All that’s required of him is that he puts his mouth near a microphone each weekday morning – whether in the studio at Macquarie Park or at iHeart in L.A. or in his bedroom – and react, with whatever pops into his head to whatever’s in the news that day or has been prepared by Jackie and her team the day before. And as long that brings in the listeners that translates to ratings points, which the sales team can sell for serious money, management doesn’t give a hoot whether Kyle works 80 hours a week or just 15. Anything extra, like TV appearances, he gets a separate chunk of money.
In economic terms it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Gifted, natural talent like Kyle’s is in short supply and high demand which drives his price up. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the bean counters at ARN have worked out exactly what he and Jackie O are worth in terms of the revenue they generate for the company. What’s more, they’ve seen through first-hand experience what that revenue would look like without them. Which is why Kyle and Jackie O are worth every penny they’re paid.
As I said, I have absolutely no problem with that. What I do have a problem with, is that none of that gives Kyle the right to publicly insult and humiliate his own colleagues who don’t have his gift or access to ARN’s megaphone and must work long hours to eke out a living on around a 50th of what he earns while he’s feted like a rock star for doing bugger all, other than saying the first thing that comes into his head.
As you might know by now, last Thursday, Kyle delivered an eight-minute rant on his show denigrating management and staff as “losers” and “flops” as well as “spazzes.” To be honest, I haven’t heard the rant myself. ARN didn’t respond to my request for the audio and after spending some time searching for it in the time shifted version of the show, I can only conclude it’s been deleted. Probably not a bad thing given its potential to deflate staff morale.
Nonetheless, if the quotes reported in the Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail are accurate (and I have no reason to believe that they’re not) then it’s a damming indictment on how far Kyle is out of touch with reality.
Kyle’s quoted as saying, among other things:
‘We have to do everything our(selves) … we have to even rewrite the live reads because the spazzes down there, they can’t even write a live read.’
‘I am sick and tired of working here,’
‘Everyone is a loser, except for everyone on this show. Everyone else outside of this show is a massive loser. I am not joking.’
‘They have got no idea. This whole station couldn’t pull a root in a brothel with a wheelbarrow full of money and a grin. They wouldn’t know, they wouldn’t get laid. They are too dumb. Imbeciles.’
‘I am sick and tired of this joint hiring idiots to run things and then it takes them a year to find out that guy is a d**khead and he should be fired. Get rid of the flops. I should be running this whole joint.’
What sparked this tirade was Kyle’s misguided belief that the ARN PR department had somehow let him down by not publicising the fact that the Kyle and Jackie O show had recorded its highest ever cumes, ranking it the number one breakfast show in Australia on that metric.
According to the Daily Mail: ‘Sandilands said the PR department at KIIS FM’s parent company ARN should have fired off a press release emphasising his show’s ratings milestone, labelling them ‘losers’, ‘flops’ and ‘absolute a**eholes’ for the apparent oversight.’
Well, they did. I received an email at radioinfo from ARN’s Head of PR, Brooke Cashell on the morning that Survey 6 was released, just before the embargo was lifted. It couldn’t have been gushier about the milestone reached by the Kyle and Jackie show – enthusiastically endorsed by one of the “bosses” that Kyle is happy to malign, ARN Chief Content Officer, Duncan Campbell.
What’s more, the PR dept. also sent out several other emails that covers the achievements of not just Kyle and Jackie O, but other shows and other markets as can be seen on our Spin Cycle page that’s a regular part of radioinfo’s survey coverage.
ARN’s In-House Head of PR, Brooke Cashell
I expect that every media outlet that would be remotely interested in radio ratings would have received a copy of one or both of those emails. Whether they chose to run with it or not is entirely up to them. Short of showering recipients with gifts, ARN’s PR people, or any other network’s PR people for that matter, have very little influence over their decision.
The reason why most outlets like The Telegraph or The Mail didn’t run with the story is because it was about “cumulative audience.” Their readers couldn’t give a flying firkin about “cumes” when all they’ve known is “share.” At radioinfo, however, we run a regular feature on cumes that ranks each station and each breakfast show by number of listeners as well as a separate article that measures stations and shifts by share. We do that because, as “a site for broadcast professionals” our readers know the difference between listening and listeners and can read a GfK spreadsheet.
In essence, I don’t entirely disagree with Kyle wanting to push cume as the dominant radio measurement – I said as much in a recent opinion piece titled Cumulative Audience is the Money Metric that deserves more respect.
Despite debate within the industry about cume v share, while the current publicly accepted standard for audience measurement remains “share” like it or not, 2GB’s Ben Fordham will be deemed the breakfast winner in Sydney for the foreseeable future. To expect the ARN PR department to somehow change that on their own, is unreasonable. If Kyle’s serious about effecting change, he should make an approach to CRA which represents the whole of the commercial radio industry.
If Kyle’s attack on his hapless colleagues wasn’t bad enough, his use of the word “spazzes” intermingled with losers flops and imbeciles is beneath contempt. The word spazz, slang for spastic is a crude descriptor for someone who suffers from a debilitating and incurable disease called Cerebral Palsy.
While Kyle’s gift affords him fame, fortune and a lavish lifestyle, those afflicted with Cerebral Palsy have been randomly “blessed” with a different kind of “gift” – or “challenge,” as is the accepted euphemism – one that sentences them to a highly restricted life of discomfort and often severely impaired physical control of movement.
It takes someone that’s profoundly tone deaf to use the word “spaz” at all, let alone in a context which equates Cerebral Palsy sufferers with losers, flops and imbeciles.
If I were Kyle, here’s what I’d do.
I’d go into the station and call a staff meeting. Bring a peace offering like a huge array of pastries and make a heartfelt apology to everyone for acting like a complete dick.
I’d also bring a large bouquet of flowers for the Head of PR, and apologise to her personally for me getting it completely wrong.
Finally, I’d make an on-air apology for the hurt I’ve caused those of my 738,000 listeners who happen to suffer from Cerebral Palsy – along with their carers. And, while I’m at it, I’d write out a very big cheque to an appropriate support charity or research fund.
Peter Saxon – Managing Editor.
BTW: Here’s to the Spin Doctors
In my 20+ years as Managing Editor of radioinfo and, more recently Radio Today, I’ve worked closely with PR people at the various networks and, for the most part, admired the way they handled what has to be one of the toughest job in radio. They tend to work incredibly long hours, on call 24/7 for enquiries from dozens of media outlets wanting all kinds of information.
They are charged with the unenviable task of trying to get the media to run stories that their network thinks is news but the media doesn’t. Or, trying to prevent the media from uncovering news that the network would rather they didn’t.