How to be a Shock Jock – secret revealed!

Opinion from Peter Saxon 😉

Who wouldn’t want to be a Shock Jock?

After all, that’s where the real fame and fortune is made on radio. Nice jocks don’t necessarily come last but they don’t usually come first either.

So, if you’re sick and tired of having the proverbial sand kicked in your face come salary negotiation time, and tired of hearing that you must multi-task and deliver more from less – if you want to start running the radio station you work for as if it was yours – then being a Shock Jock could be for you.

Here’s the secret ingredient they’ll never teach you at AFTRS or RTI ….

Play the man, not the ball.  

It may be frowned on in football but on radio it’s a ratings winner.

Language is important here. Anyone who disagrees with you or has a different point of view is automatically a goose, a moron, a fool, an imbecile, etc. This is especially important if your opponent has formal qualifications in their field. The greater their credentials the more scorn should be heaped upon them. Otherwise, where’s the fun?

“Obviously you halfwit, you know nothing about talk radio,” Ray Hadley.

Shock Jocks are masters of their domain. Take Ray Hadley, one of Australia’s most accomplished. The other week he pulled an ad for UBD directories off his show. The ad, which focused on Fathers Day featured a catchphrase,  “Hey dad, get routed.” 

Ray thought it was offensive. Fair enough, it’s Ray’s show, after all. UBD and their ad agency, who had spent considerable time developing the ad in good faith obviously saw it as a bit of fun. The station’s sales department was probably less fussed either way and saw it more as revenue.

But rather than quietly pull the ad off air and get the sales department  to have a chat with the client to see if they could rewrite it, he got UBD’s marketing director, Roxy Ryan on air for a public dressing down. 

“Pull your head in you silly woman…” he told her. “Obviously you halfwit, you know nothing about talk radio, that’s what the program’s all about. It’s about me having my say…” Indeed it is! Lesson learnt. 

Even when you have a solid argument. Even when you’re 100% right, and your opponent concedes, make sure you put the boot in with a personal attack. It’s not enough to simply win the argument you must, at least, discredit your opponent – if you can’t completely humiliate them.

Back in May, the highly respected media commentator, Mark Day, in his column in The Australian, predicted that networking the 2GB breakfast and morning shows into Brisbane’s 4BC wouldn’t work.

“I hate to say this, but it won’t work.” wrote Day. “I predict that before the year is out MRN’s 4BC will be looking for new breakfast and morning presenters.

For the most part, Day was self-deprecating, happy to admit, in his article, that he contributed to that catastrophe. He never once questioned Hadley’s ability as an announcer. Nor did he wish failure upon him. There was no malice in his tone. He merely spoke from his own personal experience 30 years ago.

Nonetheless, Mark Day got it wrong – at least as far as Survey 5 was concerned. The hitherto moribund 4BC went up in share by 1.2 while Hadley’s morning shift piled on 2.3 points to arrive at a very respectable 8.2 share for the 9 – midday time slot.

You’re “a piece of shit, a little troll and a bullshit artist,” Kyle Sandilands.

For a Shock Jock worthy of the name, it’s not enough to have proven a critic wrong in such a spectacular fashion. There’s no room on air for gracious good sportsmanship. That’s for wusses. You must make it personal. Ray delivered an on air equivalent of football’s facial massage, saying of Day: “I worked with him at radio 2UE when he was the failing afternoon host of a radio program who didn’t seem to connect with his audience…”

That’s what happens when an opponent gets it wrong and you’re right. But when it’s your opponent that’s right, then watch out! – as demonstrated in this now classic rant from Kyle Sandilands when a young journo, Ali Stephenson, dared criticise his TV show which tanked. 

Kyle called her, among other things, “A piece of shit, a little troll and a bullshit artist.

And your blouse. You haven’t got that much titty to be wearing that low cut a blouse. Watch your mouth, girl, or I will hunt you down.”

While the Hadley examples mostly criticised the quality of his victims’ work and used (arguably) socially acceptable words in his personal attacks, Kyle went way over the top in both his choice of words and the far deeper personal nature of his comments – which, he later told radioinfo, he regretted. 

Those comments and the implied threat to hunt a young woman down drew the attention of the ACMA which eventually threw the book at his employer, SCA. Most shocking of all was the millions of dollars lost from advertisers cancelling their schedules.

But while Kyle collected nothing but brickbats for that episode in 2012, he got bouquets for recently calling the minister for agriculture Barnaby Joyce “a wanker” and “a gerbil of a thing” for threatening to put down Johnny Depp’s dogs if he didn’t get them out of the country after they were smuggled past quarantine.

As with the now classic incident from the master of Shock Jockery, Alan Jones who called for then PM Julia Gillard to be put in a chaff bag, taken out to sea and be thrown overboard, the ACMA found that Kyle (or rather, his station) had no case to answer.

Like an on-field tackle that lays out an opponent but doesn’t draw a penalty, Kyle’s audience on KIIS applauded him. Perhaps the key to being nasty but not enough to have a petition appear on, dedicated to your demise, is to pick on your own size. 

Politicians and other high profile media identities are fair game. Young entertainment journalists, not so much. And child victims of rape, regardless of how old they are now, are definitely off limits. Ask John Laws.

Finally, how do you spot raw talent?

He may not be the best candidate for leader of the free world but in the same way as Jarryd Hayne has shown a natural instinct for NFL, Donald Trump has all the hallmarks for a successful career as a Shock Jock. God knows America needs more of them. 

U.S. polls show Trump is the leading candidate for Republican nomination. He was recently interviewed by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on his Salem network show. Hewitt asked Trump some foreign policy questions mainly to do with the Middle East – a fairly prominent issue, one would think, for an aspiring President.

On a question about how he perceives the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah he said he ‘will know the difference when it’s appropriate.’ Trump accused Hewitt of springing a string of “gotcha” questions, like that one, on him. Surely for a Presidential hopeful the questions were about as “gotcha” as asking a candidate for Governor of the Reserve Bank his view on how interest rates affect inflation.

Trump’s knowledge of foreign policy was about the equivalent of Pauline Hanson’s understanding of the word ‘xenophobic.’ But unlike Hanson, Trump was not about to ask, “please explain?” Instead he went on the attack calling Hewitt, “a third rate radio announcer” and was reportedly considering blacklisting him from future interviews.

I’d sign him up now… if not for the sake of American radio, for the sake of the world.

 Peter Saxon


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