I enjoy being confrontational: Ray Hadley

His last word on Triple M, Orange

Comment from Peter Saxon

Last Tuesday morning, radioinfo broke the story of how SCA showed their appreciation for Ray Hadley’s networked Morning Show by presenting him with a gift: They cut his show’s feed into Triple M, Orange.

As gifts go, your average talk show host couldn’t wish for better. It gave Hadley (who is anything but average) the opportunity to stand up to censorship on behalf of his loyal freedom-loving listeners against a big corporate entity in SCA. 

And the gift kept on giving for three solid days. Each day Hadley would start his program and on each day at the first mention of the case in Orange, Hadley’s show was cut – not just in Orange but the Triple M network in large tracts of NSW and Queensland. 

The plug was reportedly pulled on Hadley after a complaint to local Triple M management in Orange from one of that station’s biggest advertisers, West Orange Motors. The car and truck dealership is currently involved in a matter before the local court concerning one of their employees. The employee was driving a truck involved in a fatal accident and has been charged with dangerous and negligent driving causing death. Apparently it’s something the client would rather not have broadcast across the region.

For three days Hadley lambasted Triple M, ”I don’t like being stood over by radio station management in provincial stations. If you have a problem with the advertisers, sort it out. But don’t try to censor me!” he raged.

Mind you, this is the same Ray Hadley, who just two weeks ago, cut the feed from the NRL Grand Final when US rapper Macklemore took the stage to perform Same Love. Instead of hearing Macklemore, listeners were treated to a parody song he recorded with his daughter in 2012. 

No doubt, Ray sees that as different to what Triple M did. How? Ask Ray. But I’m guessing it’s because Ray is less interested in semantics than serving his audience. They didn’t induct him into the Radio Hall of Fame for nothing.

In both cases Hadley on 2GB was merely doing what MacRadio pay him to do. Neil Mitchell on 3AW may go about doing his job in a totally different way but as far as management and shareholders are concerned it’s not how but how many listeners they attract. Both are number one by a mile in their respective cities. Can’t do better than that.

Their listeners love them both (albeit for different reasons) and therefore management dare not interfere unless they do or say something unlawful or likely to wake the ACMA watchdog. And in the end that’s what this spat was all about for SCA.

On the second day SCA’s Head of Regulatory Affairs and Corporate Communications, Creina Chapman made this statement: “We apologise for any interruption to the Ray Hadley program.  A continuing segment of the program relates to a case currently before the court which we are not permitted to discuss on-air.”

This proved to be another gift for Hadley who then went even harder because no matter how sincerely SCA held that view, to his audience it sounded like yet another corporate copout of the type they’ve heard a hundred times before. 

So, the next day SCA doubled down on the legal aspects of the matter by providing a much lengthier and more detailed statement to explain their position. But as Hadley pointed out, MacRadio has legal advisors too who have given him the all clear. However, lawyers rarely deal in absolutes, they merely offer opinions without any guarantees of outcome other than a hefty bill.

According to SCA’s legal advisors, the risk of them carrying a program that may be found to be in contempt for Sub Judice was just too great. 

Still, Ray was having fun and his listeners lapped it up. “I enjoy being confrontational,” Hadley told us on Saturday night, “particularly if I think I’m right and I think I was right. I didn’t lose any sleep over it and I hope they (SCA) didn’t.”

By Saturday night as Ray Hadley was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, all was forgiven. 

Near the end of his looooong but entertaining acceptance speech (a significant chunk  of it at SCA’s expense) he heaped lavish praise on each of his network affiliates – Grant Broadcasters, Ron and Stephanie Camplin’s Bathurst Broadcasters, Kevin Blyton’s Capital Radio Network and the recently formed Resonate Network – leaving us wondering whether he’d cut SCA from his script. Finally, he said, “Look, we’ve had a tough week, The Ray Hadley Morning Show with Southern Cross. But in the main they’ve been particularly supportive and I never really thought they’d take me off given that I get 42% at Port Macquarie but that’s another story, let alone the 38% in the Riverina… I know we’ll have a professional association into the future.”

 Peter Saxon