“I know rock stars, I know politicians, I know bad asses, like bikies, and everything in between.”
In part two of Kyle Sandiland’s exclusive discussion Peter Saxon, he reveals the name of his forthcoming book, the movie he’s working on, the state of the long running feud with Merrick Watts and even how he prefers to panel his own show, playing music off CDs, old school. Kyle talks about the underage rape victim incident and the Magda Szubanski – Holocaust gaffe.
What does Kyle think of ACMA and the red button in his studio? Read on …
radioinfo: In Sydney you and Jackie are number one under 40, while Alan Jones is number one over 40. What parallels can you draw between him and you?
Kyle: I think we both just love getting up and doing what we do every day. I never wake up and think ‘oh shit, I’d rather not go today’. I have to be quite sick to not go.
It’s one of those things I just enjoy, That’s my morning job. He likes it was well. Even though he gets in there at 2.30, for some unknown reason, and I’m getting in there at quarter to six.
radioinfo: One parallel that one can’t ignore is the fact that you and Alan Jones are responsible for some 80% or more of all complaints about radio to ACMA. What’s the common thread there?
Kyle: I think the more popular you are, the more people that hear you. If I’m in a shop and I don’t like the Kyle and Jackie O show or the Alan Jones show I’m probably more likely to hear it because it’s more popular and is heard in more places.
radioinfo: Down the road, at Nova, you’ve got Fitzy and Wippa doing all sorts of stunts and pranks as part of their show. Some of it is pretty edgy. In fact, they also made comments about the “Spider Baby”, which some of our readers thought were worse than what you said, yet there was no complaint to or by ACMA about them. Do you think that’s unfair or are you happy that Fitzy & Wippa keep flying under the radar?
Kyle: They’re actually nice blokes, I didn’t get on with Merrick and Rosso, we just clashed and I had a big rivalry with them. And they’re just two guys who came along and everything’s just nice and fine. I mean they are what you get, they are what you see.
radioinfo: Okay, we’ll get back to ACMA later, but talking of Nova, in 2009, A headline in the Telegraph famously proclaimed “Kyle Sandilands and Merrick Watts will never reconcile” Now that you work in the same building for the same company, have you reconciled?
Kyle: I haven’t seen him. He hasn’t come walking down to my floor.
radioinfo: That’s exactly what Merrick said when I asked him the same question earlier this year.
Kyle: He’s alright. I always found it a bit weird that we did have a rivalry. They were funny guys. I always liked them when they were on triple j. And then, because he was such a cock when I came face to face with him and he was such a wanker, I thought wow… And I think that he thought that I was going to be some big bravado filled monster, he just went straight into that and then was stuck with that role.
I mean, Tim, Rosso, we’ve shaken hands and I’ve had him on my show to talk about his book before he went over to MIX. But Merrick’s just not on my radar, I haven’t seen him.
radioinfo: So, getting back to the ACMA question: following the November incident, they’ve put an extra licence condition on the station. Do you think they’re being fair?
Kyle: That government body’s there for a purpose… but you know, just one person complaining can actually go right through…one person out of all those people, it just seems a bit ridiculous.
Sometimes I think they’re responding to perceived public pressure, and they have to do their job so, and I hate being in front of them. And I don’t wish anyone else to be in front of them. But you know they have a certain responsibility, they have to carry it out. They do it pretty well. They’ve never done anything that’s too overboard. They always respond however they believe they need to.
radioinfo: Now you’ve got a red light in the studio and the ACMA-imposed threat of 2Day losing its licence if someone takes offence at something you say – how has that affected your show? Do you feel inhibited or constrained in any way?
Kyle: I have done a few times – like when I come back from a suspension or whatever. I think ‘here we go’. You’re a bit more cautious, and I like to be a bit more free flowing.
But I’m glad the censors were brought in because that’s just another person – because some people they sort of turn what I say and the manner in which I say it. If I say something as a joke, and it’s written in text, then someone in Canberra reads it in an article that slants it towards ‘he’s done it again.’
But you can read a text very different than it might appear on the radio when you hear it. Most of our things have never been complained about. Usually the complaints come in a couple of days later when it’s been replayed on some other talk station, in some other state somewhere, and someone’s whining about how terrible it is. The story’s re-spun and it becomes a different story altogether. And then perception becomes reality and then someone’s complaining about something which no one in Sydney had a problem with. Its very weird.
radioinfo: Bruno Bouchet’s writing your biography for Pan McMillan….
Kyle: Well they came to me, I didn’t sort of go looking for a book deal because I haven’t even read a book since I was at school, let alone write one. But they came to me and said we’ve seen you on the TV on the headlines all the time with all these stories of what we believe is true and then months later we find out through another way that they’re not and it’s an interesting story you’ve got, you’re a homeless kid and now you’re on the big TV shows, and big radio shows and we want to do a deal.
And we pissed around. I was like ‘I don’t know’ to my manager about it. I don’t really want to sit around writing a book or telling some stranger all my stories. I’m just not interested. But they made it financially rewarding to do it. And I said well I’ll do it if I can speak to somebody that I know, I don’t want some 60 year old stranger in here with a recorder for hours and hours, week after week. And Bruno, he was the one I said ‘I get on well with Bruno’ he’s got some sort of qualification… (he calls over to Bruno on the other side of the room) you’ve got a TAFE certificate haven’t you? A journalism degree? I thought ‘f**k this’ he can do that.’
radioinfo: Can you give us a clue what its about?
I’ve called it ‘Scandalands’ – because I just didn’t want to think for too many days on it.
It’s about those early radio days. I was a f***ing pest. I would chase those black thunders around and I was trying to speak to Jamie Dunn and get any face time with him I could, any time I could. I’ve got those (types following me) now. I know what a pest I was. But him and I have spoken plenty of times since.
And it’s about all the scandals and what really happened. Like how I didn’t come out and discuss the lie detector situation because everyone was so outraged it was a fourteen year old girl. Yet everyone was replaying it and making a big scene and the news was chasing her around so I thought, ‘f**k, okay – I’m a c*** because she was fourteen,’ but everyone else is replaying it, printing it over and over again, trying to twist it into a story that it really wasn’t.
I read headlines that I strapped a rape victim and quizzed her about her sex life, but that wasn’t the case at all!
And to be fair and honest, with the Magda Szubanski little f**k up I made when, apparently, I was anti-Semitic. That was me just not knowing. That was not me having a go at the Jewish people. Like I knew about Burke and Wills but I just didn’t know about the Holocaust – I really didn’t. I’m pretty uneducated.
It’s a pretty open and confronting real story about this is it – like it or lump it. If you don’t like it, f**k off and listen to someone else. If you do, then I’m staying here.
radioinfo: You’re 41 – a year over your own station’s target demographic. How long do you think you can stay with 2Day?
God I’d like to stay there a bit longer. The others were 50 something before they left. So I should get at least another 10 years with this mob.
But I’ve just recently become friends with John Singleton and he said the same thing. I was at his office the other week and he’s like, “How long you gonna be over there fucking playing those pop songs for?” And I said, long enough. I do not want to want to go and talk about the water pressure in the western suburbs anytime in the next 10 years.
radioinfo: Hypothetically, if it came time to leave 2Day-FM, where would you like to go? Which station and what shift?
Kyle: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would like to stay at 2Day-FM till I’m dead. But realistically that’s not going to happen. But I would want to be in the mornings, like a breakfast or like a Lawsie shift like…what’s that other clown who hates me?
radioinfo: Have you achieved all you want to achieve? What’s next on the to do list?
Kyle: I’ve written a movie which I’m going to develop up, but I’ve put it on the backburner for a little bit because I’ve had X factor and Australia’s Got Talent for the last few years. So, but I’ve got a house in America which I live at for half the year, but if I do that movie I will have to not do TV for a while to get that up and running. Because I’ll produce it not be in it. But I’d want it done properly and I’m a bit of a control freak so I’d need to be on it.
radioinfo: What’s the movie about?
It’s a western suburbs Sydney kind of story, that’s how I originally wrote it like that but it could be set in any country about a drug dealing family that no father, very rough mother, it’s like a hardass kind of story.
Actually I took this story to Network 10, years ago. It was a TV show I developed. And they said it was fantastic but we’d never be able to go to air on Australian television. I said ‘why??’ And they said, well, there’s just too much swearing and violence in it. I said, if you took the violence and the swearing out, that would be Neighbours – we can’t have that. And then, like two years later, Underbelly came on. But that was a true story.
I like telling stories that are not set in Lassiter’s or Summer Bay. I like TV shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad, those sort of sub-culture stories.
radioinfo: Is that a product of your upbringing?
Kyle: I think I’ve just seen a lot and I know a lot of people that have seen a lot and have had a very different sort of lifestyle than what people would think is normal. I know rock stars, I know politicians, I know like bad asses … you know… bikies and everything in between. Everyone’s nice in their own way, but everyone’s got a different story to tell. I think there’s a lot of great stories to tell out there.
radioinfo: Finally, if you were addressing a class of bright eyed bushy tailed, graduates at the radio school at AFTRS, what would you tell them? What advice would you give?
Kyle: I would say learn your craft. And then adapt it to your ability and to your strengths. Because I think the learning of the craft of radio – not a lot of people have it. Because I still like, it sounds ridiculous, but I get all my songs burnt on cd’s every day and I still play off the CDs so I pitch them at a different speed.
I don’t play them out of the computer because you lose the artistry of being the conductor of the show. I don’t just let the computer roll everything out one event after the other. It goes back to old school days, like splicing tapes. I used to think, ‘wow I’ll never be able to do that,’ and I eventually could. It’s the whole art of running that panel, I like to make our show sound like it’s produced and it’s repackaged and sent out but its paneled live everyday.
I like music beds that go under when we speak so it gives a little bit more energy so when you flick around (the dial) in the morning, we always feel a bit more energetic than everyone else. And I drop the music bed down when there’s some sort of “angsty” moment or some weird event happens.
radioinfo: Kyle, thank you for giving me so much of your time. Am I right in assuming that this would be the most in-depth interview you’ve done for some time?
Kyle: Definitely! I don’t really do interviews. I don’t really like talking to people. You journalists just take what I say and f***ing twist it around.
radioinfo: But hey, I’m no journalist. I’m just an entertainer, as they say.
Kyle: That’s good. That’s what I am too. I don’t see myself as anything other than doing an entertainment show and genuinely having a good time doing it.
If you missed Part One