The Daily Mail is reporting that a ‘gutted’ Lauren Phillips has made a tearful apology to the mother of a murdered Melbourne teenager after cracking a sick on-air joke about the brutal slaying.
The KIIS 101.1 breakfast co-host created outrage with a flippant comment about how she listened to a podcast about 15-year-old Rachel Barber’s murder in 1999 to cheer herself up.
Rachel was strangled to death with a telephone cord by her family’s babysitter Caroline Reed Robertson.
Both Lauren and co-host Jase Hawkins apologised via a private conversation with the Barber family yesterday.
Rachel’s mother says Phillips was “genuinely remorseful” in an emotional call during which she was tearful and revealed she had thought about quitting after just six weeks on air.
According to the Daily Mail, the show’s executive producer claims that they believed the podcasts contents were entirely fictional, though some commentators have questioned how Phillips and station bosses could have no clue the podcast was about a real murder.
An ARN spokesperson said, “We have been in contact with the Barber family and have apologised profusely. Neither Lauren or Jase were aware that the audio they were discussing related to a real murder. It was never KIIS 101.1’s intention to be disrespectful or cause any distress and as soon as we were made aware that the audio wasn’t a fictional story, we deleted any audio references on our social media platforms.
“We take full responsibility for the podcast audio going to air and our background checks on the source of the audio should have been a lot more thorough. We would never have put it to air should we have known it was linked to a true crime and it was our responsibility for this to happen. We apologise again to the family for the additional trauma we have caused.”
Neither Phillips or her breakfast co-host Jase were on air Tuesday morning, but this was due to the public holiday for Melbourne Cup Day. They are due back on Wednesday.