Neil Mitchell, Jon Faine and the decades-long duel

The two have met only a handful of times. 

Despite a combined tally of just over 50 years on air, broadcast heavyweights Jon Faine (21 years) and Neil Mitchell (celebrating 30 years this week, as reported by radioinfo) have crossed paths on just a few occasions, according to a fedature article in The Age. 

As told to The Age, the two have seen one another on election nights when they covered the tally rooms, on the road for the Black Saturday bushfires, and an unsuccessful attempt to interview Faine when ABC employees were on strike. ‘We had a blue, which was not particularly edifying for anybody,’ Mitchell said. 

And there was a joint 2014 Melbourne Press Club appearance, which Faine joked was ‘kind of like an elaborate pissing competition.’

The rivals are reserved when it comes to discussing one another, despite the decades of direct competition in the radio ratings wars. ‘We run our own race, and I think they do, too,’ Faine said. 

Mitchell has fared better over the years in the ratings grab, although Faine has demonstrated the occasional dominance. But this year, Mitchell ascended to take out six of the six surveys so far. 

Faine told Fairfax that he considers the in-house team the competition, rather than rival networks. ‘My competitors are Fran Kelly on Radio National and Raf Epstein on Drive and Patricia Karvelas on Radio National Drive.’

The two acknowledge their difference in approach and background. Mitchell says of Faine: ‘He’s more legalistic. I’m perhaps more journalistic. I tend to be less – and this is not to say who’s right, I wouldn’t be that presumptuous – but I tend to be a little snappier in my questions … it’s rare for me to ask a long question of a politician; it’s normally more rapid-fire stuff.’

‘One of the things I try to do and he does too – he’s quite fearless. You have to be,’ Faine says. 

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