A question of balance

Read how Jonesy and Amanda make their on-air relationship work and what they argue about.

Why Triple M fell in a heap after Jonesy left. And which past PD cut him out of the picture.

Breakfast teams, like marriages, are made in heaven. They work or they don’t. Some teams argue all the time and make great radio because of it, others despite it. Jonesy and Amanda don’t need to be interviewed. Just mention a broad topic and away they go, creating their own conversation … or argument.

Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller “met” on a “blind date” on Triple M when Amanda was partnering Andrew Denton on breakfast and Jonesy was all alone on Afternoons.

One day, Denton called in sick at the last moment. The show’s producer, Richard ‘Crusty’ Mortlock put in a call to the sleeping Jonesy in Oyster Bay, “You do realize where I live,” Jonesy asked, “I’m at least half an hour away’. And Crusty said well we need you here at 6 o’clock, it was 5.30 am. so I made it just on time as this show was starting and I sort of said to Amanda, ‘well I hope this goes well.’ We did it for a week and I thought it was quite possibly the best radio show I’d ever done.”

It took till 2003 for the relationship to blossom and for them to move in permanently together at WS-FM replacing Hans Torv and Kayley Harris. Having left Triple M, Amanda had been doing TV, “Where you do 3 days work a week and that was it, it was great.”

Yet she took the job at WS-FM, “I said ‘okay, I’ll do it for two years.’ I said to my husband I’m doing it for two years, put the money away. And here we are, what is it? Seven or eight years later and I believe that this has been the most fun I’ve had in any job I’ve ever done and that’s why I’m still here.”

radioinfo: How does the chemistry work? Do listeners think that you’re married?

Jonesy: People thought we were married.

Amanda: It’s true. People thought I was married to Andrew Denton too.

Jonesy: Aren’t you?

Amanda: My son went to Jonesy’s son’s birthday party on the weekend. Our families socialise together – I think the audience likes to think that we’re close, and we are. We’re not faking that. That’s the thing about radio you can’t fake it. It’s the great unmasker.

radioinfo: Do you have arguments like married couples do?

Amanda: I’ve had more arguments with you (Jonesy) in one week than I’ve had in my entire 22 year marriage.

radioinfo: What do you argue about?

Jonesy: The big one is the imbalance of profile. I think sometimes that can wear me down a little bit. Like when I first started working with Amanda, friends of mine were saying ‘working with Amanda Keller, you’ll take a back seat.’

radioinfo: So, who’s in charge?

Jonesy: I’m in charge! I’m the brains behind the operation.

(Amanda shoots a look to rival Julie Bishop)

Jonesy: It’s like Hamish and Andy. Everyone asks, who’s the brains of that operation? But I think I’m growing up about it.

Like it’s strange, it can manifest anywhere. We can go to a corporate event or something and I’ll be sitting there and people will be talking to Amanda and they’ll say to me ‘and what do you do?’ I think it’s my embarrassment when I say, ‘well I actually do the breakfast show with Amanda.’

I remember one guy going, ‘You’re what, like a producer or something?’ You just feel like you’re not part of the show. I’m not as sensitive about it anymore…

Amanda: Can I say something? Our radio partnership is 50/50 …

Jonesy: No! See, this is where the argument comes from. Amanda can’t see where I’m coming from…

Amanda: No, I do understand what you’re saying but it’s not like I’ve taken something from the radio somewhere else. I did 20 years of TV before I started radio, but you’re making Pete think that people think that my radio input’s bigger than yours. It’s not. We’re 50/50 on the radio.

Jonesy: No it’s not that, as I said it’s about profile it’s about if you look at all the other shows, people like Fifi and Jules for example, they’re on an even platform as far as profile goes, that’s all it is, it’s not…

Amanda: What about Kyle and Jackie O would you expect her to have attitude?

Jonesy: But he was in the same boat as me but somehow managed to eclipse Jackie O. I’m not saying that I should eclipse Jackie O, but what I’m saying is, it’s hard.

We’ve been doing this for seven or eight years, but it’s hard … particularly when Brad March writes in his bloody, whatever that stupid thing that he’s got online, and he writes about ‘top breakfast shows’ and he puts Amanda in there with one of our publicity pictures, but chops me out of it!

I think TV becomes the be all and end all of how you’re perceived as a radio duo. I think profile is still a big thing. It’s not like the old days where radio guys could just exist without being on TV. You look at your Fitzys and your Wippas and stuff like that, they’re all big brother.

Amanda: People tend to think that I do radio in between doing TV projects. It’s the other way around. I say no to most TV so I can do radio because people underestimate the creative power of radio, and how hard it is to do and how fabulous it is when you do it and how I will miss this every day when we stop.

You’ll open the paper and there’ll be this stupid story or something you’ve got an opinion on. Your only filter is your self-filter, and often that lets us down. It’s us and the microphone and that’s it. Television doesn’t give you the freedom of having no filter. I can’t think of any other job that is so freeing and yet so hard. It’s hugely addictive.

Jonesy: When they employed me to work here at WS, I thought I sold my soul to the devil. I loved Triple M. All my life, all I ever wanted to do was work at Triple M, I’ve got a soft spot for it even now.

When they rang me here I said ‘look I don’t want to work for you guys. You guys are terrible. Your station’s terrible, it’s old, I hate your music. I hate Clear Channel.

I mean, in 2002, Triple M was smashing this place. That last year at Triple M was one of it’s most successful years, and then it crashed… because I left.

radioinfo: Is that right?

Jonesy: No!!! It didn’t crash because I left, it crashed because they got rid of Club Veg. They just went and put an axe through the place. I was doing mornings, afternoons and drive. But they got rid of  Club Veg and they put me on as the drive guy. I was only there for about two or three weeks and then this job came up and they actually offered me quite a lot more money than I was getting at Austereo.

radioinfo: How did they take your resignation?

Jonesy: They all got a little bit hostile, “man what are you talking to ARN for?” And I said, ‘mate they rang me, I cant help it if they want me to work for them.’

Then one day Guy Dobson called me into his office and he sort of sat there and put his feet up on the desk in typical Dobbo style and said, “ah, you know, I’m going to let you have your contract, because we can’t offer you what WS is offering you.”

radioinfo: And when you got to WS?

Jonesy: I didn’t like the station. I didn’t like anything. I didn’t like North Ryde. The building didn’t feel like a radio station, it felt like there was no one here. I thought, my god, when my contract runs out here, I’m going to be out of a job – I sold my soul to the devil. But now I look at it as the smartest move I ever made.

radioinfo: Apart from the money, was there any other reason you left Triple M?

Jonesy: I remember having a giant argument with Guy when they put that Jamie Rowe on the breakfast show at  Triple M to work with Amanda and Mikey Robins and I said, ‘I thought that would be me,’ because when I filled in for that week (for Denton), a lot of people said to me when Andrew goes, you’re a shoe-in to be doing breakfast with Amanda.

radioinfo: But you didn’t get the gig?

Jonesy: I think the problem with Austereo at that time was that they didn’t rate their own on air people. You had to be a TV star or something else to actually get through the ranks. I think Kyle Sandilands is the only one that’s managed to work his way up through the ranks as far as that goes.

I remember one year me and Kyle sitting at a table with Brad March. Brad March totally ignored both of us. Then in the space of a year, Marchy’s all over him because he’s got his mug on Australian Idol. It was just amazing the difference within a year that that makes. And I think if we did this show at Triple M, me and Amanda, they would be rating what we are now. And that’s not boastful.

But Triple M is a different animal now. It’s like a sports station and that wouldn’t suit either of us.

radioinfo: How long do you think you’ll keep doing this?

Amanda: Even if we did want to go – and we don’t, we both love this – we’re contracted for another two years. I can’t imagine not doing it, though there will come a day when I’ll be asked to go and cut tomatoes in an Italian village for an enormous amount of money.

Jonesy: I’ll be come with you, I’ll be in the background…

Amanda: … being aggressive – how come she gets to hold the knife!?





Peter Saxon