Ugly Phil Returns to Radio in the Rubber Room

Phil O’Neil better known to most as “Ugly Phil” is one of Australia’s most resilient broadcasters which makes him one of the most successful too.
“When I am on the air I still treat it as the last shift I am ever going to do because most of the time it is!” says Phil.
 His early years were spent hosting the popular Hot 30 Countdown with his former wife Jackie O before he was snapped up by Nova 969.
In 2003 Phil returned to the Austereo stable and after a stint overseas came back to Australia and the Triple M Network, which is set to re-launch the old Triple M Rubber Room night show with Phil as host.
The Triple M Rubber Room was last on air in the late 90’s, hosted by the late John Kennedy, at the time Phil was hosting the Hot 30 and subsequently in direct competition.
“…so this makes me in direct competition with myself. I’m hoping to be myself at some stage.”
radioinfo caught up with Ugly Phil to chat about his new role.
Triple M Network Head of Content Mike Fitzpatrick has suggested the show will “wreak havoc on audiences” – what have you got planned to live up to that suggestion?
“That’s a good question I think he’s speaking a little bit out of turn there. I intend to be conservative and not get us into any trouble.”
Do you think as broadcasters in 2015 there is still room to wreak havoc?
“You have to be clever. It’s a different world now. I spent time in the UK where it was a very different, conservative market… you couldn’t say things like bloody or bugger on the radio and I had just come from the Hot 30, so it was a completely different environment and a completely different way to be creative. Which was interesting because it taught you there are other ways to do things, even shock radio without being completely shocking all the time.
“It was quite easy to shock on the Hot 30, by just doing some kind of sexual innuendo, but when you haven’t got that crutch…”
Yes, both the interviewer and interviewee laughed at this point but managed to act like adults and move forward on the very serious topic of being creative.
“It’s like doing day time radio and you suddenly have to do a ten second break and you’ve been used to talking for two minutes, you think this is going to be a walk in the park…but it’s hard to be creative in ten seconds or less.”
What do you think of the idea of bringing a successful show back – do you think there was a time programmers got ahead of themselves and perhaps should have left things that worked alone to evolve naturally?
“if you’re talking about Guy Dobson, he’s always been ahead of himself so really the rest of the world is catching up with Dobbo (laughs) but I do know what you mean. I think some things are ahead of their time and the Rubber Room definitely was, which means it’s of its time now.
“We’ll just replace the word Telecom with Telstra.”
And trunk call with SMS?
“Yes, that’s right the new fangled things.”
You have been across a few day-parts and talked about challenges, which one is the more challenging?
“Days. It’s a different environment and when I was first asked to do it, I thought I’m going to be bored stupid in ten minutes but then you realise the onus is on you to make it creative or otherwise it will just be beige and no-body wants to do that…so there lies the challenge, how do I do something creative with ten seconds here?
“…and outside of that I have to learn to speak for more then ten seconds at a time again, so you know, I’ll get to the 15 second mark and suddenly say, coming up more music variety….”
You must be really flattered for the network to consider you as host of the Rubber Room?
“Very. But the thing is, after having been around and seeing the down side of radio and being in a situation, usually of my own making… not being the flavor of the month, you realize you have to claw your way back so I never take anything for granted. I certainly don’t take this for granted. I am very, very honored and grateful they’ve given me the opportunity and the trust to be able to do this.”
Triple M will re-launch the old Triple M Rubber Room night show on Monday 12 October in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Kim Napier

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