What you may have missed in Kyle and Jackie O’s Melbourne radio debut

Last week’s multimedia coverage of Kyle and Jackie O‘s launch on Melbourne’s KIIS 101.1, where all the (FM) stations were talking about each other, on air, was a little like buying the cheats guide to Macbeth just before your exam hoping it will give you the ‘right’ insight into how to review it. That is why K&J asking Melbourne to make their own minds up was such a smart tactical move.

Two weeks ago Arj Barker asked a mum and her bub to leave a show he was doing at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I’m not going to rehash the story that went massively viral except to say that SCA stations The Fox FM in Melbourne and 2Day FM Sydney breakfast shows fell over themselves to get Arj and the mum Trish Faranda on air together in the aftermath. Radio, especially talk radio, has always felt a medium that guides you towards a better understanding of a situation and how you feel about it. Those two interviews that morning felt dangerously like they’d made their mind up for us based on what they thought public reaction would be.

Almost every single station across Australia, in the 48 hours after the incident, had some sort of commentary on the matter, except Kyle and Jackie O. There is likely two reasons for this. The one that first springs to mind is that SCA sought and contributed something toward exclusive access to Arj and Trish. The second is that Kyle and Jackie O, a week out from heading into the Melbourne hotseats, saw the tide turning toward Arj and made a conscious decision to steer clear.

I saw a comment on social media saying they really glad that people following the Arj story felt like they did. That, as much as they respected a mum’s need for a night out, 15+ means no little ones should be in attendance, and while they didn’t condone the foul tirade that Trish received from some of the audience as she exited, they too would have been pretty unhappy if their show experience had been destroyed by a chatty audience member, albeit a baby. All points that Arj articulately made.

The general population made up its own mind and their consensus was contrary to the initial stand point of radio and television.

We then move on to Steve Price’s anti Kyle rant on Network 10’s the Project. Price does not mention Jackie O. It really would have been shocking if he’d directed these bullying words towards her. The outcome for me is that I felt that Price was giving the “I only listened to five minutes” overview of Kyle and Jackie O and fed further into the next day marketing campaign asking Melbournians to make up their own minds.

The Fox’s Fifi, Fev and Nick brought out a really fun campaign last week about being the place for Melbourne’s biggest party. They’ve also been hosting Brekky in the Burbs where they head out to Melbourne locations bringing a celeb singer with them. Brendan Fevola has been beating the drum for their local focus being the point of difference between them and Kyle and Jackie O. Jase and Lauren over at Nova 100 have been heading down that direction too. It’s a good and valuable point but I wouldn’t listen to brekky in the burbs as it isn’t relevant to me whether Amy Shark is there or not. It’s also feeding right into Kyle and Jackie O’s hands who have spent the last decade creating content that transcends local. That’s why they’re now in Melbourne!

Kyle stated that he really doesn’t care for AFL (in much more Kyle language). In doing so he’s created for KIIS a space where if an AFL player comes in for an interview it will mean that whatever they’re there to say will have to be bigger than the city. It’s the opposite to Gold 10.3’s Christian O’Connell‘s invitation, when he arrived from the UK, to have Melbourne help him pick his team. Both methods work, in totally different ways.

On their first day in Melbourne Jackie O went into more intimate detail about herself than I’ve ever heard from her. The show’s first intro was very deliberately risque and sort of what I was expecting, but Jackie O’s conversation genuinely surprised me. Now, week two, I’ve realised that the first day and its content was making a point to all those who have and will only ever listen to the five or ten naughty minutes of Kyle and Jackie O and assumed they they’ve read the book.

You haven’t. It’s just page 1.

And the invitation to make up your own mind captures something of the feeling of the nation right now. Not just in Melbourne.

Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor and podcaster for Radioinfo.

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