Dec 9, 2021 • 48M

Media Unmade - Chapter seven: Dead Air

How Hamish & Andy took the Today Network to new highs, before the Royal prank call suicide became the Australian radio's industry's darkest moment

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Tim Burrowes
Insights into the media and marketing industry from an Australian perspective, from the founder of Mumbrella and the author of the best selling book Media Unmade, Tim Burrowes
Episode details

Welcome to the latest edition of the Unmade podcast. Today’s edition features another free extract from the audio edition of my book, Media Unmade, which is published by Hardie Grant and available online and in book stores.

In this final chapter of Act 1, we explore the Australian radio industry at the first half of the previous decade. It was a time when Austereo’s two networks, Triple M and the Today network were dominant. Hamish Blake and Andy Lee’s national drivetime show had become a once-in-a-generation phenomenon and Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson’s new pairing was starting to hit its stride, first with the Hot 30, then with Sydney breakfast.

But the takeover of Austereo by Southern Cross Media signalled a change of culture. As Kyle Sandilands later described it, the company went from the handshakes and cowboy boots of the Kirby family, to the corporate outlook of accountant Rhys Holleran.

Rhys Holleran faces the media | Pic: Getty Images

And Australian radio kept being hit with controversies. That included Kyle & Jackie O’s infamous lie detector segment in which a teenage girl was quizzed about her sexual assault, and then Sandiland’s “piece of shit” on air attack on a female journalist. Over at 2GB, Alan Jones was beginning to experience the growing power of social media to create advertiser boycotts.

And then, disastrously, came the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, over what should have been a harmless on-air prank from the inexperienced new hosts of the Hot 30, Michael ‘MC’ Christian and Mel Greig.

Greig attended the inquest | Pic: Getty Images

The duo ended up as the face of the tragedy, while those who took the management decisions to air the segment stayed behind the scenes.

Today’s chapter is free to all subscribers. Some future chapters will only be available only to paying subscribers to Unmade. For the next seven days, I’m offering a major discount on a year’s subscription, which is available via the button below. That price will not be repeated.

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Audio production on Media Unmade comes courtesy of Abe’s Audio, the people to talk to about voiceovers, corporate videos and commercials.

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Have a great Friday.


Tim Burrowes

Proprietor - Unmade