Chrissie Swan isn’t afraid of opening up a can of worms, even if it’s about her radio bosses.When asked about the culture of FM radio, one presenter described her managers as “men over 40 in acid wash jeans and Tintin gelled haircuts who enter a room scrotum-first”.
That was a few years ago, with my source speaking anonymously.
But now, the Radio Today website has convinced the industry’s biggest names, past and present, to spill the beans – on the record.
In a series called The Brutal Truth, heavy-hitters such as Tony Martin, Wendy Harmer, Tom Gleeson and Chrissie Swan tell all about their listeners, ratings and even their bosses.
“In stand-up comedy, a live audience lets you know if you’re funny or not based on their laughter,” says Gold’s Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann. “In radio, a man with tight jeans, cowboy boots and a pony-tail tells you whether or not you’re funny based on the opinions of a focus group that he spoke to in the early ’90s.”
Comic Mikey Robins, a former host on Triple J, Triple M and Vega, makes a similar observation.
“The happiest moment in every comedian’s bloody week: listening to some program director who came from the sales department tell you why you weren’t funny.”
Former Triple M and Mix presenter Tim Smith, however, was simply ordered to perform well.
“We were under huge pressure and mental strain to have fun,” he says, “and that is not a very favourable environment. It was, at times, like being held at gunpoint and told, ‘The [former presenter] who is sadly no longer here failed to sound fun to us, so enjoy yourselves, or else’.”
While television ratings come out every morning, radio ratings are released just eight times a year – making each survey a nerve-racking event.
“With stand-up you know immediately if you’re not doing well [because you] get heckled,” says former Nova presenter Akmal Saleh. “With radio you also get heckled, but it comes every six weeks or so in the shape of ratings. A drop in ratings is the equivalent of about a million people saying all at once, ‘Get off, you’re not funny’.”
Of course, everyone is an expert once the figures come out.
“Strap yourself in for a lot of compromise and pseudo analysis,” says former Mix host Tom Gleeson. “Everyone knows why ratings go up … but only after it happens.”
Given many FM hosts come from stand-up comedy, Radio Today asked them about the similarities between performing in a studio and on stage.
Star’s Craig Annis says: “Both have microphones, both are conversations, both end in tears some days.”
Mix’s Jamie Row says: “Stand-up comics have the best insight; a stand-up audience is the radio audience.
“It’s safe to say this poof has nil in common with Trish, out on her hen’s night, with her 20 mates, getting blind through a straw shaped like a dick. But having performed to a million Trishes over the years, I have a good idea what she’s about. I know her very well and I have a real respect for her.”
Not every stand-up makes a smooth transition to radio, however.
“Nothing chews up material like a radio show,” says former Fox and Triple M presenter Tony Martin. “There’s quite a famous story of a stand-up who, by Wednesday of his first week on breakfast radio, had literally done his entire act.”
“With radio, suddenly you’re working in an office,” Gleeson says. “Everyone has input and you have to be polite to colleagues and pretend you care about their feedback. That’s a tough gig.”
Mix’s Chrissie Swan explains: “If a joke falls flat or isn’t quite ‘worked up’ enough in time, the comedian then plunges into three minutes of acute self-doubt and loathing while Bruno Mars plays.
“Then he has to lift himself out of the mire in time for the next break. And be funny again.”
Nova’s Natalie Locke says: “On air, you’re literally living in the moment; whether it’s reacting to your co-hosts; trying to figure out what they’re saying without saying, ‘What the f— are you on about?’; or reacting to horrific world events without sounding trite. Difficult to do when all you want to do is crack a gag.”
Listeners want to laugh, of course, but they also demand more than an endless series of gags.
“A wise-cracking, one-liner persona won’t get you very far,” says former 2Day FM and ABC host Wendy Harmer. “It’s tiresome for both you and the listeners.
“To a certain extent, there has to be fakery. Your anxieties, self-doubt and narcissistic tendencies aren’t appealing – even though most broadcasters have those traits in spades. So how much do you tell? What do you hold back? Who is it you’re trying to connect with? It’s showmanship and bravado but it’s also something else: conviction, compassion and sincerity.”
Next week, The Brutal Truth series explores meetings, self-doubt and the infamous seven-second delay button.
The series is co-authored by veteran radio executives Brad March and Scott Muller, who now run their own media companies, and New FM host Sarah Levett.
Of the 40-odd people they approached, only two declined to be interviewed.
“Scott and I have long-lasting relationships with these people; we’ve worked with most of them over the years,” March says.
“They trust us enough to be honest in their responses although some are obviously very tongue-in-cheek.”
The opening stage of the National Capital Tour has been thrown into chaos after a traffic mishap forced results from the women’s time trial to be erased.
In an embarrassing gaffe for organisers, a car crash on Friday morning during peak hour prevented race marshalls from taking up their spots on the course and allowed traffic on the road.
The decision to null and void the stage was made after National Road Series leader Katrin Garfoot had cruised to a 46-second victory.
Riders departed from the National Museum carpark from 9.30am, with the 17.2km course taking them out on Lady Denman Drive to Cotter Road and back.
National Capital Tour race director Mick Fay said up to 20 per cent of riders were affected by the traffic going on the road, which forced them to ride in the bicycle lanes.
”There was a vehicle collision which forced some of our marshalls to be not in place at the allotted time, which allowed traffic to get on the road,” Fay said.
”(The riders) were a bit disappointed, but we felt the decision was in the best interests of the race because some riders were impeded by the traffic and it’s not a fair result.
”The technical director of the race made that decision and I’ve decided to support that decision.”
Garfoot was the second-last rider to depart and crossed the line in 23:41.55, ahead of Felicity Wardlaw (24:27.11) and Ruth Corset (24:35.19).
”I didn’t even know about the crash, but I’m a bit disappointed and will just try to concentrate on tomorrow,” Garfoot said.
”I can’t do anything about the result so I just have to run with it.
”Not having the time from today will change the race for me tomorrow, but the best thing for me is to focus on tomorrow and get organised the best I can.”
Marshalls were in place for the men’s time trial to proceed as planned at 1pm.
Two hundred of Australia’s leading riders, 150 men and 50 women, have converged on Canberra for the three-day event.
Saturday’s marquee 120km road race had already been changed because of a rock fall on Corin Road.
The challenging stage, with several difficult hill climbs, has been extended by 12km and will now finish at Namadgi National Park.
”I’m looking forward to it because I like the hills,” Garfoot said.
”It should make it very interesting.”NormalfalsefalseEN-AUX-NONEX-NONEThe opening stage of the National Capital Tour has been thrown into chaos after a traffic mishap forced results from the women’s time trial to be erased.In an embarrassing gaffe for organisers, a car crash on Friday morning during peak hour prevented race marshalls from taking up their spots on the course and allowed traffic on the road.The decision to null and void the stage was made after National Road Series leader Katrin Garfoot had cruised to a 46-second victory.Riders departed from the National Museum carpark from 9.30am, the 17.2km course taking them out on Lady Denman Drive to Cotter Road and back.National Capital Tour race director Mick Fay said up to 20 per cent of riders were affected by the traffic going on the road, which forced them to ride in the bicycle lanes.‘‘There was a vehicle collision which forced some of our marshalls to be not in place at the allotted time, which allowed traffic to get on the road,’’ Fay said.‘‘(The riders) were a bit disappointed, but we felt the decision was in the best interests of the race because some riders were impeded by the traffic and it’s not a fair result.‘‘The technical director of the race made that decision and I’ve decided to support that decision.’’Garfoot was the second-last rider to depart and crossed the line in 23:41.55, ahead of Felicity Wardlaw (24:27.11) and Ruth Corset (24:35.19).‘‘I didn’t even know about the crash, but I’m a bit disappointed and will just try to concentrate on tomorrow,’’ Garfoot said.‘‘I can’t do anything about the result so I just have to run with it.‘‘Not having the time from today will change the race for me tomorrow, but the best thing for me is to focus on tomorrow and get organised the best I can.’’Marshalls were in place for the men’s time trial to proceed as planned at 1pm.Two-hundred of Australia’s leading riders, 150 men and 50 women, have converged on Canberra for the three-day event.Saturday’s marquee 120km road race had already been changed because of a rock fall on Corin Road.The challenging stage, with several difficult hill climbs, has been extended by 12km and will now finish at Namadgi National Park.‘‘I’m looking forward to it because I like the hills,’’ Garfoot said.‘‘It should make it very interesting.’’
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A man police say is the ringleader of Australia’s involvement in a global match-fixing syndicate has made “veiled threats” against some of his co-accused, a court has heard.
Police allege Segaran “Gerry” Gsubramaniam, 45, is the liaison between the Victorian Premier League soccer team the Southern Stars and the match-fixing syndicate, in a sting that has earned more than $2 million in betting winnings.
Police allege the results of five of the club’s matches between July 21 and last Friday were fixed and that Mr Gsubramaniam had instructed the team of the scores wanted by match fixers in Hungary and Malaysia.
Mr Gsubramaniam, four of the team’s players and its coach, have all been charged under Victoria’s new laws on match fixing.
Mr Gsubramaniam, a Malaysian national, is fighting to be granted bail like his co-accused, but police are opposed over concerns he has access to money and criminal associates and will flee Australia. He was remanded on Friday to continue his bail application on Tuesday.
The Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday heard charged player Reiss Noel and a teammate feared Mr Gsubramaniam and had resorted to securing their hotel door with a chair.
Detective acting Senior Sergeant Scott Poynder told the court “two players are currently securing their doors because they fear Mr Gsubramaniam will arrange people to come and visit them”.
“Some of those [interviewed] have expressed his making veiled threats to them against co-operating,” he said.
Defence counsel Michael Gleeson said the evidence over the threats was questionable.
The court heard Mr Gsubramaniam had received transactions of $230,000 since June, and that police were analysing four bank accounts he had in Australia, and possibly more overseas.
Telephone intercepts also overheard him talking about the players he wanted to play in Australia.
The four players charged – Mr Noel, 23, Joe Woolley, 23, David Obaze, 23, and Nicholas McKoy, 27 – are all British nationals and have surrendered passports to police. The club’s Australian coach, Zia Younan, 36, could not find his passport but would surrender it once he found it, the court heard.
Detective Senior Constable Tracey Van Den Heuvel, who interviewed Mr Gsubramaniam last Sunday, told the court he had said he was only a small player in the syndicate.
“He said he was just a small fry in all of this,” she said.
But prosecutor Peter Rose, SC, said police considered Mr Gsubramaniam “high on the totem pole” of their investigation and feared he was a flight risk who had inquired about obtaining a false passport.
Mr Gleeson said evidence about a fake passport was also questionable, and said his client had no prior convictions, had surrendered his Malaysian passport to police and was entitled to bail like his co-accused.
Mr Gleeson said the accused man also faced a long wait in custody as the investigation would “take a substantial period of time for the police to resolve the charges”.
The court heard the investigation had now spread to other soccer clubs in Victoria, Queensland and overseas, and more arrests were possible.
Mr Gsubramaniam’s sister, Paramsary, told the court she and her siblings had raised $30,000 to pay for the surety if bail was granted, which included money she and her husband had saved for their son’s education.
The court heard accommodation had also been arranged through a family friend, but deputy chief magistrate Jelena Popovic ruled the location and person offering accommodation needed investigation. Ms Popovic ruled that the bail application continue on Tuesday.
Mr Gsubramaniam and Mr Younan both face 10 charges, five counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome and five counts of facilitating conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.
The players all face eight charges apiece, four of each offence.
Under their bail conditions, the coach and players must report three times a week to police and cannot attend soccer matches sanctioned by Football Federation Australia.
The six men are all scheduled to appear again in court on December 6.
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A nurse who helped a schizophrenic patient flee her abusive husband and then started a sexual relationship with her has been disqualified from Australia’s health workers’ register for two years.
Mark Jackson was working at Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Mental Health Service, south of Perth, in 2010 when he began the relationship with his patient, ‘Ms L’, who had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia since 2006.
A State Administrative Tribunal ruling revealed Jackson was appointed as the woman’s case manager in early 2010 after she was hospitalised following a psychotic episode that brought on several suicide attempts.
Later that year, after Ms L had revealed she was in a marriage of “sexual, psychological and at times physical abuse”, Jackson arranged transport for her and her daughter to move to crisis accommodation.
He then entered a residential lease with her, paid a rental bond and four weeks rent, and bought furniture.
The relationship then became sexual.
In a letter to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency later that year, Jackson admitted “the relationship boundaries rapidly became blurred”.
“I did have a consentual [sic] sexual relationship with the patient. This is unacceptable from a professional and moral standpoint,” he wrote.
Jackson said while he was trying to help the patient, his behaviour was “totally out of character”, saying he was suffering a deep depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time as a result of his work as a mental health nurse.
Judge David Parry, deputy president of the SAT, said in a judgment that Jackson was clearly guilty of professional misconduct as alleged by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
He was disqualified from applying for registration as a registered health practitioner until 2015, and ordered to pay $2069 in costs.
Jackson resigned as a nurse in April 2011, surrendered his registration, and told the SAT he does not intend to resume his nursing career.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Nurse who helped patient flee abusive husband then started sexual relationship with her banned for two years.