SHOCK JOCKS: HOW LOW WILL THEY GO?
Cripes! At the risk of sounding like being in the demo for an easy-listening radio station… who took the fun out of the FM breakfast shift?
As a presenter on Sydney’s 2DAY FM “Morning Crew” show with Peter Moon and Paul Holmes for 11 years between 1993-2004, sure we concocted our share of tacky and wacky stunts.
But I can say, hand on heart, that we never, at any time, coerced a member of the team into faking their own death for ratings.
The latest charge against broadcasters Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) comes from Amber Petty (left) – breakfast presenter on SAFM in Adelaide for three years.
She contacted media website Mumbrella and said that when she joined the station in 2007 her death was faked in an on-air prank. Petty says that as a new member of staff, she was pressured into taking part.
She told Mumbrella: “Having worked for SCA, I will say that behind the scenes much of the time it is 100% encouraged to be outrageous and have a sick sense of humour.
“Revolting things are encouraged, and they employ sycophantic people who make dumb mistakes.”
Petty said: “While I was on air, the powers that be decided it would be a good idea to get attention by pretending I had died. So being new on air and feeling the pushiness of ‘don’t carry on about this or you’re not a team player’ I had to leave the studio while an obituary for me was recorded.
“The obituary included our news reader reading out my death news and a sound grab from my brother and father saying how horrendous it was that I’d died, including asking my dad to say: ‘It’s obviously always sad when a parent loses a child’.”
She says her father was pressured into it by her on-air co-host.
How deplorable to exploit both her and her family who wanted her to have a successful career in radio! A career that has so much to offer to women.
No wonder she’s still angry.
Petty says she was prompted to go public after the sacking of Kyle and Jackie O producer, Bruno Bouchet, who was fired this week after making jokes on Twitter about the cinema shootings in Colorado. (Not the first time he’s been in trouble after publicity about his “Bruno Loves Boobs” pornographic website.)
Look, I could go on about the misdemeanours of that particular breakfast show… but I’ve already done so. (See related articles, next page.)
Instead, it might be worth looking back at what passed for fun back in the olden days and some of the stunts I can recall from my time in breakfast radio.
Tacky? Sure. Dishonest? Sometimes. Degrading? Depends if you like cockroaches.
CRUNCH A COCKIE
Yep! Win State of Origin Tickets by eating a live cockroach. Look, these weren’t ordinary cockies. They were those Queensland giant burrowing cockroaches (Macropanesthia rhinoceros). Big, juicy ones. And they had been lovingly, hand-reared on peanut butter for a week before the stunt. All the listener had to do was eat one, live on air, for the best tickets going. There were plenty of takers. The one “lucky” listener chosen bit into the thing and years later I can still recall the sickening “crunch”.
NB: And before any complaints from animal-rights campaigners, I ended up taking the other two cockies home and kept them as pets for years. Everyone who saw them said: “Gross. KILL THEM.”
LIVE IN IT AND WIN!
Cute idea from a rival brekkie show. Put a group of people in a 4WD in the middle of a shopping centre and the last one to vacate it wins the vehicle. More than a month later, there were two holdouts who would not Get. Out. Of. The. Car. (The segment was well on the nose by this time.) After complaints from shopping centre management that the car was stinking up the joint, producers quietly found two cars and sent them on their way.
DASH FOR CASH
This one was simple, but stoopid. We pinned bank notes all over the clothes of our on-street reporter, gave him a head start and listeners were urged to chase him down a suburban mall and grab the cash. Unfortunately, the listeners (who could have all qualified for the Olympics) overtook him in about three seconds, ripped his clothes and left him dazed and incoherent. I ran into him last week. He’s still traumatised and reckons it was the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to him.
NB: Alliteration is important ( And rhyming. See in comments below). See also “Whirl till you Hurl” where listeners to a Gold Coast FM show were encouraged to stay on a roller coaster till they threw up.
GRAB A MILLION DOLLARS!!!
There was the official management line: “Make every listener a winner.” The unofficial one: “Never give a sucker an even break.” And from the on-air talent: “Let’s see how much stuff we can give away before everyone goes broke.”
You’ve probably seen radio contests that put a million bucks up for grabs – in bags, buried in sand, in wind tunnels – while punters are equipped with golden shovels and butterfly nets. Earlier this year Isabella from Ryde did win that $1,000,000 on the Kyle and Jackie O Show’s “Dawn Dig” (loving that alliteration) when she dug up the bag with the Golden Ticket on Bondi Beach.
I’m told the odds are probably in the range of one in 8,000 to get the lot in these kinds of stunts… better than the one in 50 million for Lotto, and so, insurable. It usually costs stations around $40,000.
NB: When the challenge is to shovel as much actual cash as you can in 60 seconds, the trick from the promotions department is to bulk up the bounty with coins, while the big notes fly off in the breeze. This can lower the take from a mill to around $20,000.
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