Are they complete morons? Have they had an empathy bypass? Are they morally bankrupt? It’s so disrespectful to the family! This is “corporate cowboy” thinking. Why the hell would they do it? WTF?

This is the feedback I’m getting from my radio insiders today about the decision by Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) to give Michael Christian their national radio award as Next Top Jock.


You will remember, of course, from December that Christian was one half of the radio team who made THAT prank phone call to inquire after the health of the Duchess of Cambridge and her hospitalization for acute morning sickness.

It was followed by the suicide of the British nurse, Jacintha Saldana, (46, mother of two).

Only weeks ago the content of Saldana’s suicide note was made public and in her handwritten note, addressed to her managers at the Edward VII hospital, she said: “Please accept my apologies. I am truly sorry. Thank you for all your support.

“I hold the Radio Australians Mel Greig and Michael Christian responsible for this act. Please make them pay my mortgage. I am sorry. Jacintha.”

That was April, now it’s June and whatever you think of the ethics of the call and its subsequent tragic outcome – and you’ll remember plenty of people (me included) had plenty to say – the decision to award Christian anything shows how out of touch with public mores the management of Southern Cross Austereo truly is.

It has now confirmed them as having a tin ear for common decency. That’s how I’d call this latest effort. Many radio people feel the same. Today they are bewildered and embarrassed.

Even on a corporate level, “it’s stupid” said one of my contacts. “Why would you inflame an issue that’s been so damaging?”

I lay the blame directly at the feet of SCA Chairman Rhys Holleran. I’d also say “come on down”, Guy Dobson – chief content officer for the network.

Here’s a classic “boy’s own” corporate structure that just Does. Not. Get. It. 

“…regardless of all that’s happened in the past few months I’m still at the top of my game,” said Christian. “So it felt good to see my name at the top of the final leaderboard.”

Apparently Christian was to be flown to L.A. as part of his prize as “best in the land”.


vinatge-radioSouthern Cross Auststereo management “out of touch”? Photo via CubaGallery on Flickr.

I’ve never laid the blame on Christian and his offsider, Mel Greig. Instead I have always asked “where’s the leadership?”

What a slap in the face for Saldana’s family. What an appalling message to send to staff. Did they mean to say: “Get your face out there. Do anything. Whatever it takes.” Because that’s how this is being read. And to say “it’s not a good look” is a wild understatement.

Would more women in this bastion of the boy’s club that’s radio in Australia have made a difference? 

Hmmmm… Let me think about that…

In my contribution to the “Destroy The Joint” book, I lamented the lack of women in management in radio, let alone leading voices on air.

I was lucky to have as a mentor the brilliant Brad March in the 11 years I was on air for Austereo at 2Day FM. He’s the one who also made Tracy Bartram Queen of Breakfast at Fox FM in Melbourne. He championed the career of Jane Kennedy. He also appointed women to general manager positions in four out of six metro FM outfits… his contribution has now been utterly trashed.

By way of contrast – let’s look at the corporate structure of DMG radio. (They’re the ones who bring us strong females: Kate Langbroek, Meshel Laurie et al.)

Three of DMG’s key roles are taken by women: CEO, Cath O’Connor; board member and executive director, the brilliant Siobhan McKenna and group general manager, Louise Higgins.

 There are no women in the higher echelons of SCA.

As for ARN- who bring us Amanda Keller Chrissie Swan, Yumi Styes and Brigitte Duclos? Here’s a network that is, at least, listening. Female duos on air are bringing in an audience. They know it makes sense to make shows that appeal to more than half of the population and the advertisers they bring.

Then there’s Southern Cross  Austereo.

“There’s a cowboy mentality there.”

How long till they get with the program?




Radio Prank Calls: There Are Rules

Lucky for Kyle, It’s a Man’s World

Shock Jocks: How Low Will They Go?

And Now From the FM Boys (Club)

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  • Reply June 5, 2013


    I think this Tommie meme sums it up….


    • Reply June 5, 2013


      Except that it extremely uncool and offensive to use a term for people with disabilities as an insult.

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    If he has a conscience, he’d decline the award. Hey Wendy, Adam Spencer is leaving the ABC – what are you and Ange up to????

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Alice Shaw

    So the male DJ gets a big prize from the fellas at work and the female DJ gets what? Pushed out? Ignored?

    I don’t think for a second either of these people is responsible for the nurse’s death. It was a tragedy but there was more to it, the prank being the final straw.

    I agree with Janice, any moral fibre at all and this young bloke would refuse the prize, or perhaps donate his winnings to the family.

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Lisa Lintern

    This is wrong on so many levels. Totally appalling. How must her family feel now? Clearly the decision makers in Southern Cross Austereo couldn’t care less. I’m so sad and angry for her family.

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    It’s hard to see how anyone other than psychopaths could think this is a good idea. I felt for this young guy after the suicide but now? He looks just as much a dick as his bosses.

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    A total disgrace, what could we do to get the idea across that this is unacceptable?
    Who could we email, any ideas?

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Nel Matheson

    Wendy, my solution is simple. Never listen to them. The only thing that matters to the hierarchy is ratings, and although I am only one old fart, maybe there are enough old farts to show them that ignoring ethical practice doesn’t work. Maybe.

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Julia B

    Thoroughly enjoyed the Morning Crew for all those years. Miss you, Wendy, wish you would come back to morning radio and make it worth listening to again. Can’t say a great deal for drive time either…

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    Greig and Christian were not responsible for the suicide of Jacintha Saldana, but indirectly, they contributed to it. This is no more than a grab for sympathy votes, a distateful PR stunt. It is incredulous how the network could even contemplate this young man being ‘the next big thing’ in radio. Hearing Mr Christian respond…nothing short of staggering!

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    Jock? Who is the horse being ridden?

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    Meanwhile, if Jacintha Saldana’s suicide note is reported correctly~ I find it a nasty piece of work. If you are going to go to the effort of suicide and a note~ make it totally your own work.

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    I’m less shocked that they rewarded him than I am shocked that they rewarded him and *punished* her!!

    They’re not even trying to judge men and women by the same standard. Whatever a bloke does is fine but a woman must be above reproach.

  • Reply June 5, 2013


    I want to go back to my earlier point. If you are going to kill yourself, don’t pull other people in with you.

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Will Marshall

    Come back to radioland, Wendy! preferably the ABC or RRR!

    • Reply June 6, 2013

      Wendy Harmer

      Angela Catterns and I will be on ABC 702 on brekkie again over Christmas – it’s becoming something of a tradition for The Early Girlies. Looking forward to it.

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    How insenstive can Austereo get?

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    And don’t Austereo just love the publicity they get through creating this type of ongoing outrage. Yes they’ve had an empathy bypass, yes they are disgusting heartless fools. So what do we do- go after their advertisers again?

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    no conscience ,must be proud of the award .

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    The insensitivity and arrogance beggars belief.
    Turn the dial, go on the company’s facebook, share with your friends. Let’s show them what we think, and perhaps they’ll get over the notion that all publicity is good publicity.

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    Fantastic news Wendy. It’s not just you!

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    The state of commercial radio in Australia today is appalling. Anyone who willingly listens to hours of mindless drivel accompanied by cookie cutter music deserves what they get. Vote with your feet (or your dial) people – just turn that rubbish off.

    • Reply June 6, 2013


      My fear is that if Abbott gets in we’ll have One Nation rearing its WTF ugly head again!

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    its just wrong wrong wrong. firstly – why was he nominated? secondly, if he’s the ‘best in the land’ – how’s that working for him?

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    When I read this story in yesterday’s SMH I thought 2 things, the first was why does he get the award and she (Mel) gets shafted – okay I know really, no answer required – second thought was ooh Wendy will have a right go at this one!!

    Thanks for not proving me wrong, and for saying what so badly needed to be said.

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    Michael should definitely decline the award as a mark of respect to the Saldana family. The top dog of SCA should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen. Bloody moron !!!

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    Look i agree it was not MC’s faulty or MEL’s but i do agree that sca need to rethink what they are doing also Mel has not gone back to work because of her own personal choice she has not been fired or punished by SCA also i do think MC is good at his job maybe it was just bad timing to give him this award

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    I assume this horse is being ridden by advertising dollars. It would be a blow to anyone to have their names mentioned in a suicide note or as a jock. I have gone quite cold about this nurse after reading her suicide note but I assume industry is lauding advertising $$ not for talent but bad yet profitable commercial taste. Yuk.

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    Neroli? Are you our Croydon-former-South-family-house Neroli?

  • Reply June 6, 2013


    How low can they go? Really WTF? What hope do we have when various stations are run by lunatics! It is very sad indeed.

  • Reply June 7, 2013


    This is deeply BAD but that M.C makes me want to slap several other people.

  • Reply June 8, 2013


    Shameless in their disrespect.

  • Reply June 10, 2013


    I may be blunt in my comments on this subject~ I have not had an empathy bypass. Quite the contrary~ indeed overwhelmed from real life sometimes. Heard suicide stories. I feel for the nurse’s family, especially her kids, who now have this strange filter they have to make meaning from. What she did is not fair to her kids.
    On top of this, for some others to make money from such a tragedy, is deeply wrong.

  • […] Radio’s Next Top Jock. WTF?! […]

  • Reply July 24, 2013

    Lady M

    Great article. I would just add, Kyle Sandilands and Howard Sattler are punished for offensive and inappropriate remarks, yet this guy makes a big mistake which contributes to a woman committing suicide and he wins an award???? Yes -WTF?! Christian should have politely declined the award after what happened and out of respect for the woman that committed suicide, her family, friends and colleagues.

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