And then there were none

Staff Writer

Wendy Harmer has written this piece at The Hoopla today which we have shamelessly lifted in its entirety (with permission of course!)

Farewell Amanda Blair. We’ll miss you.

Yesterday she quit her gig as Australia’s only woman in commercial talkback AM metro radio. Just so you get that straight, there is now NOT ONE woman with her own shift on commercial radio in any of our nation’s cities. It’s coast-to-coast blokes (mostly white, mostly over 45, mostly right-wing), talking politics and trying to sell you security doors and superannuation on the AM dial.

The resignation of Amanda Blair comes just a week after I appeared on her afternoon show on FIVEaa Adelaide. I  had written about the lack of women in radio here at The Hoopla and after reading it, Amanda invited me on her program to swap tales of the demeaning rubbish that is handed out to women in the commercial radio industry.

She was her usual frank and feisty self and many said she was “brave” to have spoken up. Many women backed my critical comments, like one of my favourite gals, former editor of the Women’s Weekly, Deborah Thomas who had a disappointing experience working at Sydney’s 2GB and Tweeted : “According to radio execs ‘women don’t work on radio’. Maybe because they don’t give them a go or support. Unfounded nonsense.”

Among many supportive emails was this one:

“As an ex *** staffer, I heard every excuse in the book.  I was allowed to present a current affairs program and the news but that was it.
We were told that men lose the upper register of their hearing as they age and they can’t hear women or children (handy that).
 We were told that women don’t like listening to other women. The thing is that I’d love to learn how to be on air now. I get nervous about it and then I think about all the idiots who are on the air and I know I could do better. I think the only way to get ‘in’ now is to just do my own podcasts and try it that way.”

My post on the Hoopla drew a response from former FM radio producer Scott Muller "It’s even worse in FM radio" he said.

Then our friends at Crikey took up the tale… and Amanda was clearly over it. She told the truth.

“I’m on a number of government and industry boards and I kind of feel like I am living two lives,” said Blair. “I have a normal life where things are regulated and where people say decent things to each other and people are rewarded for being intelligent. And then I flip into radio world where sometimes you feel like you’ve got to play the role of Francis Farmer post lobotomy to survive.”

She also told Crikey:

“I’m quoting this verbatim, because I’ve told it at a million dinner parties” — where she asked someone in senior management (who no longer works at FiveAA) what they thought of her show: “And they said ‘yeah, it’s OK, but sometimes it’s a bit girly’. At that point my eyes actually rolled back into my head. 

And I said ‘I’m just wondering if you tell the men that their shows are OK but sometimes they’re a bit blokey? Considering I’m the only female, is that a bad thing?’ He sort of went ‘oh, oh …’

“I said ‘why do you think it’s a bit girly?’. And he said ‘cause you talk about cooking sometimes’. And I said ‘what do you mean?’. And he said ‘well, you were talking aboutMasterChef today’. And I said ‘yeah, that’s cause it’s the highest-rating television show of all time’.
“And I said ‘right, what else?’. And he said ‘well, you were talking about mushrooms’. And I went ‘yeah, with one of the clients who’s the Mushroom Board, and that’s a bloke I was talking to’.

“And he went ‘yeah, and a little bit further on you were talking about wheat bags’. And I said ‘yes, because there was a press release from the Royal Adelaide Hospital because people are burning themselves on their wheat bags’. And he went ‘well that’s food, so that’s three food things’. I just went ‘right …’.

“I couldn’t say anything to that stupidity … apparently he thinks that you eat wheat bags. And I just couldn’t be fucked telling him that you don’t.

As journalist Amber Jamieson wrote for Crikey: “It seems commercial radio — particularly AM — is the final frontier for feminism in the media, a bastion of old white men who will go to their graves still holding onto their mics and old-school stereotypes"

“I’m just waiting for them to die off,” Susan Mitchell — a former host on Sydney’s 2GB and 2UE, as well as a stint hosting mornings at ABC’s 612 in Brisbane — told Crikey.

And now Amanda is going home.

Here’s the story from Adelaide Now:

“TALKBACK radio star Amanda Blair has quit FiveAA. Blair has hosted the afternoon show between 1pm and 4pm on weekdays for the past five years, but has resigned to spend more time with her four young children. ‘I’ve loved my time at FIVEaa and have really enjoyed the challenge of talkback radio,’ she said in a statement.

“It is with deep sadness that I leave the host’s chair, but I’d rather be looking at my children at 3pm each day than looking at Graham Cornes (no offence Graham!). “Broadcasting will always be my passion and I’m sure I will pop up on FIVEaa from time to time, but for now, it’s important that I fulfil my most important task – to be a mother.”

FIVEaa general manager Sean O’Brien said: “Amanda is a first class broadcaster and we’ll miss her expertise and enthusiasm in the afternoon shift, we understand family comes first and wish her all the best as she spends more quality time as a mum,” he said.’

Enjoy your time with your little ones, Amanda. They are gorgeous.

They’ll love to have you home, but we’ll miss you. And we know you’ll miss radio.

We know your kids need you, but equally, we have to wonder about what Deborah Thomas says. Where’s the support? Where’s the fair go?

One day, Amanda, when radio begins to value your voice, your contribution and your audience, you’ll be back.

We’ll be here, ready to listen.


Wendy Harmer is an author, journalist and editor-in-chief of The Hoopla website.


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