Dan Jones on Marcus Paul’s sacking

Marcus Paul is a good person. I’ve known Marcus for a long time, we both worked against each other and together as radio announcers on radio stations around Australia. After hearing everything that has happened and the comments being made about him, it seems right to share another perspective from the other side of the mic.

I competed against him from a rival radio station in Canberra, he was at Capital Radio Network’s 2CC and I was at SCA and ARN’s now Hit104.7.

Marcus treated me respectfully and warmly regardless of whether we were on the same team, or whether my job was to make sure his show was unsuccessful. If I ever needed advice, he liked something I did on-air, or I was having trouble he was always too happy to be there. I say too happy because this was regardless of the fact that my job was to make sure that his listeners became my listeners. How you treat your competitors says a lot about you, and it says a lot about Marcus.

Later, we worked together in the WIN Network at i98 in Wollongong, where we got to have a lot more fun. While Marcus also did his own shows, he was also occasionally the newsreader when I was doing shows on i98. I remember it was Australia Day, and I can’t speak for Marcus, but I was hungover and doing the 6AM – Midday show, while Marcus did news and ran the newsroom by himself. It was the second story of his top of hour news bulletin and he played a grab from Barnaby Joyce’s reaction to a question about the Invasion Day protests.

Barnaby said something along the lines of, “This is Australia Day and if you don’t like it, I don’t know mate, go to work, do something else.” I burst out laughing because of how ridiculous I found Barnaby’s statement and tone. My mic was off but Marcus saw me laughing from the adjacent news booth, which set him off, and he also started laughing. Since my mic was off, the context to the listeners would’ve sounded odd so Marcus had no choice but to point out on-air that he was laughing because I was laughing, which completely derailed the news bulletin. I turned my mic on and we shared a laugh and a few comments. Then, in true professional fashion Marcus continued the bulletin unfettered. He commented to me after that we would probably get in some trouble, thankfully being Australia Day I was fairly confident anybody with an issue was sleeping in, or also found it hilarious. I never heard anything more about it.

I was saddened to hear about what had happened with Marcus. The person that I know is not one that makes light of issues like the death of children. It is clear to me that it was never his intent to do so. I would like to think that anybody looking past clickbait headlines can clearly see that his question about Charlise Mutton’s school, while unwise, was never done with any intent of malice, indifference, or ill intent.

Here are some things that I do know precipitated this incident. I believe that these factors made a controversy surrounding Marcus inevitable, a time bomb that would eventually threaten his career and livelihood.

Marcus’ show goes to over a dozen radio stations, he has one producer. In contrast, producer numbers are often in double figures for shows like 2GB’s Breakfast, Kyle and Jackie O, and with at least three-four times as many producers as Marcus in most comparable network breakfast shows that pipe in or out of metro markets like Sydney; even night shows have more producers.

Marcus did in that time slot what others did not, and that was to truly seek to compete against the major players. In the defence of his predecessors, how could they? It would’ve meant untold hours of unpaid overtime and work constantly filling the void of the infrastructure and support that comes with an army of producers. Have you ever had a look at Marcus’ graphics that he makes for his breakfast show? They’re terrible. It’s because he made them himself. What I love about them is that it shows how much he’s putting into this, doing everything he can to make it work. Rather than complain about the difference in resources, he got on with it and did his best.

Imagine for a moment that you’re years into this. Getting up at 3 in the morning to head into a gig where you’re doing the role of several people, and competing against others that every single day put out a more polished product by virtue of their army behind them. Now, imagine that you hear rumours of people listening to your show to find content to complain about. Up until now you’ve managed to fend them off. Each day you’ve walked the line of ensuring that in all the content you produce there’s nothing they’ve been able to get you for, that they’ve been able to pin on you, despite the enormous amount of content every day that they’re able to scrutinise.

One day you’re presented with a segment you’ve done countless times. A brief quiz based on the headlines of the day where five quick trivia questions are read. It is a relatively unimportant segment in the context of the show, but one that fills a bit of time and helps listeners get their brain moving over their morning coffee or drive to work. One question is about which primary school Charlise Mutton attended. You make a mistake, in the rush of the breakfast show you don’t adequately reflect on the implications of this question and read it out.

The people that are targeting your show hear this and spring into action, beginning their campaign to ensure this does not go unnoticed. Upon realising what has happened and reflecting, you the next day, apologise profusely, own the mistake and take full responsibility for it. The media is unrelenting, some of those that support you turn their backs on you, and ultimately you get fired.

If I were in Marcus’ position, I would be wishing that those around me could see how this situation came about. The efforts and magnitude of prep and work that has gone into doing a difficult gig that he put his all into. I would be wishing that people knew that when you try your best and you are doing the job of several people, and there are those looking for opportunities to destroy you, that you can only win for so long. As is the case in Australian media and especially radio, if people are able to look at 3-4 hours a day of you talking to look for something to discredit you, then eventually they will find something you did incorrectly.

I do not condone or excuse what was said. Yet, there is context to this situation and circumstances around it that are relevant and should be considered. Having been in a position where people are running campaigns to get you fired myself, it strikes me that all anyone could find against Marcus after so long on-air was a flippant comment said without malice or ill intent. For me, I think that says a lot about Marcus, it speaks to the good person that I’m glad to know.


Dan Jones

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Recent comments (21)
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8 Feb 2022 - 6:03 pm

Dan, I’m glad that this has been posted on RT because you’re absolutely right.

Well said.

Ken Rasmussen
8 Feb 2022 - 9:06 pm

Very well spoken. I have never met you or Marcus but have tuned in every so often. After many years of landline Radio School at 3SA St Kilda, in the 60’s, where we were were trained by the late wonderful Clarke Sinclair who was 90% blind, we learnt all facets of Radio and many former country station announcers could attest to early morning and late night one man show with total station responsibility, no back up, having to sell advertising and then write your own copy, represent the station publicly, hours and hours of unpaid work because of our enthusiasm and live off the media on a measly pittance, boarding with a landlady all alone in a country town and so on. Yet all I read and see these days are highly paid presenters who do not have to fill out and pad a 6 hour shifts, producers ? What ? I was my own producer. Need I go on.
We all have bloopers to our credit, lips sealed…. meanwhile, I wish Marcus all the best and at nearly 80 years of age and long gone from the industry, I can still relate. Sincerely..

Don Moxham
8 Feb 2022 - 11:58 pm

Thanks Dan, I have worked with Marcus, twice. I was at his first wedding. He’s a hard worker, and a good egg. When you are on-air, working so hard, with so little support, it’s VERY easy to lose focus, and forget for a tiny second that stories represent real lives, real people. There was nothing malicious in what Marcus did, yet day after day, I hear broadcasters saying terrible hateful things on-air that are supposed to constitute some form of humour??? Marcus apologised – humbly. As one of my miserable, early radio bosses reminded me “radio broadcasts are not like pencils, you can’t rub-out mistakes”. The guy did not deserve a flogging – and anyone who watches ABC Media Watch knows a similar mistake was made by a broadcaster, about 2 years ago. He should have been left to continue. Talk is a cut and thrust business – fast-moving, mistakes happen.

Anthony The Koala
9 Feb 2022 - 12:32 am

I don’ believe that it was a lack of support staff that included a question about a tragedy.

In 2011, 2GB’s Chris Smith asked a quiz question about how many of the drowned asylum seekers were buried in Australia.

It brought the ire of the prize sponsor. Also a spokesperson from the Refugee Council described the quiz question as a trivialisation of a tragedy.

I would concur with the last statement from the Refugee Council which could also apply to the recent murder of a child.

However, based on the article, 2GB is a well-resourced station and such an unacceptable question on drowned asylum seekers went to air.

So I don’t agree that workplace overload clouded the decision to put a controversial quiz question to air given a broadcaster’s responsibilities to not defame, discriminate or vilify.

Bad taste to not air bad content may not be regulated but would be an inherent quality of a broadcaster.

What I do see between is an INCONSISTENCY in employment policy: 2GB kept the presenter while 2SM dismissed its presenter.

Marcus put his heart and soul with no external resources and combined his talents to interview politicians from diverse parties as well as segments from Friendly Jordies.

At worst Marcus could have been suspended from broadcasting for an extra two weeks then resume his on air duties with a remorseful apology on return to air.

During the suspension time, the controversy would have died down. Remember controversial news has a lifespan and does not persist forever.

For 2SM to dismiss Marcus when other presenters who made controversial statements and were kept is knee jerk and is also ungrateful for Marcus putting his heart and soul put into a station that did not provide resources to put into a program.

Thank you,
Anthony of another perspective Belfield in the land of the Wangal and Darug Peoples of the Eora Nation

Michael David
9 Feb 2022 - 9:16 am

Good riddance to him, and shame on the author for resorting to “Well, he was always nice to me…”

    9 Feb 2022 - 9:36 am

    This comment has been edited.

simon smith
9 Feb 2022 - 10:25 am

So well said Dan. Spot on great stuff. Marcus is a top operator & was a real pleasure to listen too here in The Hunter Valley on a regular basis.

9 Feb 2022 - 10:55 am

This whole article is irrelevant because what Marcus Paul did was beyond stupid

James Augustine
9 Feb 2022 - 12:28 pm

What an indictment on our society that people would defend such a cold, soulless act as just some innocent mistake. To not only trivialise the death of that poor girl, but to reframe the story so Marcus is the victim of his employers and nefarious activists.

    9 Feb 2022 - 2:10 pm

    This comment has been edited.

9 Feb 2022 - 1:22 pm

He got what he deserved and it should have happened ages ago.

    9 Feb 2022 - 2:13 pm

    This comment has been edited.

9 Feb 2022 - 1:35 pm

What’s the point of this article? I’m sure he was very nice to his grandmother too! The integration of the murdered girl into the competition was simply a lack of experience and ability. The tone, the execution, all for a cheap radio prize was tactless and thoughtless. For someone who has been ‘around’ for so long? He screwed up, we all do from time to time. Learn and move on.

9 Feb 2022 - 1:42 pm

Thank you. I listened to Marcus every day. I enjoyed the show & miss him. I hope he is ok & being supported by those that love him. I’m sure this is so. Good luck Marcus you did a great job & one silly mistake has ended a great morning show. Keep you chin up. I hope 2022 will be a better year than last and all the best for the wedding.

John Clegg
9 Feb 2022 - 1:54 pm

An interesting summary Dan & thanks for making same. We as broadcasters are all sitting ducks” when you consider what we do & should never be under any false sense of illusion that there won’t be people out there “out to get us” To use the old adage, you can’t please everybody, but there’s no harm in trying. I don’t personally know Marcus, but wish him well in his future endeavours. John Clegg.

9 Feb 2022 - 4:25 pm


Come On People
9 Feb 2022 - 4:53 pm

So many saints in the comments here who have apparently never put something to air they’ve regretted later.

What he did was not good and he has said as much. We all make mistakes and it is what you do to rectify the situation after that is just as important.

A big part of the blame can also be put on 2SM management for not giving him the proper resources for a networked show of that size as well.

Sackable offence? No. Silly error of judgment? Absolutely. Thing is a lot of people in the comments need to have a look at their apparently perfect selves if they believe they have the write to criticize someone for a fuck up when they have probably made several themselves.

11 Feb 2022 - 12:02 pm

I honestly can’t believe how quick this station is to cancel a presenter who made a mistake (that very much caused some damage to the community) and genuinely apologised for it.

When you allow so much vitriol from other presenters, but fire someone for the same thing while insist his show is “radical” when it really isn’t (it’s the most balanced one on the station), it’s clearly ideologically motivated and a case of “radical” intolerance of anything other than the narratives the stations sponsors want presented.

Any other industry or even instance on this channel would and has provided a warning, training and opportunity to learn and apologise. This is the exception, and I don’t believe it’s simply because of a trivia questions (as distasteful as it was).

We have ministers who are condoning and not attending to documented negligence in Aged Care, doctors who have abused the public (and are now practicing on restricted duties), media presenters who have asked a woman if she liked being sexually assaulted… And all of these people still have their jobs.

I wish Marcus luck in what he does in the future, and that his reflections on the mistake he made are just as balanced as the other material he presented throughout his time on the station. I for one, will no longer be tuning in here.

12 Feb 2022 - 10:09 am

Marcus should have known better – producer or no producer.

Pamela Golledge
15 Feb 2022 - 1:21 pm

I have listened to Marcus Paul on 2sm from the the time he took over from Dave Sutherland
I am a retired pensioner lady age 70
Everyday I looked forward to his informative show
I would wake up at 5am and tune him in, he was part if my life and I miss him terribly, there is something missing now
Marcus gave us the news as it was happening
The political world and the media are brutal
But if you are honest and don’t pull any punches you put people offside and as a result they are out to get you.
This is how I see it , he has Pauline Hansen and Mark Latham and others on his show
He tried numerous times to interview leaders of the LNP but they were never available or uncontactable
To me they wouldn’t touch his show with a barge pole they were frightened he would ask questions that would be hard for them to answer , so they spared themselves from the embarrament
Marcus wanted transparency and honesty on his show asking questions and being the voice of his listeners
I wanted to know the news and issues of the day. I live by myself so Marcus was the first human of the day that kept me in touch with reality of the news of the day
I miss that, I got a big void in my life and I know I am not getting that back, something is missing, it is like something is taken away from you, I’m so dissappointed that as a avid listener I didn’t get a chance to have a say in his dismissal e.g. a pole Yes/No
As for the quick quiz of the day, a simple mistake that was asked at the spur of the moment, without thought at the time that was thought up at the top of his head
No intent meant, he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he was appalled with what happened to little Charlise Mutton
As a father He couldn’t imagine anything worse a parents nightmare
Marcus Paul no doubt has learned from this bad slip up and it will never happen again
But to sack him for it to me is a knee jerk reaction, everyone makes mistakes we learn from them, they either make you or break you, but in his case the decision made from 2sm network has broken him
He has to live with this for the rest of his life and I think with the love and support from his family and friends he will get the strength to get through it
I loved his show and 2sm has let a good guy go
They have listened to outside interferers and destroyers ” the tall poppy syndrome” bring him down at any cost
That’s how I feel about it, I’d listen to his show and would come up with my view of things
Some would say he was one sided but he tried at numerous times to make LNP part of his show but they wouldn’t participate
So in the end they got rid of him emailers and the enemy within that were jealous of his success bringing in a larger audience and still growing
But no more Marcus is gone
Doesn’t a company hang on to good workers that go beyond what they get paid to do
Wouldn’t a warning do, couldn’t 2sm air their concerns and bring them to his attention
so he would know their grievances and complaints that have been made about him
Very dissappointed listener

Mick C
2 Mar 2022 - 6:23 pm

2SM is a backward radio station.

I listened to 2SM back in the ’70’s when it was a great station.
And great on ait tallent.

Ian McRae Ron E Sparx George Moore.David ” the mighty Whitey” White. Among others.

And on Sunday evenings with Father Jim Mclaren