Former host Jeremy Cordeaux slams ‘idiotic’ radio content & talentless programmers
Former station owner and talk radio host Jeremy Cordeaux has come out swinging at the industry, tearing down everything from its content and its lineups through to incompetent management.
Cordeaux previously owned 5AD (now ARN’s Mix 102.3), and most recently worked as an announcer on Adelaide’s FIVEaa, owned by NOVA Entertainment.
He was sacked in March over “inappropriate and offensive” comments about rape survivor Brittany Higgins.
In an interview with the Blind Insights podcast, however, Cordeaux claims it is radio that has lost its way, and it’s now devoid of characters, its craft and cut-through.
It’s so bad now, he said, that he wouldn’t even bother putting it in his garbage bin.
“I’ve never understood why management hasn’t understood the power of that quality. I listen to FM radio now, particularly FM, but I hear it on AM radio as well, and what comes out of that speaker, I wouldn’t put in my garbage bin. It just sounds awful. And if it doesn’t sound right, what is the thing you’re actually selling?,” he said.
“It’s about standards. If I wasn’t able to do something, I wouldn’t apply for it, because I’d know I was embarrassing the person who would have to tell me the horrible truth… But these days, it sounds like the producer or the manager just walked out in the street, stopped the third person walking past the building, and said ‘Come in, you’re a star’. No, he’s not. He never will be. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, whether you’re making movies or you’re making radio or you’re making television. It’s a race to the bottom, when it should be a race to the top.”
The problem, he said, is compounded by unimaginative programmers who don’t know who else to put on air.
“The comedian thing is just terrible. They are so devoid of a reference point as to who should be on air and who shouldn’t be on air, that if you’re a stand-up comic, you’re in,” he said.
“But that’s the problem, because once they’ve done their schtick, once they’ve done their thing, there’s nothing else there but a whole lot of laughter. You’ve got Hughey, Dewey and Louie on just about every FM station and not one program director or general manager has got the balls or the knowledge to say ‘Listen. This is a great blank canvas we have here. Is this honestly the best use that we can make of a broadcasting licence?’”
The craft too, is gone, he said.
“It certainly isn’t used today because there is no thought given to the microphone, my distance from the microphone, my ability to use my voice or not use my voice, all of that comes with experience, nobody can teach you any of that. I put it down to the fact that there’s no show in the business. It should be show business.”
This focus on business, he said, means creativity and craft is out the window, with accountants and men in suits – rather than inspiring radio minds – making decisions.
“You can’t always explain to somebody why that program or that person is talent and that one isn’t. You can’t always write it down. There’s no formula for it. But the trouble is these days, if I were to go back to 2GB now, I would find that the person in charge would be an accountant… My philosophy in business, and I’ve owned radio stations and I’ve managed radio stations, and particularly talk stations, accountants are on tap… You don’t put them on top. On tap, not on top. It’s a very simple thing,” he said.
Radio used to be built on characters and intuitive programming, he said, noting “I don’t know what exactly it’s built on [now]”.
“Now, it’s this kind of blind, idiotic, one-size-fits-all. You have to be a music station, or you have to be a talk station, I can’t understand why… If you look at the evolution, perhaps not graduation, but the evolution, to FM radio, you have a situation where in America, a lot of FM stations are talk stations. Yet here, we have this narrow-minded view that if you’re an FM station, you’re a music station – if you’re an AM station, you’re a talk station. Why would you box yourself into something as silly as that? Particularly when you have this thing called digital, DAB, and that whole thing was based on the fact that AM and FM would eventually be a level playing field,” he said.
Cordeaux was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2015.