Kyle : the Raw Interview pt 1

Radio Consultancy

In full, over 5 days – every day this week.

Kyle Sandilands is Australia's most controversial media star. He is also one of the most successful.

Now, for the first time, Kyle tells all about his radio career – and doesn't hold back. All this week on Radio Today he goes into depth with Scott Muller, about:

  • his rise from regional stations to Sydney breakfast and stardom

  • the fictional character his show is based on

  • the controversies, and his thoughts on the press

  • the on-air segment he thinks is a total train-wreck, but is too good to drop
  • how to plan the show a week in advance, yet deliberately not know what's going on in the morning (and why that's a good thing for the listener)

  • the circumstance of his last ever air-check with a Program Director

  • the advice he'd give himself (and anyone else in radio still in their 20s) if he could go back in time

  • and the industry legend he mistook for the paparazzi!


Background: In 1997, long before Kyle’s rise to stardom, Kyle and Scott Muller worked at the hot pop-dance station, 6MMM Perth (now 96fm). Scott was PD, Kyle was in promotions, and here they catch up and talk frankly and openly … and Kyle doesn’t hold back in revealing more about Kyle’s radio career and 2Day’s “Kyle & Jackie O Show” than you’ve ever read before…..

Scott: It’s been 15 years since we worked together at “The All New 96.1 Triple M”, in Perth …

Kyle: Oh my god! That makes me instantly feel a hundred years old! A lot of my best memories of radio have been the stupid stuff, or the fun that you have, not necessarily all on the air, from all these different places that I’ve worked.

Triple M in Perth is one of my favourite radio memories ever* – just because there were great people there, we were young, we were the underdogs, we were the gay Triple M cousin in Perth that played the Today format. We had it good and we could do all that experimental, crazy, guerilla stuff that you don’t do when you hold the number 1 position. I had the best time and learnt so much great stuff there. I still tell everyone that was the best station I ever worked at.

(*Historical note: when Nova 969 changed its strategy in late 2002, 6MMM Perth was the station it was modeled on, leading to Nova's success from 2003-2005. The 6MMM creative approach was also used at Capital Radio London in 2006-2007 to turn it around and boost cume and breakfast).

I really thought when I walked into 2Day the first time in 1999, I thought here it is again, it’s gonna be “that Triple M Perth feeling” again – because I thought everyone would be the best of the best.

And then I was so disappointed. These people were stuck in a rut, half the people didn’t want to be there – total “nine to fivers”, admin sort of people that don’t know radio.

But Jeff Allis (former Austereo Group Program Director – pictured) was the one that sent me there, and he secretly told me “Do whatever you want, just win”. He was the one that said to me that some of the people here are amazing and some people shouldn’t be here. You can figure out who they are for yourself. Your job is to win, and you may have to knock down a lot of walls to do it.

Scott: That must have been pretty liberating to get that direction from him?

Kyle: I certainly took the bull by the horns and used that to my full advantage. Some would probably say way overboard, because I did use that ‘get out of jail free card’ from him all the time. But it was fun – I loved it.

Scott: After Triple M Perth and before landing at 2Day you were up in Darwin…

Kyle: After 6PR took control (of Triple M Perth) it went from the best to the worst. So I went up to Darwin. In my mind it was a capital city and I was doing breakfast. But all of us know, at the end of the day, it’s Darwin. And the heat up there just killed me. That was a fun bunch of people there, too. But it was sort of … the best of the regionals were sitting in Darwin. Some guys had been the best in Townsville and moved to Darwin, and after being there 8 years they get a bit stale.

Then Greg Smith bounced into town one day and I was like “this is it, it’s the ticket out of here!” So I put together the best show – I planned this show for weeks knowing that the consultant was coming. (In the weeks leading up to Greg Smith’s visit) some great thing would happen and I’d be like “nup, that’s not going on today, I’m saving that for the consultant show”.

I had a great show that day, me and the PD were on-air and (Greg Smith) came in and said “this is capital city standard” and I went “YES!!!” I’d done it, I made (the show sounded) exactly how I wanted it.

He said “we’re going to move you over to Brisbane” and I thought “sweet!” – and me and the PD were high-fiving. And (Greg looked at the PD and said ) “not you – just Kyle”. I felt terrible and (the PD’s) little sad face was like a cat, and he said “but we’re a team!” and I said “yes, we’re a team – but I’m not going to not go to Brisbane – because if we can’t go together, then I’d go by myself”.

Some would think that’s not really helping your mate down the track, but you know what it’s like, you have to do that all the time. (note: that PD is now very successful in North America).

Scott: What score did Greg give you?

(Note: Greg Smith is notorious for his “scores out of ten” during air-checks)

Kyle: I think he gave me 8 out of 10. I never got another.

I stopped doing air-checks years ago. I had an argument with (an Austereo Programmer) once. He stopped the tape at the end of something and said “you really should have hooked first and then said the song” and I said “I decided to do it the other way just for a different way to do it. When was the last time you were on-air? He said “I did breakfast at (regional station)”. Exactly! He and I had a weird relationship. We’d either get on really well or want each other dead. So it eventually got to the stage where I said I think I know more than you and I don’t want you to tell me what you think because I don’t agree.

Scott: How did that go down?

Kyle: Not very well. It was rude to do it but it was one of those situations where he was just saying stuff for the sake of saying it. He was doing his job and it was terrible of me to do that but I felt it was true at the time.

Scott: Here’s my weird perception of your rise to fame. After I was PD at Triple M and 92.9 Perth, I moved to the UK for a few years. When I left Australia in 1998 you were the promotions guy. Then, when I came back in 2001, you’re on the Hot 30 Countdown! I thought “they’ve got the promotions guy on the Hot 30 Countdown?!? Dear God!” So I listened to the Hot 30 to figure out why – and for the whole show you’re doing that character ‘Gameshow Boy’, from the Triple M Perth night’s show – you did that character for the whole Hot 30 Countdown! Remember ‘Gameshow Boy’?

Kyle: (laughs) Yeah, I totally remember it. And the only reason ‘Gameshow Boy’ existed in the first place was because Ben (Wasley) and Claire (Marshall) could not do a credit to save their lives. They had a great show but would never do a credit ever so I’d never have anything for an air-check (to send to) a client. So we had to invent that character to get credits on-air so clients would give us stuff to give away!

Scott: It was essentially 2 minutes of you abusing the listener, then spinning a wheel, and saying ‘by the way you’ve won a prize – you should be grateful’

Kyle: I really did love that. I’ve even tried to do Gameshow Boy since then. And I thought “wow – I am actually Gameshow Boy!”. I can’t do this character – because this character is now real!

Coming up on “Kyle – the Raw Interview”, every day this week…

  • the controversies, and his thoughts on the press

  • the on-air segment he thinks is a total train-wreck but it just won't die

  • how to use your support team on-air – the right way
  • how to plan the show a week in advance yet deliberately not know what's going on on the morning (and why that's a good thing for the listener)

  • the advice he'd give himself (and anyone else in radio still in their 20s) if he could go back in time
and the industry legend he mistook for the paparazzi!

Read part 2 here


Scott Muller is Director of MBOS Consulting Group, a media management and consulting firm.

Click here to contact him.

Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (0)
Post new comment


See all