Kyle : the Raw Interview pt 2

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:

  • 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 he uses the support team on-air – without confusing the listener
  • 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 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: Long before Kyle’s rise to stardom, Kyle and Scott Muller worked at 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…

Yesterday Kyle talked about his favourite station he’s worked at, how he orchestrated getting moved from Darwin to Brisbane, and the character he started playing on-air – read it here.
Scott: What are some of the worst segments you’e done – ones you think “I wish this one would die, and I can’t make it go away”?

Kyle: I actually like it best when a segment goes to shit. We’ve got one on at the moment…

Scott: The dating one?

Kyle: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s called “Singled Out”.

Scott: (Laughs) Best segment on radio at the moment. The reason I asked about worst segments was as a lead-up to that specific one – it’s a total disaster…

Kyle: (Laughs) … because nothing ever happens!!! Everyone either knows that they’re married or ‘I saw this hot gay guy’ – but then turns out he is married with kids. Everyone just has the wrong impression. I just knew it was going to be littered with flaws the first day we had it – because I don’t go to the planning meetings.

When I started (doing Australian) Idol years ago, I said to Jackie ‘I’m going to have to do these auditions, so you’re going to have to do the planning meetings”. She would never do them before that.

I just never went back. She actually hasn’t realised that it’s been 7 years since I’ve been to one. But she loves it – she thrives in there. She has a great radio brain, and anything she thinks is good I know is going to be good.

Then this (dating game) thing showed up and I was saying “this has a lot of flaws”. It’s pretty much live because you don’t want the other person to know. I just knew it was going to be littered with errors, but that’s what makes it my favourite.

Anything else I don’t like, we just drop straight away.

Scott: You hear the setups between the two people – but what I like is every time I've heard it, it's a complete train-wreck – it has never worked out, not once. But it's riveting – and that’s as much about the sound of Jackie's desperation to make this trainwreck of a segment work – and the sound of your total disbelief at the whole thing.

Kyle: You know what it’s like – people train you to be a slick announcer on-air. And I always thought I was never going to be slick, it was never my strong suit. Like, I can’t time-out – that’s why we’re always late – not because we’d like to give more – it’s just because the clock runs how it runs and they tried for years to do the timing out thing.

I’ve just found it easier to be very real or exaggerate a real feeling. If I’m like ‘this is shit’ I exaggerate how shit I think it is or I run with the real feeling. And that’s what I encourage all the other staff to be.

I used to love all the characters (on Austereo stations in the early 1990s) like Lord Mayor Jim, Agro (pictured), the Guru. But they just don’t work today. One of my staff has a speech impediment so he’s ‘Speech Impediment Matt’ – you are what you are. There’s kids that are huge fans of his because they have the same impediment and they look up to him.

Or when Geoff the newsreader was on and he was gay and I said ‘come out of the closet’. So when he came out I asked him what his real opinion was as a gay man. I didn’t want him to be Geoff, bunging on a voice. Be you. Get up in arms about something if you don’t like it.

We encourage them to be everything they are.

Then I make sure they stick to their characters.

Scott: Most of the shows that get the producer on-air, or get someone from behind the scenes on-air, just can’t pull it off. And there are only a few exceptions to that guideline – your show is one of them – it sounds like you can drag anyone who is part of the behind the scenes crew on-air, and the listener doesn’t get confused, even if they haven’t heard the show before.

Kyle: I always make sure they’re on that shit mic. When we upgraded the systems they were going to put in a studio quality mic in the airlock and I said “no, it needs to be that they’re on the crap mic – because they’re out in the phone room, that’s how it needs to sound”. It’s always painting the picture. So I’ve kept a lot of those fundamentals of telling the story, reiterating things, resetting things, keeping that theatre of the mind going.

It’s easy with the producers because I know them well. So if there’s something on that’s questionable sexually I’ll go to Velma – because I already know what the opinion will be. I’ll go to different people in the team knowing “oh, she hates that” – so if Jack and I agree, then I go to her because she is all high and mighty, full of morals, a bit like a nanna. If I go to her I’ll know I’ll have an opposing opinion.

None of that’s planned, that’s just me going to them if I think what we’re doing is shit, or if I want to get rid of a caller without chopping them off. I’ll fade someone down on the phone that’s boring and I’ll go to someone that will give me a different opinion in the phone room – then we can bring it back to where we want to go.

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

  • the controversies, and his thoughts on the press

  • 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)

  • why celebrities shouldn’t fear before going on his show
  • 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 3 here


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

Click here to contact him.

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