Kyle : the Raw Interview pt 4

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 ever, 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 advice he'd give himself if he could go back in time
the big factors in the show’s success
  • why cash is still king – and how to get more of it (for the listeners)
  • the radio rules he threw out years ago
  • why comedians hate him
  • and where he plans to take his career next !


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…

You can read part 1 here, part 2 here, and yesterday’s instalment here (about planning the show a week in advance, yet still deliberately not knowing what’s going on-air on the day, and why celebrities shouldn’t fear of being a guest on his show).

Scott: What is your reaction when you get an accolade like Brad March saying you’re Australia’s number 1 personality of all time – and then describes you as up there alongside the likes of Howard Stern and Alan Jones?

Kyle: I was flabbergasted, to tell you the truth. I don’t really look at myself like that. I’m a bit … a bit of bravado goes on but I don’t really sit around at home thinking I’m the best. I don’t even really celebrate anything. Even when the survey comes out and we do well, everyone’s hi-fiving and wanting to do lunches and I won’t go because I just think we’re already 2 weeks into the (next survey) – we haven’t got time to celebrate.

When I was over in Perth or when I was in Canberra before that, or when I was in Brisbane or whatever – I’d always try and get noticed by Brad, but wouldn’t. It wasn’t that long ago when I ran into him down at Bondi. I thought he was the paparazzi, looking out the window. He had like a hat and glasses on and I thought “who is this clown?” – and he’s signalling for me to come over – and I thought “I’m not going over there!?”

Then I realised it was him and I hauled over there like a groupie. “I thought you were a photographer” and he was just laughing. He complimented me and said very nice things about the show and about Jackie. It was just nice to hear. I was never on his radar back in the day, so it was nice. I was a bit chuffed by it all actually – “Brad March thinks I’m excellent”. … which sounds odd, but I got a little jolly’s out of it. I even rang Jackie and told her and she was like “really?” I think she was a bit amazed by it as well.

We may not sound like the most humble but we actually are. We really do just love doing that job. (When I wake up and) the alarm is going off I never think “here we go again” – I spring out of bed everyday – we race in there. We both don’t enjoy holidays, we like doing (the show). We’ve always enjoyed coming back to work.

Scott: What do you think are the big factors in your success?

Kyle: We’re lucky because we have the pop music for a start. We grew up with the kids, as well – those people that we grew up with in the Hot 30 that were teenagers, they’re now young adults, or young families, so we’ve been in their life for years.

And we’re on the big station, so we got plenty of cash to give away – so the contests are always good, and the prizes are always great. I‘m a big fan of cash, I don’t really like holidays and putting together these adventure things because most people don’t want them – they don’t have the time. Everyone always wants money, always.

The pop quiz went off today, that’s $10,000. I’m forcing them to keep that pop quiz. It was going to be a spike for 2 weeks. Then I said on-air – (with) things that I want (to happen), rather than play politics, I say it on-air – I say, “they couldn’t possibly go back to just a thousand now, it will be just like ripping the listener off. I just can’t see them doing it”. Jackie knows that they’re going back to a thousand on Monday. They (management) says “now we have to keep this thing going. We’ll do it for another month”. So we do it for another month and I just pop that out again (on-air), “it’s been going on for 3 months, it couldn’t possibly go back to a thousand now” (laughs).

Scott: (Laughs) … and then you do the focus groups and, after all the work everyone has put into a great, creative, exciting promotion, and you ask “have you heard any radio contests you liked? – and the listeners always say “Yeah! There was this great one, um, it was fantastic – do you know that one, the one where you win a hundred thousand dollars – did you guys do that one?”

Kyle: (Laughs)

Scott: It’s weird but a lot of people would rather deny the appeal of cash – rather than just admitting “we can’t afford it”. “We can’t afford it” is better than manipulating the research to say “apparently they all want a holiday to Argentina thanks to Aer Lingus – who woulda thought?”. They don’t.…so, are there any other ways your show goes against the grain of conventional wisdom?

Kyle: Yeah, the old idea of one thought per break. I thought these kids are all on the iPad, they’ve all got 19,000 web pages open at the same time. People are doing more and we’re just sort of in the background. I didn’t want to be in the background. They used to say to me all the time “just one thought per break because you’re on in the background and people are focused on something else”. I don’t want them focused on something else, I want them focused on what I’m saying. I don’t want to be on while they’re making the toast, I want the radio cranked loud and the kids being told ‘SHHHHH’. We kept being told that we should accept that we’re in the background and I thought “that’s unacceptable”. When I listened to Jamie Dunn, God forbid if anyone even breathed too loud – I’d spew – because I wanted to hear everything he said. So I just expected that is just how everyone should listen to it – and I still foolishly think that’s what happens (laughs).

Scott: Funny you say the one thought per break thing – I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to shows – but it’s not a blanket rule for every single show, it’s about the point where people mentally ‘tune-out’ from what you’re saying. So if you command attention and say something worth hearing they’ll hear it. There’s lots of moments in every show where (the person listening) mentally tunes out because they’re just not saying anything interesting.

Kyle: Oh, one hundred percent. And I have no doubt that we do that often as well because DB (2DayFM Content Director, Derek Bargwanna – pictured) often comes around and says “you had me for the first 6 minutes but once it got to 17 minutes I thought it was ridiculous’…(laughs)…then they tried to make the beds a certain length so they were only 3 minutes long and I was like “come on, guys – I’ll just run 2 beds”. I said “I just can’t finish a talk break unless I think it’s great and ready to finish – just to play 5 minutes of ads. I think people would rather hear us talking shit than 5 minutes of ads”. DB says “but they’re gonna hear you talking shit AND 5 minutes of ads – and you’re gonna finish at 10 to 10 and fuck my whole workday up”. But we all get on well (laughs).

Coming up tomorrow on “Kyle – the Raw Interview”….

  • the controversies
  • his thoughts on the press

  • why comedians hate him
  • the advice he'd give himself (and anyone else in radio still in their 20s) if he could go back in time
and where he plans to take his career next !

Read part 5 here


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

Click here to contact him.

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