Lessons of the Kyle incident: Australian radio is rubbish
We have learned two fairly rubbish lessons from Kyle Sandilands’ latest madness - or three if you count the additional proof provided that Jackie O is feminism’s giggling Uncle Tom.
The first is that Sandilands has all the warmth and genuine compassion of a National Rifle Association Christmas.
The second is that Australian radio is incontestably shit.
Let it be said, the state of play has been shit for some time. And in the case that one of the five people who recalls my own turn as a broadcaster suspects me of conceit: No, I never thought I was much good, either. All I did for eight years was bang on about terrible music from Seattle that was quickly consigned to the history’s scrap heap. That, apparently, and my menstrual cycle.
I may not have advanced the culture. But neither did I mark it with my bile. Back In My Day we never presumed to vomit on the dreams of the demographic. These days, a talent for spewing venom and folly by the decalitre is a virtual guarantee of employment in FM radio.
There are, of course, exceptions. Two of them. These are broadly known as Hamish and Andy. Without artifice and with decent wit, Blake and Lee command outstanding share. This guileless pair saves Austereo’s sagging arse survey after survey. And they do it by poking fun at no-one but themselves.
This blokey refinement was once commonplace in Australia’s electronic media. From end-to-end, the FM dial was stuffed with fairly decent piss-farting. Not so now.
It was rumoured that one radio great was always baked before his drive-time shift. One of his contractual requests is fondly remembered by old schoolers. To wit: he wouldn’t go to air if there wasn’t a dub-reggae song scheduled.
This sort of largesse has, of course, evaporated like smoke. One can no longer go to work smelling like the On-U Sound System. What, after all, would the primary share holders have to say? And one can no longer really get away with sounding unique. Remarkably, Blake and Lee fell through the cracks. Everyone else is happily compressed by a corporate cookie cutter.
A friend of mine compares the dwindling of the “real” in radio to the history of pornography. While it is true that he smokes far too much pot (and watches too much porn) his analogy has some weight.
Some people argue Sandilands and other shock jocks are entitled to their “self-expression”. Similarly, there is a suggestion that pornography is a form of female “self-expression”. These claims might be more credible if all the shock jocks and all the sex-pots weren’t all exactly like the other.
Almost without exception, the babes of today’s erotic images look about as engaged as I might at an official Kyle and Jackie O tit-signing. And about as unique as a slice of processed meat.
The once-eclectic and imaginative smorgasbord of porn that fed desire has become, at best, a deli platter. The quirkiness of our craving is rebuffed. In the same way, traditional media offers us a cruel, shiny one-size-fits-most solution.
In the absence of anything real, we survive on synthetic crap.
There is nothing real about Sandilands’ rage and rudeness. The poor chap may have a personality disorder. Even in this case, it has been polished by the faltering Austereo machine to address the demands of questionable market research. To extend the analogy of my stoner friend, Kyle is nothing but a silicon boob.
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