We need to talk about Kyle
Posted November 23rd, 2011 by debritz
Update: Holden has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Kyle and Jackie O show.
Yesterday, when I wrote this, I was in a conciliatory mood towards Kyle Sandilands.
I said he was a good, possibly great radio broadcaster, but he - especially when teamed with his 2Day co-host Jackie O - couldn't carry a TV show, and that the television networks should be looking for fresh talent rather than spending more money on him.
Then I became aware of this rant. Sandilands had used his breakfast radio show to make a personal attack on a journalist who had merely reported criticisms of his Night with the Stars TV program (which turned out to be a ratings flop).
He called news.com.au's Alison Stephenson a "fat slag" and a "piece of shit", and he criticised the size of her breasts and her hairstyle.
Well, Kyle, I hope you feel like a big man, because you're not just the King, as you like to call yourself, you're the Emperor - the Emperor With No Clothes. And it's time for somebody to tell you so.
Back when Sandilands was hosting the Hot 30 program, I interviewed him over an incident where he put to air a confrontation between a schoolgirl and her mother, who had been having sex with her daughter's boyfriend.
A psychologist I interviewed for that story called what Sandilands was doing "child abuse".
During our interview, Sandliands complained that nobody acknowledged all the good work he was doing raising funds for and awareness of Kids' Helpline.
As experts pointed out, this was a case that should have been referred to Kids' Helpline, not broadcast across Australia. Even Jackie O tried to stop it going to air, but Sandilands proudly boasted to me that he overruled her because he had "more experience".
Well, Kyle not only survived that one, he got promoted and has been
emboldened. Is strapping a teenage girl to a lie detector, where it emerged that she had been raped, or calling a woman a "fat slag"*, helping kids in any way? No, it's setting an extremely bad example.
I tweeted something about Sandilands last night, and one of my followers said I was just giving him "more oxygen". I disagree, and prefer to run with the tweeter who said that there was no point in having programs against bullying in schools if the No. 1 bully - who, by virtue of his primetime status on TV and radio, has a large following among young people (many of whom have body-image issues) - is allowed to get away with unacceptable behaviour again and again.
(It's worth remembering that his rant against Stephenson was not only aired on 2Day, it also made it to the program's podcast, meaning other "adults" at Southern Cross Austereo were involved in spreading this poison.)
I was wrong to think even for a minute that Sandilands had changed his ways.
We not only have to talk about Kyle, we have to make sure that his employers - Southern Cross Austereo and the Seven Network - do something to rein him in.
And the authorities must make it clear that if his employers don't do something about Sandilands, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will.
* Do you detect a pattern here? The victims of his rants are often women. David Penberthy has more on that here.
PS: A petition at change.org is calling for Sandilands to be sacked.