Will Kyle call it quits?

Will Kyle call it quits?

Posted March 27th, 2012 by debritz

Southern Cross Austereo is facing a big dilemma in light of today's ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority deeming that its Sydney station, 2Day, had breached decency standards.

The dilemma? Exactly when should it pull the pin on Kyle Sandilands, the man who has brought such shame on the station and the network, and whose behaviour has put at risk millions of dollars of advertising revenue?

It's not the ACMA ruling that will determine the fate of Sandilands and his co-host Jackie O, however. It's the ratings.

The second official radio ratings survey for 2012, also released today, shows the Kyle and Jackie O Show is continuing to decline in ratings, despite expensive promotional activity during the survey period.

While the show still leads the commercial FM pack, Sandilands' audience share has dipped below the psychologically important 10 per cent threshold, while his fresh competitors, Fitzy and Wippa, at Nova are on the way up.

Clearly, Kyle is edging closer to his use-by date. Austereo knows this. But it also knows that he's been a good and loyal servant to the company over many years, and that his talent and notoriety have brought publicity and big dollars to the network.

But sentiment only goes so far in business. In Brisbane, Austereo cut loose Jamie Dunn six years ago, and his onetime on-air partner Ian Skippen just last year. In their hey-day with the B105 Morning Crew, they brought in the kind of ratings Kyle Sandilands -- or, indeed, any other current broadcaster -- could only dream of.

At one stage, the B105 Morning Crew commanded about a third of the total available Brisbane audience. I've not seen the figures, but I know they put big, big dollars into the Austereo coffers.

The nature of commercial radio, of course, is that nobody stays at the top of the ladder forever. There comes a point when they are no longer worth the big money they are paid. In Brisbane, management decided to bite the bullet with a view to rebuilding before the figures got too low. In Dunn's case, he was allowed to announce his own departure after lining up another gig.

Now, whatever you think of Kyle Sandilands, he's done very well in a very competitive market, and he deserves some credit for it.

However, his race is very nearly run. In fact, it could be argued that the controversy surrounding him in recent years has extended his career with 2Day beyond its realistic shelf life. But the station management really must be contemplating renewal.

I'm not saying Sandilands is going to get the sack anytime soon, partly because he still makes money for 2Day and partly because Austereo doesn't want to be seen to be weak in bowing to the pressure applied by lobby groups. However, I think if Sandilands presented his resignation to management tomorrow, it would be accepted without too much of a fight.

In fact if I were Kyle Sandilands, I would make a big show of quitting at the time of my own choosing. But I wouldn't wait too long, in case worse surveys are on their way.

On a related subject, I am quite disturbed by the revelations surrounding Kyle and Jackie O Show producer Bruno Bouchet, who has taken down his website and Twitter account following this story at Crikey.com.au.

I knew Bruno when he was in Brisbane, and he always presented himself to me as a friendly, polite and competent professional. The website in question was puerile -- the kind of stuff you might expect from a 15-year-old schoolboy who'd just discovered some naughty pictures on the internet. It's hard to associate those posts, or his bodily-function-obsessed tweets, with the person I thought I knew.

Unless I'm a bad judge of character, I think it says a lot about the effects of working on the Kyle and Jackie O show.