Is Kyle Sandilands’ live broadcasting career over?

On my way into the office this morning I was in something of a dilemma about whether to write about Kyle Sandilands’ latest transgression.  

It struck me that by being slightly swifter to apologise this time, Austereo had perhaps killed the story.

I didn’t bother to write anything.

But then something that has become quite familar in recent weeks – a terse announcement from Austereo by email  “for immediate release”.

Sandilands was off the air, again.

Once again Austereo takes little credit. If the station was making the judgement on how it felt about the joke, Sandilands would not have been allowed to do his show this morning. So clearly it was a reaction to the media coverage, rather than an ethical decision.

Hard to say which incident was worst. Outing a young alleged rape victim, or effectively making light of the holocaust. Perhaps the former in that there was a vulnerable individual at the centre of that one, while Magda Szubanski can look after herself.

But the situation for Austereo now is even more difficult. The situation has parallels with the Sachsgate affair in the UK.

One of the BBC’s most highly paid presenters Jonathan Ross was suspended after prank phone calls were made to the answering machine of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. Sachs was taunted about presenter Russel Brand having slept with his grand daughter.

After the media furore, Ross came back on air. But the scrutiny was intense, and he found it impossible to continue working live because ther press were listening intently for the next faux pas, which inevitably came. That’s the same situation for Sandilands now.

Offensive as it was, it’s conceivable that prior to the lie detector incident, he might have got away with his concentration camp gag. Mind you, Szubanski’s Polish heritage – which Sandilands was probably unaware of – made matters worse.

But having been taken off air, Sandilands – a presenter who walks the line, and often crosses it – will struggle to be himself on live radio again.

That’s what happened with Ross. When he came back, every minor live gaffe was major news. In the end the BBC had to switch to pre-recording his show, which it remains even now.

You can manage that with a weekly programme, but not with a breakfast show.

As a live presenter, Sandilands may well be finished. Even more likely is that by offending the Jewish community he has done serious damage to his hopes of breaking into the US.

For the forseeable future, Sandilands’ live broadcasting career is in tatters.

Tim Burrowes


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