Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O in their 60 Minutes interview. Picture: 60 Minutes/Channel 9
Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O in their 60 Minutes interview. Picture: 60 Minutes/Channel 9

Most careless words ever uttered on radio

COMMENT

There's a moment in the 60 Minutes interview with Kyle Sandilands that captures the truth about the top-rating radio host.

Sandilands had just told his co-host Jackie O that he had a medical condition "that I haven't spoken to anybody about" before admitting it was a joke.

It was "gotcha" television, the sort of prank for which Sandilands and his KIIS FM radio show has become notorious.

But on this occasion, as he has so often, Sandilands failed to read the room and his audience.

"You are messed up," interviewer Karl Stefanovic observed, before asking his subject: "Why would you do that?"

 

The moment when Kyle Sandilands told his co-host and Jackie O he’d been diagnosed with a condition before revealing it was a joke. Picture: 60 Minutes/Channel 9
The moment when Kyle Sandilands told his co-host and Jackie O he’d been diagnosed with a condition before revealing it was a joke. Picture: 60 Minutes/Channel 9

In the unfunny comedy of errors set in motion by the interview, most grievously Sandilands' tone deaf and misguided utterances around mental health, the truth is the host is messed up.

We know he is because he says he is. But that doesn't give him the right to mess up other people's lives with his puerile and dangerous statements.

Sandilands is an emotional pinball, ricocheting between being funny, serious and disdainful. But in telling his radio audience that being honest about his sadness was "the biggest mistake of his life" and that when you're feeling sad, "you should tell no-one", he was recklessly irresponsible.

His bosses should take him off air immediately for the health and safety of his audience who may take his damaging comments to heart.

In just 48 hours Sandilands has not only offended those suffering genuine illnesses, whether physical or mental, his insensitive behaviour has proven he is unfit for work.

First he told his co-host he had a serious medical condition before announcing it was "a joke". Next he told listeners of his radio show that he'd pulled the stunt because he'd wanted to broach his mental health issues but shied away at the last moment.

Then, a day later, he trivialised mental health and pilloried those who had reached out to offer him support in the wake of his vulnerability.

 

Sandilands said he made the joke because he didn’t want to talk about his mental health during the 60 Minutes interview. Picture: Channel 9/60 minutes via Twitter
Sandilands said he made the joke because he didn’t want to talk about his mental health during the 60 Minutes interview. Picture: Channel 9/60 minutes via Twitter

 

"Every b**tard and their dog sent messages. Which is very nice, but all day - the phone (buzzing) it was so annoying," he said. Then he read out a text from former sports star and TV presenter Beau Ryan to give listeners "a good example of what I'm dealing with".

"I'm sitting there relaxing, and I open my phone: 'Hey man, it's Beau Ryan. Just wanted to say I really hope you're OK and I'm always here for you. And for what it's worth bro, I really look up to you and I'm glad that I'm on your team. Stay strong, and please take care my bro.'

"Too many bros for a start! I didn't bother responding, It is nice but … I don't want that. I should've kept quiet and got fatter and fatter."

Then came one of the most careless lines ever to be uttered on radio: "My message is, when you're feeling sad, tell no-one."

In the same way you can't joke about being a terrorist at an airport without being hauled into a backroom to be interrogated, Sandilands needs to be pulled off air for a psychological assessment.

If he is mentally unwell he needs help, and if he isn't then he needs to give a damn about others who may regard him as a role model or an authority.

Australia hasn't made huge inroads in destigmatising mental health and building up services to help sufferers to have it undermined by a man who is, at best, unwell, and at worst, deeply out of touch. It's fine to be a shock jock; what we don't need is shock jerks.

 

He opened up on Monday about his mental health before declaring it one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Picture: Twitter
He opened up on Monday about his mental health before declaring it one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Picture: Twitter

While it's inexplicable to many, Sandilands is unquestionably a ratings winner. It's why the Nine Network played misleading teasers in the days leading up to the 60 Minutes interviews which have since been dubbed "clickbait promo".

Viewers believed they were about to see him confessing to a major medical diagnosis only to watch the show and learn he was joking. Stefanovic has since defended the promos, saying the 48-year-old star did disclose a serious heart problem that could kill him at any time.

It's arguable that both KIIS and Nine are enablers. In the same way a staff member takes the overweight Sandilands a Kit Kat chocolate bar to alleviate his bad moods, any media group that continues to promote or endorse the radio host in his current state of mind could be seen as failing in their duty of care.

We don't know right now if Sandilands is messing with us or if his erratic behaviour is a clumsy and deeply uncomfortable cry for help.

In either eventuality, caution not encouragement is needed right now.

 

 

Originally published as Most careless words ever uttered on radio