The Daily Shift’s David Prendergast reports on the long history of controversy at Australian radio station 2DayFM…
2DayFM, the Sydney radio station behind a prank call on the staff of King Edward VII hospital in London, has a long history of controversy.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the DJs who rang the hospital seeking an update on Kate Middleton’s medical condition by impersonating Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, aren’t the first employees whose on-air antics have landed the 32-year-old station into trouble.
The radio station is currently serving two five year probations, issued in 2009 and 2011, after breaching the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s code.
The 2009 incident involved a segment in which a 14-year-old girl was hooked up to a lie detector and pressured into talking about her sex life on live radio despite telling the presenters that she was “scared” and that the questions were “unfair”. In the segment, the girl’s mother asked her daughter if she was sexually active.
The girl replied: “I’ve already told you the story of this and don’t look at me and smile because it’s not funny. Oh okay. I got raped when I was twelve years old.” One of the presenters, Kyle Sandilands, then replied: “Right. And is that, is that the only experience you’ve had.”
The second incident also involved Kyle Sandilands. In November 2011, the DJ branded a female journalist who criticised the smuttiness of his show a “fat slag” and threatened to “hunt her down” if she criticised him again.
He then continued to berate her live on air saying: “What a bitter thing you are, you’re deputy editor of an online thing. You’ve got a nothing job anyway. You’re a piece of shit. You’re a bullshit artist, girl. That’s what you are. You should be fired from your job.”
Sandilands also stirred trouble when he suggested a Polish born actress Magda Szubanksi should lose weight by visiting a concentration camp.
In 2005 another 2DayFM DJ, Craig Lowe, also breached the Australian broadcasting code of practice when he interviewed a porn star, Amber Pie, live on air and she talked in detail about her sexual experiences. Lowe also received complaints for using inappropriate language on air but he defended himself by saying: “I didn’t think slut was as bad as whore”.
In 1997 another 2DayFM DJ was suspended for a month when he prank-called a top-ranking HSC (Leaving Cert equivalent) student pretending to be from the New South Wales Board of Studies. David Rymer made the female student cry on air by telling her there had been a mistake in her HSC results and she had scored a 49 on her English exam, not an 89 like she had received. This meant she didn’t do well enough to go to her preferred university.
Although her mother gave permission to the show for the prank to be aired, the girl’s father, a lawyer, took legal action.
It remains to be seen what consequences the station will face from the current controversy. An independent investigation is underway by the ACMA.