I Was Cynical About Commercial Radio: Matt Tilley

I Was Cynical About Commercial Radio: Matt Tilley

When he was first starting in radio Matt Tilley (pictured left above) said he was cynical about the whole shebang, he was just waiting around for it all to blow up so he could finish his law degree.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

“Whilst everything I did was really important, I just didn’t buy into a sort of station ethic,” he said in the newest Radio Game Changers podcast.

“I was cynical about commercial radio. I’d go out on the weekends with my mates and smash ourselves up listening to Nirvana before commercial radio played them.

“I guess I had this disaffected version of what I did.”

There’s no denying Tilley’s prevalence in commercial radio in his 20 plus year career. Currently he hosts the Matt & Meshel KIIS101.1 Melbourne brekkie show with Meshel Laurie. But when queried by podcast host Craig Bruce on how he got out of his cynicism, Tilley isn’t sure.

“I think in the end I just realised that maybe this is going to work out,” he said. “Plus, it’s really important to me to do anything the best that I can do.”

He thought there was an illusion of himself within the industry that he was anti-radio.

“And yet I really think, without sounding like a knob, I broke the mould in terms of people not going ‘hey, this is my craft!’ Instead, he said he was more focused on figuring out ways to get the audience.

Tilley also coined the infamous ‘Gotcha Calls’ – prank calls a station would conduct in amusement.

While many of them were harmless, the situation dubbed the ‘Royal Prank’ made international headlines when two hosts on Southern Cross Austereo rang up a hospital where Kate Middleton was staying for morning sickness and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Phillip. One of the nurses involved on the hospital side of the prank ended up tragically committing suicide.

Tilley was not involved in the Royal Prank – the hosts at the time were Mel Greig and Michael Christina. Read more about Royal Prank here.

Noting his role in developing the Gotcha Calls though, Tilley said he was contacted after the Royal Prank to be warned British paparazzi could come to his house.

“I had brought them [Gotcha Calls] back about six months earlier, but I remember getting a call saying ‘listen, something really bad had happened and no jokes… there may be English paparazzi on your doorstop as the Australian Gotcha guy, and we just want to let you know,” he said.

“Obviously the prank call came to mean something different to everyone in the end,” added Bruce.

Listen to the full podcast here. Or check out Hamish Blake’s foray into becoming one of the most recognisable voices on radio.