From a homeless kid in Brisbane to living with his aunt in Townsville, to lying to get his first job and driving a radio promo van without a license, to plenty of on-air controversies since, no one can deny Kyle Sandilands is a colourful character.
Just ask Karl Stefanovic, who can’t believe Sandilands is still on the radio.
Interviewing Sandilands at the Radio Alive 2019 conference in Brisbane, Stefanovic took a sneaky jab at the shock jock’s massive pay.
“I got divorced and sacked. You offend two of the world’s great religions and get $8 mil.”
He also said he can’t believe Sandilands is “still on the radio” after all the controversies that have surrounded the KIIS FM radio host.
Sandilands said, however, he never plans what he says and does very little preparation for the breakfast show he hosts alongside Jackie O.
He said: “A lot of people think, ‘He must plan these noxious, horrible things he says’. But nothing has a plan because if you’ve ever worked with me, you’ll know I do very little to zero preparation. But there’s a method to that. That’s not just laziness. I like to go in with virgin ears so hear everything for the first time like the listeners.”
Sandilands also dug into his former employers at SCA, which produced his and Jackie O’s former breakfast show on 2Day FM, which came to an end in November 2013. It was speculated contract negotiations and pay was the catalyst for the radio duo jumping ship to the ARN network, yet at the time Sandilands denied that.
Sandilands couldn’t resist taking a swipe at SCA when discussing with Stefanovic why he loves working at the ARN, despite suggesting he wasn’t on stage to berate SCA.
He said: “I’m not here to shitcan SCA because as I said, their management team has all changed. They’ve all failed in life and they doing whatever they’re doing now. But over at ARN, it feels like old school radio. It feels like you work at a radio station and not the tax department, which is what Austereo felt like when I was there. Who knows what it feels like now probably, the tax department with no money and a shit share price.”
He also debunked the “misconception” that he plans or “takes delight” in being a shock jock and told Stefanovic: “I’m always as horrified as anyone else is.”
Sandilands was also adamant he doesn’t pursue the controversy.
“I’m not actively pursuing it, ever. People won’t believe that, but it’s true. Our mantra for our show is it should be like a group of friends all getting together, and we’ll just take the piss out of each other. But it’s never like, ‘Oh, I’m going to say this, and that will get that sort of reaction. It’s never like that.
“I’ve said plenty of times dumb things that in hindsight, you think ‘oh fuck, that is shit. And I can understand why some people have the shits, but I’m not going to run around licking assholes all day.”
Sandilands said he will apologise if he truly is sorry, but he doesn’t “run around saying sorry to every single thing.”
Stefanovic touched on the idea that if on-air talent “step out of line” these days, it can create a “very big noise”, especially on social media, and make it a lot harder for people like Sandilands to stay away from controversy.
Stefanovic said: “Social media propagates more headlines, and the very thing that people are attracted to, you stop from doing because of the noise that’s being made.”
Sandilands agreed, touching on the Alan Jones saga that saw advertisers pull out of his show.
“That’s happened to me before,” said Sandilands. “And, you know, that’s always a really bad spot to find yourself in because you don’t want people to start attacking advertisers. No one ever wants to be in that spot.”
At the end of the day, however, Sandilands said he just wants to make people laugh.
“I really will just want to make people laugh and feel comfortable and relaxed about each other. And regardless of what you think about me and the show, none of us on the show ever want anyone to feel less than anyone else, we’re all really about equality.
“And no matter where you come from or what you believe in and what your sexual orientation is, or what colour your hair is, or anything else, we want people to feel included. We’ve made a big effort around that. I like to say we’re a minority group station.”
Sandilands also opened up about his relationship with Jackie O, suggesting their chemistry and why they’ve lasted the distance comes down to respect and friendship.
He said: “We respect each other, and we admire each other. We have a genuine friendship.”