Kyle Sandilands and Jackie “O” Henderson are reportedly open to ditching current employers ARN Media and KIIS FM for radio rival Southern Cross Austereo (SCA).
The pair were famously former employees of SCA but left the network in 2013 after reported disagreements over contracts and on-air controversies.
However, the hatchet would seem to have been buried with SCA, owned by the ASX-listed Southern Cross Media, being “pretty aggressive” in its pursuit of the duo as they enter the final 18 months of their ARN contract.
The paid signed their deals — reportedly worth up to $8 million per year — with ARN in 2019 and have seen the audience share of their KIIS FM show grow significantly.
“This is like sports rights for radio,” one media executive said with knowledge of discussions told the Australian Financial Review.
“It’s very likely it’ll end up being the biggest talent media deal ever,” they added.
“It’s about more money and making it a bigger show, meaning reaching more markets.”
The Kyle & Jackie O Show regularly battles with 2GB’s Ben Fordham to top the radio ratings and the KIIS FM show most recently controlled 17.9 per cent of the market in the 5:30am – 09:00am slot.
However, the pair’s cumulative audience has apparently grown to almost 900,000 people and ARN has also launched a 24-hour Kyle and Jackie O station on its iHeartRadio platform. KIIS FM also has an Hour of Power highlights show each weekday at 6pm.
Last month, ARN took a 14.8 per cent stake in Southern Cross Media — worth $38 million. ARN said that the move was a “strategic equity investment” as Southern Cross’ share price was so low. However, some have noted that the move might indicate an attempt by ARN to hedge its bets in case Sandilands and Henderson decide to jump ship.
Of course, while the ad dollars that Sandilands and Henderson bring in might be missed at ARN, it seems likely that the pair’s absence from the water cooler would not be lamented.
Last year, Sandilands branded his ARN colleagues “dickheads, spazzes and massive losers.”
It is unlikely that staff at SCA would be delighted at his return. In 2020, Sandilands said that the SCA “couldn’t get a root in a brothel with a wheelbarrow full of money.”
“You know what the problem is over at SCA? They’re so thick with hiring management, that they’ve got no idea what they’re doing,” he added.
ARN’s chief exec, Ciaran Davis told the AFR that the network has been working with the pair over their contracts and their increasing listener figures.
“We don’t see contract negotiations as being an on-off exercise,” said Davis.
“Since Kyle and Jackie O have been with us, we have been working very hard to make sure they feel part of a bigger network, and that everybody contributes to that. I don’t think that it’s a surprise to us that they have had the highest listenership they have ever had.
“Honestly, having worked in many countries in radio, I think they are the best in the world at what they do.”
A spokeswoman for SCA told the AFR that: “We don’t comment on speculation”. A spokesman for Sandilands also declined to comment to the AFR.
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