Monday, 3 August 2009

I read the news 2Day... Oh boy!

By now, you may have seen the story about ‘The Kyle and Jackie O Show’ on 2Day FM in Sydney. The crux of the story is that a 14 year old girl admitted being raped during a live ‘lie detector’ benchmark on their morning show.

The mechanic works like this. One person who has suspicions about the behaviour of another person can arrange for both appear on ‘The Lie Detector’ and awkward and embarrassing questions are then asked. The results are there for all to hear, as a producer or polygraph analyst is there to say if the person being grilled is lying or not. It could work for a husband and wife, boyfriend or girlfriend or even on this occasion, a parent and child.

You may want to hear the item in question so I've uploaded it onto my You Tube channel...

This story has highlighted a few issues.

There’s a very thin line between genuine entertainment derived from real life situations, and really uncomfortable listening. I think you’ll all agree that this was the latter. It’s quite good fun to use a ‘Lie Detector’ to see if your boyfriend has stuck to his commitment of not drinking beer for a month... or if your wife has ever bought a pair of shoes and not told you. This kind of stuff is light, fluffy and pretty harmless.

Where 2Day FM got it wrong was taking a morning show benchmark, which should be about fun and entertainment, and inserting some very difficult real life situations into it. Any decent radio station has a moral responsibility to not recklessly exploit people for the benefit of ratings, and frankly... this was a disaster waiting to happen.

The producer or presenters would have met with the participants before hand, and should have checked ‘which way’ this on air item was going. Alarms bells should have started ringing, and you can tell by the tone on-air of both the parent and daughter, that there was obviously quite a tense relationship anyway. The girl states the whole thing is unfair. They simply shouldn’t have been allowed on air if there was any suspicion that it may go wrong. The producer obviously made the call... which proved to be the wrong one.

Issues such as underage sex, drugs and drinking are legitimate issues that could make for very compelling radio. However, probably not on a morning show and certainly not dealt with in the way we’ve heard here. I’m all for radio dealing with awkward topics, and there are some fantastic examples of when radio does this, but not in the name of entertainment.

To her credit, Jackie (the female host) did her best to get out of the situation, whist Kyle’s “And was that the only experience you’ve had?” response to the child’s revelation has to go down as one of the worst attempts at a recovery... ever. It’s almost Alan Partridge-like in its crassness!

The GM of 2Day FM said in a statement "Kyle and Jackie and 2Day FM were saddened by the turn of events this morning. In the normal course of preparing the segment all due care and consideration was given to the family and clearly we didn’t know anything about the incident."

"The moment we became aware of it was live on air and we shut it down as soon as we possibly could. As is only appropriate, we are offering all the assistance we can to the family, including counselling, in what is of course an extraordinarily difficult situation.”
So – what can we all learn from this?

Vet participants carefully!
Make sure you have the ‘right kind of people’ on the air for any listener participation piece. The more potentially risky the item, the more checks should be done. Giving away a pair of Madonna tickets should not require too many checks!

If it goes wrong... stop right away!
Sometimes more damage is done trying to perform an immediate ‘on-air recovery’. If you can stop an item and play another record... do so. Then you can buy yourself some time to work out what to say, and perhaps apologise if necessary

Use Delay!
If you plan something on air that has the potential to go terribly wrong, at least run it in delay so you can bail out of the show buying you the 7-10 seconds that you need to lose the most offensive bit.

The story is still ongoing and Kyle Sandilands, who is a bit of hate figure in Australia anyway, is certainly “persona non grata” currently. He’s been ditched from the ‘Idol’ show on TV... there’s talk of the police investigating... and the show’s been suspended while an investigation has been launched. The press are having a field day.

Personally, I think it's actually the mother who had arranged for them to go on the air, that should be hung out to dry! What kind of parent would want to do that? Perhaps the same kind that appear on The Jeremy Kyle TV show in the UK. Hang on a minute... what is it about the name 'Kyle'?


Radoslav said...

‘The Kyle and Jackie O Show’ on 2Day FM in Sydney is local morning show.
'Kyle and Jackie O Hour of Power' - on Today Network - weekday from 6-7 pm. is nationally syndicated

Nik Goodman said...

Thanks for setting me straight Radoslav!

Let me know what replaces the "Hour of Power" in the interim. Maybe the "Hour of Silence"? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Didn't you hire Jeremy Kyle for Capital FM?