Radio Daze – The Toxicity of Shock Jocks

Back when AM radio was still in existence, back in the 1980s, I used to regularly listen to 3XY, the predecessor to FOX FM, particularly whilst doing my home work in high school or writing my uni essays.

There was a vibe amongst the DJs which was good humoured and good natured. When they got callers online, and they clowned around with them, you got the general sense that they were laughing with them, rather than at them.

Fast forward to about 16-17 years ago, circa 2005. I had long gotten out of the habit of listening to radio, and happened to tune in to FOX FM sometime out of idle curiosity. There was some show on where people were being encouraged to call in and share some intimate personal problem with the radio host, in between the occasional song.

Something about the general tone and attitude of the radio hosts appalled me. They were taking advantage of some naive or misguided caller with a problem and generally making fun of them on air, subjecting them to a sardonic ridicule.

I switched it off, appalled. The general nastiness of that radio show and its host was something which I, as someone who had gotten out of the habit of listening to the radio routinely around 1990, was shocked by.

Which is a good way of segueing into the news about the temper tantrum thrown on live radio earlier this week by shock jock Kyle Sandilands, who, over a trivial matter (a discussion of a news story) engaged in a 12 minute expletive laden tirade at his co-workers, Jackie O (his regular on air partner in crime) and the newsreader.

I was not surprised about this. The general reputation of Mr Sandilands is that he and his side kick are shock jocks. His lack of on air empathy when interviewing a sexual assault survivor several years ago resulted in a minor career speed bump in that he was sacked from being a judge on Australian Idol – but this did not retard his general career trajectory for long.

But this does lead me to wonder why such people still get so much oxygen on the air waves? There obviously is a profitable market causing Kyle and Jackie O to be eagerly sought after media personalities, despite their nastiness. and general bitterness about the world (although lack of money is not a cause) and general toxicity Why is there such a market?

Obviously, and it is sad to say, that despite the general dislikability of these shock jocks, we love to hate them, and that people generally tune in to listen to them because they are rather nasty, and people relish their nastiness. As a result, they remain on air instead of staking supermarket shelves.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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