Mel Greig responds to the news that sacked KIIS FM radio presenter, John Caldwell, is taking the Australian Radio Network to court over allegations he was bullied and discriminated against for being gay.
Each time the radio industry is surrounded by controversy the same question is asked, ‘does it have a culture problem?’ and the answer is YES.
You won’t find many radio announcers that will speak out about it because they’re either in the industry still or don’t want to black mark themselves for future roles.
Well, after 20 years in the industry I’m fine for the big black texta to come out and cross me off the list because I’d rather speak out and help the next wave of radio talent.
It pained me to see that my friend John Caldwell had to go to the extreme of taking ARN to court for bullying amongst other alleged offences.
I was there to console him after some of the incidents and no one should have to go through that level of anguish.
It astounds me that when radio networks are faced with serious allegations, they’ll almost look at you with a blank face and be genuinely confused as to why you are troubled, that’s something I experienced first-hand with the royal baby prank call in 2012.
I’ll never forget being bullied into a TV interview with one of the radio executives saying to me, ‘If you don’t do this you’ll never get to say sorry’.
At the time I was too unwell and distraught to say no, and I did want to say sorry, so I did the TV interview, but manipulation is a tactic that is often used as they know you are emotionally battered down.
I started working in the radio industry when I was 16 and it truly is a rollercoaster ride and there are so many positives BUT somewhere along the way the industry lost control.
I remember my first role in Adelaide over 15 years ago and the lack of training I received, even being told, “If you aren’t in this office everyday getting a written warning, you aren’t doing your job properly”. They wanted shock and controversy and they didn’t care how it happened.
I’m not going to sit here and say I was perfect, the bad culture rubbed off on me too and I didn’t treat everyone as well as I could have because I thought I needed to be a diva or throw my weight around to survive in the industry.
There are some big bullies working in this industry, on so many occasions I would hide in the corner to cry and then just try to shake it off and get on with it because the number one rule in radio is, “don’t be known as difficult talent”.
I often complained to my manager about bullying behaviour and I was told, “you don’t want to be known as difficult talent”.
Bullying was never taken seriously, we were made to believe it was normal. If the misconduct and bad behaviour happening in this industry was happening in any other industry, people would be fired or going through the court system or worse… facing jail time.
Yes, the radio industry has a culture problem, BUT the culture problem is surrounding a core group of executives that have been in the industry for over 20 years and don’t take the welfare of employees seriously.
Even sacking radio announcers from shows that are rating number one because they have a new flavour of the month, just disregarding people with no second thought or support.
I have worked across all networks and the only one that seems to treat their employees the way they deserve is the Nova network, they hold onto their employees and treat them well.
I still have a group of best friends from my time at Nova ten years ago.
Radio is an incredible platform, we have made so much positive change in the community and truly changed lives.
But what about the employees that give the industry their heart and soul and are then subjected to disgusting treatment and thrown away with no regard?
We all know where the culture problem has come from and to those people involved, it’s not too late to clean up this industry and make positive changes.
Words by Mel Greig