Radio Today
Staff Writer

Anonymous Confessions: Is radio ready for its own #metoo campaign?

A light has been shone on a culture of bullying, harassment and sexual assault within the entertainment industry.

Allegations that were made against movie producer Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates and a cavalcade of stars have been ‘outed’ as serial offenders.

This week, it struck a little closer to home with allegations made against Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush and celebrity gardener Don Burke, who didn’t help his cause during an interview on A Current Affair.

It must be remembered, though, that none of the allegations have been tested in court and they remain just accusations.

But what we are seeing is a willingness to talk about what used to be hushed up and swept under the carpet. The online #metoo campaign has empowered women to come forward and speak out.

Yet, there have been no allegations levelled against those working within Australian radio. Not on a large scale, anyway.

But it would be naïve to believe that this hasn’t been happening within our industry. So why aren’t we speaking up and speaking out?

Is it just women who’ve copped it or have men been victimized as well?

Is it an unspoken threat of ‘never working in the industry again’ that buys our silence? Do we need a #metooradio movement to flush out the creeps and the bullies?

Or perhaps mandatory compliance sessions and pro-active HR departments cleaned up the industry. Maybe senior management is no longer willing to tolerate poor behaviour.

Perhaps there’s no place where people have felt comfortable to speak out.

Radio Today has decided to create a ‘safe place’ for anyone to call out any inappropriate behaviour. Experiences can be detailed anonymously in the comments section below.

However, they will be monitored and we ask that respect is shown to those who have something to say. The comments may also be edited to comply with the law.

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Recent comments (45)
Anonomous
4 Dec 2017 - 8:35 am

Nice one radio today this could open up a can of worms. The silence from the radio sector has been deafening. Good to give the industry this forum though.

Anonomous
4 Dec 2017 - 8:47 am

There was this one guy a General manager in a regional NSW market who used to not only fart in meetings but would rub or ‘ scratch ‘ himself you know where. It was offensive and gross and clearly directed at the younger female staff who were present. He was clearly getting off on it. Thankfully he was eventually sacked probably because he didn’t meet budget not because of the ongoing board room incidents which were largely overlooked.

Anonomous
4 Dec 2017 - 8:48 am

A program director once detailed the casual sexism, “horseplay” (which involved specific descriptions of sexual assault passed off as pranks and how funny it was to invade women’s personal space), and what would be called “locker room talk” which exists at his station. He then went to tell me that he only hired people who would feel comfortable working in such an environment, refusing to hire women who look like they would complain. Not that he was working to fix that toxic culture, but that anyone who might challenge such a culture just wouldn’t get hired.

Tell me this shit isn’t fucking systematic.

Bob
4 Dec 2017 - 9:41 am

Yes! We are all complicit. We have all seen it, turned a blind eye, accepted a culture of sexualization and appalling cover-ups. Bravo Radio Today for starting the conversation.

Pete
4 Dec 2017 - 10:57 am

Houston do we really have a problem? The radio industry has been very proactive in ensuring inappropriate behaviour has been stamped out. Ive not seen anything in the past few years that Id call inappropriate in fact radio is so pc these days.

Anonymous
4 Dec 2017 - 11:51 am

It’s an interesting one. Plenty of casual sexism in every industry really, hardly confined to just radio.

I’m sure there’s hundreds of historical stories. I’m hopeful that in recent years compliance and strengthened HR departments and stronger laws in general have contributed to workplaces where this is stamped out completely or has been extremely curbed.

What goes on behind closed doors though, it’s hard to say.

Tris
4 Dec 2017 - 12:23 pm

Is this the best forum for this discussion? I would of thought people talking to their Human Resource function would be the ‘safe space’.

Anon
4 Dec 2017 - 1:17 pm

Who then is the Don Burke of radio ?

D.J
4 Dec 2017 - 1:20 pm

In my experience, in metro FM stations anyway, there is a BIG problem. @Pete, you say you have not seen anything in the past few years that you’d call inappropriate? What about prior to that? Historically or present, it is not (and never was) okay to objectify, sexualise, harass or abuse women (and men!). It’s just now we are talking about it and generally accept, as humans, we need to respect each other and their boundaries. It is those within power (content directors and HR departments) that need to be held to account. It is not my story to tell but I hope the victims I know feel safe and brave enough to call out abuse cases and perhaps even more important, the cover-ups from HR departments who, as @Tris says, should be a safe space.

Anonymous
4 Dec 2017 - 1:34 pm

Lol, HR departments…I know of at least one network that has told it’s staff that the one single HR employee is for management to consult with, and if staff have any concerns they can consult the OH&S document on the local intranet.
That sort of approach will have driven a lot of complaints deep down!

The Lazy Gardener
4 Dec 2017 - 2:44 pm

@ Anon 4 Dec 2017 – 1:17 pm.
I’m not sure any of this type of behavior has been displayed or tolerated during the past 20 years in radio?
If so,if you are or have been a victim please reach out.
I know back in the day several high powered Programme Directors loved cute,young males on the DJ roster but the relationships appeared to be mutual.I also witnessed the attractive “wanna bes” driving promotional vehicles handing out icy cold cans who felt obliged to do whatever to repay and to maintain the so called privilege of doing so.You know who you.Reach out if you need.

TheT
4 Dec 2017 - 2:52 pm

The problem with radio is that it is stuck in the stone age- and the people who could get away with inappropriate behaviour in a bygone era still hold positions of power (and still believe they are immune to common decency).
Too many times I’ve seen appalling behaviour excused as “oh, that’s just John Doe- that’s what he’s like”.
And by appalling behaviour I don’t just mean demeaning women- I mean acting in a way to anyone that in any other industry just wouldn’t happen.

anonomous
4 Dec 2017 - 6:26 pm

There’s a good one over here in *City*. A ‘ well respected ‘ radio exec who for decades has said and done whatever he wants. It surprises me what some people get away with.

Anon
4 Dec 2017 - 6:57 pm

No one’s going to say anything. Men outnumber women in the industry and they’re all too powerful.

Sure you could make a complaint…but suffer the consequences of not getting promoted or never working again.

Simple fact of the matter: if you are a woman in commercial radio – get used to the wandering hands and inappropriate comments. Learn to live with it. Or go work somewhere else. Also, be prepared to work twice as hard as men who are half as talented as you.

I wish it wasn’t the case but it is.

Anon
4 Dec 2017 - 7:28 pm

Agree with TheT.
Have heard things that wouldnt fly elsewhere. Not saying all networks (or stations) are like this, but havent always felt entirely comfortable as a female with certain types.

Paul
4 Dec 2017 - 8:03 pm

I reported a colleague for doing something inappropriate in the back studio – it was also something that was illegal. The manager did nothing.
The colleague in question had had many complaints made about him by other colleagues and listeners which, in many cases, have simply gone unanswered.
The PD and Group PD have also issued many directives to this person about content and conduct during his show, many of them basic or rookie errors…virtually all have been ignored or over-ridden by the manager.
My situation escalated with a degree of bullying and harassment, and then personal items and work related material of mine started going missing. Again, little to nothing was done by the manager.
The final straw was when I discovered that it appeared the manager, possibly in collusion with the aforementioned colleague, had made up a vile allegation about myself, presumably in an attempt to discredit me to the station owner.
Mine has not been the only workers compensation case to be brought in the past year at the radio station in question and I would suggest it won’t be the last.

Emma
4 Dec 2017 - 10:02 pm

I wrote an opinion piece on this very subject over the weekend:

“For the people who say ‘Why didn’t they talk up sooner?’ or ‘They must be gold diggers’ those dammed if they do, dammed if they don’t attitudes is why so many people stay quiet. Abuse thrives on silence and if someone is strong enough to speak out, the least they deserve is to be heard fairly.” – https://www.hot91.com.au/emma/77137-an-opinion-piece-on-the-sexual-harassment-scandals-rocking-the-entertainment-industry

anonymous
5 Dec 2017 - 7:39 am

I know one guy who has frequently made sexual innuendo jokes about a gay colleague. This persons in a senior role and in the past it’s just been tolerated along the lines of ‘ oh that’s just X you know what he’s like ‘ Time to Call out this behaviour.

Anon
5 Dec 2017 - 7:50 am

We all know of instances of sexual misconduct by senior executives in the radio industry. Fact is if the accused is successful and wields power then nothing will be done about it. The allegations don’t get taken seriously. It is uncomfortable at times but it’s the way of the world of Radio I’m afraid.

The Evening News
5 Dec 2017 - 9:36 am

To be honest, I know some people who should not be working because of their conduct and complaints made about them.

Sometimes it’s about saving embarrassment for the company (it seems).

I know people who have quit in part, or solely because of particular conduct that is inappropriate.

To me, it seems men in this industry tend to hold more power, no matter the literal hierarchy.

It’s a really hard one to tackle in my opinion. The worst offenders tend to be older and come from a different time. That by no means makes it okay, but as we’ve seen from comments by the likes of Laws and recently with Kirk Pengilly, attitudes towards women have changed in a huge way over the past 30 or 40 years. Younger people in the industry I find tend to be more respectful of boundaries and consent, and overall tend to find it easier to deal with compliance (not all young people of course).

We should provide safe environments for women to come forward, to share their experiences, and for allegations to be taken seriously regardless of the power hold. HR departments are not for the benefit of the employee, and that makes it ever harder.

Sometimes it’s difficult (at best) to ‘re-train’ people who spent much of their adulthood in a society that saw women as nothing but sexual objects. That doesn’t mean we should accept that behaviour. We should make examples of these people and get rid of them in the same way the movie industry has. Otherwise we’re doomed to have history repeat itself.

No-one, regardless of ratings, has the right to behave that way. Some of Hollywood’s household names have had their careers ruined. I say good. How else will we rid ourselves of this scourge if we keep allowing totally unacceptable behaviour just for the sake of ratings?

If you can’t rate unless you put a team of these people in charge and on-air, then you shouldn’t be running a radio station.

An Anon Woman
5 Dec 2017 - 9:44 am

I’ve read comments from various members of the radio industry in other forums and everytime allegations are leveled at these celebrities – You know who always defends the perpetrator and blames the victim? Middle aged heterosexual white men.

And I don’t mean to lump everyone who fits that demographic into the same sweeping generalisation, because it’s certainly not true that everyone in that demographic doesn’t recognise a problem. My point is that the men who loudly state there is no problem are the ones who are defending the culture they’ve helped create.

The last 5 – 10 years, most radio networks have implemented HR departments and policies that make the workplace ‘safer’. But you don’t have to go back very far to find sexual harrassment running rife. Has it improved? Yes. Is it enough? No. Just because a perpetrator is now educated enough to not expose his junk at a friday afternoon party, doesn’t mean that the inappropriateness has dissolved. The perpetrators have gotten smarter. They know how to hide. They choose moments with no witnesses. They only confide their inappropriate comments with ‘budddies’ who share the same view.

Those middle aged heterosexual white men are the ones in positions of power in radio. Women in radio work harder, often for less pay, than most of their male counterparts. Women have to find a way to balance their ‘personality’ so as not to emasculate their male colleagues and bosses. All the while, ignoring the sexism and sometimes downright creepy glances and touches of their colleagues.

As a woman what happens if you say something? Not even just about sexual harrassment, but also general harrassment, bullying or pay parity… HR get involved, all the procedures are followed, you get your chance to ‘have your say’, in fact everything looks like it’s ok and taken care of – until there’s a problem with the budget around contract renewal time and “sorry but we just can’t keep you on” Or “Thanks for everything, but we’re making your position redundant to expand the role. Which you aren’t qualified for.” And who gets the new job? A white heterosexual man.

Women have worked hard to get the positions they have in radio. We’re all afraid if we become the whistleblower we also blow our career.

Anonymous
5 Dec 2017 - 11:49 am

There are two people I can think of who are narcissistic, cruel bullies who intimidate and treat like s#^t both men and women. Because of those two people alone I have watched many good people starting out decide to leave the industry thinking it is not worth it or had to uproot and move somewhere else to stay in it. I have watch many stand up for themselves, put in complaints and nothing happens. One is best mates/butt kisser to the GM and the other IS a GM. There is another one, a PD, who has been sacked for harassment before but hasn’t learnt and has even threatened colleagues with violence. At best they get the boot from one place/network then get hired by another. There has been a chorus of people who have complained but it seems this time around the rest of us can be replaced, not them. I wish anyone luck if they are brave enough to take a stand.

No name
5 Dec 2017 - 1:06 pm

A certain long standing breakfast announcer has been known to be very sexist in front of his female staff. And Im not talking about Kyle by the way.

Anonomous
5 Dec 2017 - 2:04 pm

There’s one senior programming exec at one of the big networks that has had more than a ‘ romantic interest ‘ in several staff members. He still has a job.

Anon
5 Dec 2017 - 2:42 pm

Bang on!!!

Anonymous
5 Dec 2017 – 11:49 am

Not so shocked jock
5 Dec 2017 - 3:22 pm

Know at least one producer at a major network who can’t control his drink and feels the need to make his interest known to the vast majority of women in the workplace.

Also talent who has a known history of misconduct at the christmas party.

James
5 Dec 2017 - 3:27 pm

Pete? Radio has been proactive in stamping out bad behaviour? You have to be kidding! The behaviour of certain executives is truly appalling – especially when they’re on the jungle juice. At least two culprits in our industry, with psychopathic tendencies, at C-level are an absolute disgrace. Then again, more often than not, the rot does start at the top.

Kiri
5 Dec 2017 - 3:30 pm

Once worked for a CEO whose favourite line was “the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”. Lets just say, he’s done a hell of a lot of walking (past). And still has a job.

Anonymous
5 Dec 2017 - 3:32 pm

Unfortunately there is more than one Don Burke in radio.

Anonymous
5 Dec 2017 - 3:36 pm

Can of worms indeed. Do not think for a moment that said behaviour relates to only women. There are a few VERY high ranking men in our industry known to hit on men.

The Evening News
5 Dec 2017 - 5:21 pm

I’ll also add that if you include general bullying, it seems rather rampant at some stations & networks. I’ve seen and experienced bullying that has made others quit, and I’ve nearly quit due to it.

Seems in radio everyone gets a pass. It’s one of those industries where you never know when a bridge you burn will come back to bite you, especially if you’re early in your career. Unfortunately, sexual misconduct and bullying allegations tend to constitute ‘burning a bridge’ rather than resulting in much consequence for the accused/perpetrator.

Paul
5 Dec 2017 - 5:38 pm

Some of the things that women say to men are far worse that what men say to women. Yet when the ladies do it it’s considered funny.

Anon
5 Dec 2017 - 10:13 pm

I’ve had sexist comments thrown at me by women in radio they can be worse than men.

Anonomous
6 Dec 2017 - 7:23 am

I know of a couple of employees who left or resigned ( pushed ) from a Sydney radio network due to one executive in particular. He has form but its been swept under the carpet.

Anon
6 Dec 2017 - 9:24 am

The issue is the abuse of power – the reality is statistically this is way more prevalent by white middle aged men directed at women. By no means is this true for every circumstance obviously. Two of the most well known, are men. One outwardly homosexual, one masquerading as heterosexual, both these men are guilty of obscene sexual harassment and work place bullying of young male victims, one of them (maybe both) guilty of physical sexual assault. Fear wins, these men are sociopaths, but both still in high powered, highly paid, highly publicised positions – their bosses know, and everyone knows their bosses know. It’s just outrageous.

Anonomous
6 Dec 2017 - 10:46 am

I know of one particular bully whose backward Group CD continues to protect. It takes a very small man to belittle others constantly and with the protection of the Group CD and his right-hand man.

Jane
6 Dec 2017 - 1:28 pm

Honestly, the things we used to say/do/get away with in the 90’s and early 00’s is something you would NEVER get away with nowadays. I think its important to note that the environment in today’s radio industry is moving in the right direction.

Anonymous
6 Dec 2017 - 4:38 pm

These comments are proving the point that nothing will be done within the industry – there are so many stories about sexual harassment here, but no one willing to name names. Until names are spoken, the abusers will keep their jobs and it will keep being covered up and ignored.

Anonymous
6 Dec 2017 - 7:45 pm

I was stunned at the behaviour of a national group director over a whiteboard in a meeting room.

Berated the sales staff who were within earshot loudly demanding them to “get this out of the f***en room” and muttering f-‘s and c-‘s under his breath as they wheeled it out.

Luckily I was genuinely incompetent for the role as he suggested, and I didn’t work for him or that department. Not that I would have wanted to anyway…

Point is – some of these blokes live on another planet. In any other industry, they would be classed as deranged.

Annonymous
7 Dec 2017 - 12:50 am

This thread is fascinating, especially to those of us within the industry who are waiting for a certain someone to get what’s coming to him.

#TooMany
7 Dec 2017 - 2:04 pm

I’m male and I left a community radio station earlier this year due to the disgusting way the General Manager treated women. No fewer than 6 female volunteers claim to have been harrased by this GM, and he has reportedly harassed a number more. Some of this harrassment has been witnessed by other current and former volunteers.

Unfortunately, the Constitution of this station (which was previous kept under close guard until ACMA stepped in after a formal complaint), is written in such a way that the GM can’t be sacked, and the Board has the potential to be stacked by the GM.

Whereas paid staff in radio can (in theory) approach their station’s or network’s HR department, volunteers in community radio have no such support mechanism. Given that many community radio volunteers are from vulnerable sectors of the community, this is a serious issue that needs addressing. Who knows how many other community radio stations are currently suffering under potentially exploitative management.

Jonny Fitsgib
7 Dec 2017 - 10:28 pm

Someone mentioned earlier “But these days there is HR, unlike years back”…It’s hard when the GM of the station is the HR contact and then the next HR person up the chain is the Group Manager who protects the GM in the first place. This GM stood over a colleague of mine and said “pack ya sh*it up and F off or come back tomorrow with a new attitude” and she had done nothing wrong.

Is it just radio? No, is it more frequent in radio? Yes. I just hope that all these bad people, I hope their time comes.

Don’t let these a**holes beat you, use it to motivate you, if you can.

Anonymous
7 Dec 2017 - 11:50 pm

I worked at a very successful radio station, where in my I interview I was asked if I could handle egos and being told to Fu@k off on a regular basis.
The place was full of backstabbers.
Announcers blaming you for their mistakes and not taking responsibility for themselves. It was like looking after a baby who lost their dummy. It wasn’t just the on air talent who were ruthless, it was those behind the scenes too. I was subjected to conversations about who was sleeping with who. An announcer told everyone about a news reader who was sleeping with multiple people, and asked me when I was going to have a go. Had producers show me pictures of girls in barely nothing and ask me if I would smash any of them.
One in particular,a female producer,who was horrible to her fellow female co-workers, they were scared to stand up to her. She constantly bullied them and made them feel stupid. One day she was given a full time position on the same shift as me as my superior. She clashed with me straight away. Undermining me constantly.I made a complaint to someone higher up and said she wasn’t going to come in and get away with bullying me.
They told me that they knew she had a habit of being a bully, and they would take care of it.
The following shift she became more aggressive towards me as she had been pulled aside and spoken to. She was that enraged she started to throw around the fact that she was in charge now and everything would go through her from now on if there was a problem, and if I didn’t like it I should leave.
I told her I didn’t agree, so she got HR involved and had me fired. She made up terrible things about my character, all from having worked only a short period of time.
Lied about me to co workers all to keep herself employed. The sad fact is management knew how bad she was but the fact that I was male and she was female came into play. I told them I felt threatened by her(after they claimed she felt threatened by me)and they just laughed it off, I said “how come she can feel threatened by me but I can’t feel threatened by her”? I said to them “this is sexist” and the manager just laughed it off and was I was asked if I was stupid.
They said sex had nothing to do with it.
I was terminated and only told reasons why after I was fired.
I was never given a chance to defend myself from the horrible things she said about my character, which she made up.
The company allowed her to bully me and others and she continues to do so to this day.
It makes me wonder how she is getting away with it.

Won't Be Silenced
8 Dec 2017 - 3:20 pm

I was repeatedly sexually harassed by the GM of a community radio station. There was no complaints procedure in place, and all complaints went through him anyway. When I finally resigned he allegedly lied about why I was ‘sacked’. I then learnt I wasn’t the only one being harassed and that he was also harassing many other women. Several made complaints to the Board and were treated with great disrespect and had their memberships revoked. Others made complaints to the Police but nothing happened. A complaint was even made to either ACMA or CBAA but I believe it was not investigated. This man is also very litigious and tries to bully people into saying nothing. Whilst I don’t believe it should be open slather for people to say what they like about anyone, there HAS to be a safer way for legitimate complaints to be made.

Chris
10 Dec 2017 - 10:22 pm

There is one person in talkback radio that is the very definition of “psychotic bully”. Just about everyone knows who it is. It’s just a matter of time before someone has the balls to say the two words. His name.

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