It’s 2017 and there are no female talkback radio presenters on Australian commercial radio. It’s a job women just aren’t interested in according to broadcaster Alan Jones.
The proud feminist’s comments have since been refuted by media commentators who have strived and struggled to secure jobs behind the mic.
When pressed on why women haven’t made it into the talkback sphere Jones told Ten’s Studio 10: “I just don’t know. Because women are successful wherever they want to be, so I can only assume they don’t want that. They choose other roles in the media.”
“I don’t know why, the women primarily migrate to the newsroom, they’re sleuths, so we’ve got a lot of, well, there you are, I think we’ve got the best newsreader in the country,” the host of 2GB’s top rating breakfast radio show said.
Television and radio presenter Susie Elelman hit back at the veteran announcer’s assumption saying she has spent years lobbying radio bosses for her own show and 2GB – renowned for its outspoken and opinionated hosts like Jones and Ray Hadley – is a “sexist boys’ club”.
“I can assure you I have tried, and tried and tried. I’ve been on air at 2GB since 1994, on and off, I had my own show in 2000 for a year before Singo [2GB’s majority owner John Singleton] moved the whole lot of us out and bought Alan and everyone else in,” she said.
“I’ve just finished six years on midnight to dawn, it is the most sexist boys’ club I have ever come across in my entire life. I can’t begin to tell you how sexist it is. The news director, and I know she won’t mind me saying this, actually actively employs women in the newsroom to try and balance up the voices.
“I have tried to traverse that tidal wave of testosterone that dominates commercial talkback radio and I’ve put in submission after submission, that had sponsorships attached to it, and I have been ignored.
“Every manager and every program director I’ve ever worked with on radio, talkback radio, has said, ‘Nobody especially women, wants to hear women on radio’, that’s their catch-cry.”
Elelman claims she approached management at 2GB about the lack of female representation on air and was told: “You do have the option of resigning.”
Elelman quit her regular weekend mid-dawn show last year, signing off with: “While I’m leaving my Saturday overnight gig I have boldly put my hand up to host any other radio shift during the day or night that finishes before midnight.”
Former Ardent Leisure chief executive and magazine publisher Deborah Thomas, who hosted a Sunday morning program on 2GB in 2010, echoed Elelman’s experiences.
It is the most sexist boys club I have ever come across in my entire life.
Susie Elelman, former 2GB broadcaster
“I too had a show on 2GB for a year … Despite ratings and revenue increases, replaced by a guy and told women don’t work on radio,” she tweeted.
I too had a show on 2GB for a year early Sunday am. Despite ratings & revenue increases, replaced by a guy & told women don’t work on radio.
— Deborah Thomas (@DeborahThomas10)
September 7, 2017
Journalist Jo Casamento also weighed in on Jones’ comments saying her regular segment on 2GB’sThe Chris Smith Show is unpaid.
“The problem is, no one is prepared to put money into women on radio,” Casamento said.
Despite her rebuttal to his comments, Elelman counts Jones as an ally and “adores” him.
“It was Alan that went on numerous occasions to bat for me with management,” Elelman said. “I wish there were more people like Alan on radio and maybe more women like me would get a look in a bit more.”
2GB is run by Macquarie Media which also controls Talking Lifestyle Radio in Sydney, top-rating Melbourne station 3AW and Brisbane’s 4BC.
The station has been approached for comment.
Fairfax Media, publisher of this website, is a majority owner of 2GB.