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Waltzing Australia


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

44. Derryn Hinch - His Response

From 3AW, Derryn Hinch, 28 August 2012 - 4:13 PM

Well, there’s a song called ‘What a Difference a Day Makes’. And boy is it true in my case today.

I walked out of this studio after yesterday’s program and felt pretty good about things. And why not? We’d had a touch of nostalgia by playing some of my broadcast from 43 years ago when I reported from Cape Kennedy as Apollo 11 blasted off for the moon.

And then yesterday I scored an exclusive interview with Buzz Aldrin who had walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong, and we reminisced about that trail-blazing astronaut who died suddenly at the weekend.

As far as radio programs go it was pretty good.

But I was then called into a meeting with the station’s General Manager, Shane Healy and Program Director Clark Forbes and – I can’t be much of an investigative reporter – because they sacked me and I didn’t see it coming.

In their managerial parlance and before the real spin kicked in, they said they were not renewing my contract next year.

READ: Statement from 3AW Management on the decision to not renew Derryn Hinch’s contract

It was all very civil. I asked why and was told ‘we’re taking the station in a different direction’. I pointed out that my Drive program was rating No. 1 in Melbourne and so the only different direction they could take it was down.

I didn’t get a real explanation for why I was being terminated, and still haven’t. I thought that was owed to me and – even more importantly – to you, the listeners.

Healy was going on Mitchell’s program to explain but then declined. And, a short time ago, turned down an invitation to come on this program.

One senior executive did say that they planned to ‘push the boundaries’. Jeez, if you pushed the boundaries any further than I have on radio and television, you’d fall off the edge. I have been to jail for causes, been fined, done community service, and done five months under house arrest for causes. And I think AW probably got tired of my causes. One exec did tell me when I came back here he hoped I wouldn’t ‘go on and on about the paedophile thing’, as if there’s a quota on stories when you are talking about protecting children.

In his press release, Shane Healy said 3AW could not afford to stand still in the midst of the ‘immense challenges of the digital revolution’ and the station must position itself to take advantage of the exciting possibilities opening up in the digital world and changing audience expectations.’

That’s funny. I’m probably the most accomplished person in social media of anybody at 3AW. I started the first internet site called Hinchwebradio twelve years ago, have more than 30,000 followers on Twitter, and my own HumanHeadline website, so that can’t be it. But I’m not going to plead my case. I don’t beg. I said during an earlier sacking on television, you can’t legislate against stupidity. And this is stupid.

Your tweets, emails and on-air reactions have been amazing and I thank you. You have followed me through a lot of ups and downs –professional, personal and physical over the years, especially the last year.

What intrigues me, in Mr Healy’s absence, is the quote about ‘changing audience expectations’. I thought your expectations included a host who tried to tell the truth, championed your causes, challenged politicians and even challenged my bosses when I thought they were wrong.

[In fairness, I should point out that this dismissal has nothing to do with my comments last week about Steve Vizard. I’ve discovered this decision was made months ago.]

It’s funny you know, radio and televisions stations have hired me for who I am and what I say. Then, they fire me for who I am and what I say.

But let’s put this into perspective. A lot of people have lost their jobs lately, my sackings just happen very publicly.

Last night having a subdued dinner with my wife Chanel, my visiting sister Barbara and brother-in-law, Les Swanson, and Shannon Reid, my stalwart producer, I told them to keep one thing in mind.

A year ago I didn’t think I’d even be alive for 12 months down the track to even get fired.

At management’s request, this is my last day on air for a while. I’ll be back late next month to fulfil my contract. I’ll do it to the best of my ability, you wouldn’t expect anything less of me and I wouldn’t accept anything less.

So let’s use the corny signature line… ‘That’s life’ and let’s get on with it.

FOOTNOTE: I said I mustn’t be much of an investigative reporter because I didn’t see it coming, I was blindsided. Should not have been, in retrospect. Earlier this year, without even telling me, management cancelled our annual 3AW Variety Bike-a-thon. Guess that’s part of the ‘change of direction’, even though we’ve given away 10,000 bikes to needy kids over the Christmases. I protested and it will be on next month on the Drive program, only.

That lack of respect should have told me something. Also I heard that my able fill-in, Tom Elliott, had been overheard telling someone at Channel Ten several months ago that ‘this is Hinch’s last year’ and he was replacing me.

I dismissed it as the wishful thinking of an ambitious young man. I was wrong. The decision to sack me was made in June.

Final point: A former director of 3AW’s owners [not former radio chief Graham Mott] told me today that he had always believed 3AW could never be destroyed from the outside; Any destruction would come from within.

Maybe he was right. As I said: You can’t legislate against stupidity.

The man who is the replacement
Above: Tom Elliott

I am shocked and saddened and yes angry to hear of Derryn's sacking.
I can see no good coming from the Healy decision but what can we expect from one who sprouts such rigmarole as, "3AW, Melbourne's most successful radio station of the modern era, must position itself to take advantage of the exciting possibilities opening up in the digital world and changing audience expectations"?

Healy is bringing a once proud radio station down through his and others bombastic stupidity. How he ever reached the position he has is quite beyond my understanding. I have heard Elliott before when he was a fill-in and always switched off because I think he's pathetic and terribly, terribly boring - I didn't like listening to him before or the way he "ran" the program when he was on in the past filling in and I won't be listening him this time around. Derryn's absence will create a big void in my weekly afternoons - I finish work at 4.00PM and always enjoyed listening to him on the way home, then I'd race inside and switch on the radio.

While I don't always agree with Derryn's views, I admire his stand and the way he stood up for the underdog and kept pounding away where lesser mortals would have thrown in the towel.
Not only do I not understand Healy & Co, now I hear today is Hinch's last programme. What - they don't have the decency to even let him continue until the end of the year? What are they afraid of? Too many people ringing 3AW with support which makes them look bad? As my youngest son would say, "What a bunch of wankers!"

Is this 3AW's Healygate?

Shame, shame, shame.

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