Watch out, Melbourne – Sydney’s radio cyclone is about to make landfall

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During Wednesday’s show, shortly before announcing they had signed a mammoth $200 million deal to stay on the air together for another 10 years, Kyle and Jackie O were speaking to a listener, “Mitch”, about his deepest sexual fantasy.

It involved bringing a 21-piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken into the bedroom, eating it, and slapping his wife on the backside with some drumsticks during intercourse. Naturally, they called the wife to get her thoughts (she was lukewarm on the idea, for those playing at home).

The duo have signed a $200 million deal to stay on the air together for another 10 years.

Regular listeners in Sydney would have been entertained but not shocked. This is fairly standard material for the city’s most popular breakfast radio program, where sex is always on the brain and innuendo is core.

It’s not to everybody’s taste – even radio legend John Laws appeared to baulk at the vulgarity just this week – but there is no doubting its success. Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson have been broadcasting together for more than 20 years, and are still breaking ratings records.

And now they are embarking on a whole new chapter, with the show to be broadcast in Melbourne, on KIIS FM, for the first time. Cyclone KJ is about to make landfall in the garden state.

On the face of it, it seems wrong. The Kyle and Jackie O Show has always been more brawn than brain. More rugby league than AFL. More Los Angeles than New York. Indeed, more Sydney than Melbourne.

So Sydney it hurts: Kyle Sandilands, photographed for a profile in the Australian Financial Review magazine.Credit: Nic Walker

Australia’s two biggest cities might be alike in many ways, but on others, they are just different. Radio has always been a case-in-point. Sydney is Alan Jones, Melbourne is Eddie McGuire. Sydney is Ray Hadley, Melbourne is Neil Mitchell. Sydney is Richard Glover, Melbourne is Jon Faine.

Despite growing up in Queensland, Sandilands and Henderson are products of the Emerald City. Their sensibilities are Sydney, as are their points of reference. The show’s whole vibe is harbour cruise on a sunny day, not moody wine bar on a rainy night. Sandilands does wear a lot of black, though.

The hardest part for modest Melburnians to absorb, as they drive to work or to drop the kids off, might be the brashness. Sandilands in particular loves to gloat about his expensive cars and famous friends. Coming from a poor, difficult childhood, he unashamedly celebrates money and success. When the show topped the ratings in June with a 17.9 per cent audience share, he called their competitors “pathetic” and claimed to have a massive hard-on.

“If we pull a 20 [per cent] share, I’ll jerk it off live on air,” he said. How this all goes down in the supposedly staid, understated refines of the Victorian capital, we shall see.

Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson with their KIIS FM team.

Truth be told, it will probably work fine. The program is pitched at tradies in the suburbs, not latte sippers and macchiato makers in Collingwood and Fitzroy. Most of the content is about celebrities, or sex, or games where listeners can win prizes. On Thursday, the prime minister is due to appear. Nothing about that is particularly parochial.

Sandilands pointed out on Wednesday the show already has thousands of listeners in Melbourne – and other places – through the iHeart online app.

The show will cut through in any marketplace because – love it or loathe it – the banter has a free-flowing, unscripted and (somewhat) uncensored quality you will struggle to find on other FM stations. In a recent Australian Financial Review profile of Sandilands, Alan Jones said the shtick worked because it was genuine, “spontaneous” broadcasting.

It is trashy, but it’s fun – and that has universal appeal, whether you’re in Penrith or Preston.

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