Thursday 23 April 2009

Sleazy Listening, Eight Four Sux

John McKenzie's 846 AM may well command the talk of the town on local talk-back radio, but they never wanted to be the actual news story.

In this morning's opening monologue, McKenzie said he will not comment about the commercial arrangement between his radio station and Cairns Regional Council.

He said there were "a lot of inaccuracies in the Cairns Post article. I found it rather amusing."

Back in March 2008, McKenzie says, Council vowed to have a representative on the show each Wednesday. "It was difficult to run the show because Councillors continually failed to turn up for interviews," John McKenzie told he listeners.

"There was nothing personal for the reason why she [the Mayor] was not on the show last year. I needed a guarantee that Councillors would turn up for interviews so I could run this show," McKenzie said.

"As a result, the station set up an arrangement with Cairns Regional Council."

Former Mayor, Kevin Byrne claimed today that that there was nothing paid for when he was mayor. "It was very popular and I understand 4CA had no trouble selling that hour." However, sponsors were never sold once during the hour during while Byrne on air, McKenzie said today.

"I repeatedly attempted to contact the Mayor last year over various issues but she would refuse to comment." However this is at odds with some Councillors' observation, who say approaches to his show are obstructive and often condescending.

The Mayor had tried to get on the show, to suit her style and setting her own agenda, but this was not at all welcomed by McKenzie. The Mayor was told on a number of occasions in the first few months, often at the last minute, that 846AM didn't want her and subsequently cancelled due to some nebulous reason.

Three attempts were made to broker an arrangement to get the Mayor on McKenzie's show. The first by Gary Schofield, then by Kerie Hull, and finally, by media officer Sonja Anderson. All were unsuccessful. However, just a couple of months ago, a deal was sorted out between Hull and the station's chief at 846am, but it came at a price, close to $26,000.

"Our station has always had a sizable commercial arrangement with Cairns Council," McKenzie pointed out. "If the former Cairns City Council decided to move all of its advertising spend across to another commercial radio station, they would not have continued the hour for the mayor."

McKenzie says the relationship with having the new Mayor on his show, came to an end because he could not get the consistency from the Councillors to turn up every week.

"This has nothing to do with the commercial arrangement between the station and Council, but I assure you it is not unusual."

McKenzie says advertisers on his show pay up to $150 a minute, and the quoted $20,000 works out to be $5 - $10 a minute, "which is almost free."

The fact that there is no disclaimer advising listeners that Councillors are taking part in a commercial paid comment spot, is meaningless, McKenzie says.

"The Queensland Government regularly advertise on 4CA Radio, and if that were the case, I would have to make a claim every time I speak to a Queensland or Federal MP."

"This is one way politicians get their message across to their audience. Schier's segment is popular with listeners," he says.

In the Council lift this afternoon, Sonja Anderson told Councillor Robert Pyne that she saw no reason why paying for the Mayor to be on radio was inappropriate. "What's wrong with this? There is nothing wrong with supporting commercial radio like this," Sonja Anderson said.

McKenzie says they came to a 'financial arrangement' because they are commercial and need the money to keep the station running.

Cash for comments, indeed. Open and honest, not on your nelly. Something awfully sux about all this.


Cairns Resident said...

What John McKenzie fails to realise is that an advertisement is 15-30 secs of hard sell that we the general public can identify immediately as ads.

By his logic, every second of every minute of every hour is an ad - including his fumbling, the pregnant pauses and strangely the time used by the callers. Hard to see that the time on air of an irate ratepayer is actually advertising for CRC.

But then John, if it "almost free", and if that is that is how 4CA regards the "fee", then why not demonstrate community awareness, community committment etc and make it actually free?

Another McKenzie Victim said...

This is the most despicable story I've heard. I am aware of several complaints filed with the ABA, now called ACMA, on McKenzie's racist commentary as well as previous "cash for comment" incidents.

One of these "cash for comment" complaints concerned his vociferous defense of Villa Romana's expropriation of public footpath. We all are aware of McKenzie's relationship with Villa Romana.

John McKenzie "rents" his show time from the station owners (Prime), and then sells advertising for his income. There are persistent rumours from CBD business owners that they are required to provide him with "perks" that allow him to duck income tax.

For council to play into this weasel's games - it's time for some sackings to occur.

Fiona Tulip said...

Another disgraceful scandal involving our Council, Councillors and Council employees.

I hope Desley Boyle is going to do more that just get that big stick out (Cairns Post 23/4)). She needs to start pushing a few people off their high well paid perches.

She can start with the CEO, Noel who knew nothing, but ignorance is no excuse, Kerrie for arranging the cash for comment deal, which clearly is seen by most people as a gross conflict of interest and improper behaviour, and then Sno for being being somehow involved in this plot to deceive and implicate the Mayor!

Back in 2006, Sno made some very defammatory and untrue statements on the same radio program (4CA)in his capacity as Councillor, about a community organisation on the Northern Beaches, the CBCA. The Association wrote to 4CA and asked nicely for an apology - and we were told to take a hike. So to get the apology, the Assocation complained to the Australian Broadcasting Authority and we complained that:
1. the statement made by Councillor Bonneau was factually untrue
2. the subject matter was provocative and the station made no attempt to verify the truth of the statement and,
3. having been made aware of the untrue allegations, that the station took no action.

The trascript obtained by the Assocaiton showed that there was no opportunity for anybody hearing the broadcast to respond to the councillors wild accusations, and the broadcast was terminated immediately after the statement was made.

In due course, Councillor Bonneau made his public apology in the Cairns Post, but it was like drawing blood out of a stone or pulling teeth.

All is not well in the state of Denmark, either then with CCC running the airwaves supposedly for free, nor it would seem now, with Councillors being allowed to have paid air time in which they can insult, intimidate and cast aspersions about individuals or groups in our community who may have valid reasons for disagreeing with their poor performance on local issues.

Jude Johnston said...

We are currently in Noo Zulind celebrating Pete's "big birthday" with our Kids and have just caught up with the latest Blogs.

How dare Councillor Bonneau and the other anti community Councillors, go on the Council Funded, OUR RATES, Radio Show and use it as a platform to denigrate genuine community concerns. If Minister Boyle is to have credibility in her new/old Portfolio, heads should and must roll. That CEO`Briggs claims no knowledge of these arrangements indicates that he is unaware of what is happening within his sphere of responsibility, the Prime duty of anyone in his position. That alone warrants his resignation.

On a different note, Golfers, if you wanna play a golf course Kauri Cliffs is the ultimate.