This post was first published on news.com.au on 19 February 2018. See the original here.
Kyle Sandilands had no idea what he was doing when he demanded he be paid $1 million in the early 2000s, but somehow he managed to pull it off.
Kyle Sandilands has opened up about how he negotiated his first million dollar radio contract.
He’s now paid between $4-5 million per year for hosting the KIIS FM breakfast show with Jackie O, but back in 2004 he was earning roughly $255,000 to host the national drive show on the Hit Network.
At the time, comedian Judith Lucy was hosting the 2Day FM breakfast show in Sydney with Kaz Cooke, Peter Helliar and Jamie Angel. But the show was a disaster and was nowhere near as successful as the station’s previous breakfast show hosted by Wendy Harmer.
Desperate to turn the ratings around, 2Day FM bosses moved Kyle and Jackie O into the lucrative breakfast gig at the start of 2005 and Sandilands sensed an opportunity for a big payday.
“Once we got it [the breakfast slot], I had to do the negotiation with the CEO for the money,” Sandilands told Craig Bruce on the Game Changers: Radio podcast.
“I walked in and put my hands on my hips and said: ‘We want $1 million each,’ and he laughed. And I said: ‘That’s what Wendy and them were getting.’ And he said: ‘Well I’m not going to go into what they were getting.’ And that’s when I thought they were getting more than $1 million each.
“I said: ‘If I could give you the number one ratings it would be worth a million dollars each.’ And he went: ‘Yeah, but you can’t guarantee me that.’ And that’s when I said: ‘OK, we’ll keep the same money and as soon as we go number one we’re on a million dollars each’.”
At that stage the breakfast show’s ratings were in the toilet and it can take years for a show to start to dominate, so the CEO agreed.
“Well I think three months later he was getting the cheque book out!” Sandilands said.
Rather miraculously, the Kyle and Jackie O show became the number one FM breakfast show in Sydney in 2006, a year after they started.
Kyle and Jackie O started working together in 2000 on the Hot 30 Countdown. By then Jackie O was already an established star as she’d hosted the show for a few years with Ugly Phil, but Sandilands was relatively unknown.
When Sandilands replaced Ugly Phil, one of his radio bosses took him aside and gave him some advice for his first show as co-host of the Hot 30.
“He said to me: ‘Just don’t say f**k and you’ll be right’,” Sandilands said on the Game Changers: Radio podcast.
“And I wrote that down on a bit of paper ... And I thought, ‘that’s it? That one sentence?’”
When the show started, a very nervous Sandilands managed to shock his co-host from the outset.
“Jackie comes on and I thought: ‘I’m on, I can’t believe it.’ And she introduced me and I just said [live on air]: ‘Look, I’ve spoken to the boss and apparently if I don’t say f**k everything will be fine.’
“She died,” Sandilands said. “Her whole skin changed colour. She was horrified and I thought it was excellent.”
Kyle and Jackie O have dominated the FM radio ratings in Sydney for more than a decade and are currently the number one FM breakfast show. They’re contracted with KIIS FM until the end of 2021.