My Australian Job Interview
August 9, 2010
Yesterday, on my weekly radio show over WABC, New York, I managed to have one of the most spirited and most listened to programs since I began the Sunday noontime show on September 13, 2009.
People like you have been e-mailing me from everywhere. You are doing that because you enjoyed the show.
I learned a long time ago that for telephone talk radio to be truly successful, it must not shy away from controversial issues.
I remember a telephone call I received in the early 1980s from an American who had been my general manager when I was broadcasting in Los Angeles. He had been to Australia as a consultant to the Australian Radio Network.
The primary reason they hired him was because of his reputation here in the United States. His name was Jack Thayer and in addition to being one of the most creative executives in the broadcast business, he was also the most decent, honorable men I had the privilege of working for.
We had somewhat of a mutual admiration society because he regarded me as one of his best all-time performers.
Jack told me that he was asked by the Australians if he could pry me loose from my radio station in the states and accept a role on the Australian Radio Network.
Jack persuaded me to at least look into their offer and make up my mind after I had an opportunity to check out the scene “down under.” The next thing I knew I was taking United Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles, and a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia.
It was one of the most enjoyable flights I had ever taken even though it was a long flight including a stopover in Honolulu. Not only was the flight in first class, but the crew must have thought I was some VIP because they couldn’t do enough for me.
But, the main reason I enjoyed the flight as much as I did was the excitement of possibly becoming the star of the Australian Radio Network. The Aussies greeted me at the airport and seemed very excited that I had come to look into the possibility of joining their crew.
They showed me their facilities, and I spent a few days listening to their programming. At the end of the week, they took me to the yacht club for a farewell lunch and gave me a memento of the club — a navy blue tie festooned with anchors.
And, then they asked the question I had been waiting for: “Mr. Grant, what do you think? Would you accept our offer and be prepared to start after the first of the year?”
I told them I would think about it and get back to them within the week. I explained it was a big move and I had to give it a great deal of thought. They said they understood, of course, and seemed very hopeful that my answer would be yes.
So, I boarded my flight back to the United States and realized I couldn&8217;t possibly take the offer. I knew when my plane was airborne that as much as I liked the offer, the country, the people, and everything except driving on the left side of the street, I could not accept.
I could not work there because they really didn’t have the slightest notion of what it is that makes talk radio work: CONTROVERSY!
I could not sit before an open microphone for hours each day and allow some bloke to go and on and on about why he or she prefers gardening to shooting billiards.
And so as soon as I got back home I notified the contact man that I would not be accepting the job. I wrote a letter thanking them for the offer and the hospitality and I meant every word.
It was difficult saying no to such wonderful people. Do I regret not taking the deal? No, I don’t. I don’t have room for that.
There are too many things I have done or not done that fill me with regret . . . things you won’t believe if I should reveal all there is to reveal in a soon-to-come (I hope) book!
Until next time . . . STRAIGHT AHEAD!