Josh Szeps has a history of giving his ABC Sydney listeners content that is a little bit different and often more challenging than they might get on other programs on the broadcaster.
Today he really made his ABC Sydney (and into other markets around the state) sit up as he dropped details of his resignation just before the 3pm news.
While acknowledging how lucky he had been to be working at the ABC, he fired a shot across its bows noting the restraint he felt trying to work within its guidelines.
‘Having bullshit-free conversations is risky’
Szeps told his listeners, “Having truly rational, bullshit-free conversations about controversial issues is risky these days. The penalties for speaking bluntly, the penalties for trying to coax people out of their thought silos and their echo chambers are very high.
‘The fact that it’s risky only makes it more important to me. The fact I have found a way of doing it independently that is financially viable leads me to the question that I have been mulling over ever since chatter about the 2024 [ABC] line-up began.”
Szeps said he asked himself where he is the most use to the national conversation.
“If you’re a regular listener, you know me. You know I am the kid who gets invited to Christmas lunch and then starts talking to people I’m advised not to talk to. Like Uncle Herbie who might have voted for Pauline Hanson. Maybe all I do is make the prim and proper partygoers uncomfortable, but that is not my intention. My hope is that by understanding Uncle Herbie’s point of view I might better understand my own.
“Maybe there’s value in consciously defying bubbles of conversational safety.”
Josh Szeps: He didn’t fit the ABC
Szeps continued: “I’m a misfit. I’m a child of refugees, but I’m a white Australian. I’m a gay guy, but I hate Mardi Gras. I have holocaust surviving grandparents but I’m conflicted about Zionism. I’m an ABC presenter but I don’t like kale.
“I am a riddle wrapped in a bloody enigma. If you think that being a team player is the highest virtue, good for you. But don’t pretend to be a journalist. Journalism needs more contrarians, not fewer. More risk takers, not fewer.
“We need more people like Andrew Ollie, and John Pilger, and Mike Carlton, and Helen Lewis, and John Stewart, and Germaine Greer, and Christopher Hitchens.”
What’s next for Szeps
Szeps is starting out to expand his own brand. He currently broadcasts the podcast Uncomfortable Conversations and he is planning a YouTube program coming early in 2024.
Szeps currently operates a subscription platform at joshszeps.com that offers a free tier and then options for more content at prices that range from $110 annually to $390.
Szeps is also embarking on a live talk circuit with promoter Paul Dainty. This sounds like the business that Dainty planned to launch with Foxtel’s Brian Walsh before Walsh’s sudden death earlier this year.
Szeps will be staying with the ABC until the end of 2023.