Sydney’s WSFM breakfast presenter Brendan “Jonesy” Jones credits himself for his on-air pairing with Amanda Keller. However, he gives his co-host credit for saving his career.
Jones joined WSFM from Triple M in 2003, despite having a strong negative opinion about it. In a recent chat with Mediaweek, Jones remembered the ARN-owned station as a “horrible hillbilly place”.
“I sold my soul to the devil,” he said.
2WS wasn’t doing well and its breakfast was bombing. Jones had been contracted for three years in that timeslot. He hated the first year at 2WS so much that he wanted to quit radio.
“I never wanted to leave radio until that time, Jones said. “The 2003-2004 year, before Amanda came on, was my hardest time ever in radio.”
Jones’s breakfast co-host was leaving in 2004 and the management was looking at building its breakfast audience. Jones had one piece of advice for them: “Hire Amanda Keller and pay her what she wants. If we get her, we will go #1 next year, and if we don’t then I will leave.”
Jones had wanted to work with Keller since her days at Triple M. She was on the breakfast shift with Andrew Denton. Jones had filled in for Denton for about a week.
“I had done enough shows by then to know that this one was truly special,” Jones said. “From that point it was another four or five years before we actually got to work together here.”
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In 2004, Keller had a newborn baby at the time and a three-year-old. Along with this, she was working on ABC TV’s Mondo Thingo two days a week and was one of Jones’s rotating co-hosts on 2WS breakfast. “She was the Wednesday girl,” he said. This work setup was perfect for Keller, who was adamant that she wasn’t going to do full-time breakfast radio.
However, the cancellation of Mondo Thingo changed that.
“If they had renewed that show, I would have never come to radio,” Keller said.
Jones said: “I had a feeling that my career was going to die here.”
Keller joked: “I’d like you to remember that the next time you are rude to me on air. When all was at stake, I came on a big white horse and saved you.”
Jones laughed and answered: “You did… If it wasn’t for Amanda, I wouldn’t have this.”
It took some time for the listeners to understand the chemistry between the two presenters.
Jones remembered that listeners would often be “outraged” when he had a go at Keller, because she would not respond. “People didn’t know our relationship so they sent us to see a marriage counsellor,” Jones said. [Laughs]
Keller added: “One of things they came back with was, if you [Jones] are going to poke me, then I had to verbalise my response to it.”
But Keller has never been the one to play according to the typical gender role of a woman on-air.
“It’s boring to be in the position of having to tell the boy, ‘Stop being irritating’, ‘Don’t be rude’ and ‘You can’t go and say that’. It’s a very boring female role,” she said.
“There is no battle of the sexes. Sometimes they do happen, but our opinions aren’t always along the gender line,” Keller said.
This is a part of the reason why Jonesy and Amanda has been a hit with its listeners. The show went #1 for the first time in 2005, as Jones predicted to the station’s management at the time.
Keller had initially signed on to do the breakfast show for two years, thinking it would help with her children’s school fees in the future.
Thirteen years later, she is still at the same station, in the same timeslot and with the same co-host. The show is still a hit with the listeners as it was in its early days. Jonesy and Amanda became #1 FM breakfast in the latest radio ratings, dethroning longtime holders of the title, KIIS 106.5’s Kyle and Jackie O.
Part two: WSFM breakfast presenters and radio veterans on overtaking Sydney’s former #1 breakfast show Kyle and Jackie O, and how the landscape has changed in the last decade.