Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O have just celebrated 20 years together on FM radio at 2Day FM and then KIIS 106.5. They have also just added to their ratings winning streak and have been #1 FM breakfast in Sydney 16 times. In fact during their long career together they have usually been #1 FM in the timeslot whether it be evening, drive or breakfast.
Sandilands recently joined the Mediaweek podcast after he came off air from his penultimate breakfast show of 2020. He was joined on this podcast by his producer-turned-business manager Bruno Bouchet.
Together they spoke with Mediaweek about the growing King Kyle business empire, in particular the drinks business Nueva Sangria and their expansion plans.
During the visit to the inner-city King Kyle HQ, Sandilands didn’t hold back on the radio business and his competition – past, present and future.
Read the podcast highlights below and listen to the interview.
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Kyle Sandilands and Bruno Bouchet podcast: Uncensored, unedited
A new Mediaweek podcast published today celebrates one of the most successful partnerships in Australia radio – Kyle and Jackie O. After coming together on the Today Network in 2000 for The Hot 30, the duo were later moved to drive and then quickly into breakfast at 2Day FM. They jumped ship to ARN’s KIIS 106.5 (formerly Mix) where they have been a regular fixture as Sydney’s #1 FM breakfast show.
The third Mediaweek podcast with one half of the breakfast team, broadcaster Kyle Sandilands, was recorded in the Sydney offices of the King Kyle Group. It has been close to eight years since Sandilands was last on a Mediaweek podcast, way back when his book Scandalands was published. Back then Bruno Bouchet, who co-authored the book, was also a guest on the podcast.
These days Bouchet is managing director of the King Kyle group of companies and he again joins this podcast. We were keen to speak with Bouchet and Sandilands about the business empire they are building. As you will hear the conversation often wandered off-topic. The recording took place in the Sydney HQ of the King Kyle group. We also got to meet Coffee John (who Kyle talks about in one memorable segment) while we also met with the co-founder of the Nueva Drinks Co, Tegan Kynaston.
When you walk in the main entrance of King Kyle Group you enter a bar set up to promote the Nueva Sangria wine brand. Up a few more stairs and then there is an open plan workspace with an adjacent office and studio.
“We can do everything here,” said Sandilands showing us around. “Podcasting, live to air, TV production, film editing, recording studio. We are pumping out lots of content from here including on a real estate show we are working on for Amazon Prime.”
What follows are some of the highlights from the 90-minute interview. Unlike the podcast, these highlights have been edited and censored!
Listen to the unedited and uncensored Kyle and Bruno podcast
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Kyle and his managers
Bruno Bouchet is running the Sandilands business and managing the radio star. Sandilands explained: “Bruno had enough of radio and wanted to move onto something else. He now runs all my companies – King Kyle Group. He’s doing well here.”
BB: [On his transition from radio to corporate Australia working for Casio.] “One minute I was working in radio, making dick jokes and having a laugh, then a few weeks later I’m in a board room in Tokyo, negotiating the prices of wristwatches for the Australian market. Kyle has taught me to calm down a lot – I have taken a lot of hints from Kyle. He’s my guru.”
Is there a different dynamic between Sandilands and Bouchet who have gone from work colleagues to authors of Kyle’s autobiography to now business manager and talent?
KS: “I look at him as the same slave as I have always seen him. He gets paid more now though.”
BB: “When I was a kid listening to Kyle and The Hot 30. [KS interjects: ‘How dare you. There is hardly any age difference.’] I used to think that Ugly Phil was great hosting that show. But when Kyle took over, all of a sudden I was thinking there was a mad man on the radio. I thought they had let a crazy person on air and he’s talking about things like how to get good blow jobs. It was outrageous.”
KS: “That’s how Bruno learnt to blow a bloke.”
BB: “I had decided I wanted to work in radio for either one of two people –Kyle or John Laws. I worked my ass off and the opportunity came up to work for Kyle and be the guest booker. I was probably trying too hard to be liked by Kyle and he despised me and I thought I would be gone after my second week.”
KS: “That’s right. Didn’t Jackie ban you from coming into the studio we broadcast from?”
BB: “Yes. For a guest booker it was very difficult that I couldn’t take the guest into the studio. I opened the door for them and just pushed them in.
“Over the 10 years I have known Kyle he has become not only a mentor but a close friend who I think knows more about me than my wife does.”
The King Kyle Group
KS: “We have the coconut water company H2coco and that’s going very well. Myself and three others have put together the Nueva Sangria business. Tegan Kynaston has worked with me for ages and we’ve been best friends for about 10 years. She and her family are in the alcohol industry and have been doing it for ages.
“Tegan, her brother David, and Sam, the other wine guy, got together and said they could do a high-end Sangria and it was a surprise hit. We were just selling it online at first and now it is in BWS, Dan Murphy, Liquorland…they are all jumping on board.
“It was a side gig for us that has taken on a whole life of its own. We have a Prosecco coming out this month and then a beer is being launched in January.”
A third launch is also pending after Kyle spotted a business opportunity early in 2020.
“All those grapes that got affected by the bushfires, I bought them all from the farmers instead of letting them be used as pig food. I asked the winemakers if they could do anything with a smoky grape. The only thing we could do was a smoky gin, so I said, ‘Fuck it, let’s do it’.”
Asked what he’d do if the gin takes off, Sandilands replied: “I’ll start another fire, I’ll burn the whole country to the ground.
“We have also gone into a business that does live pets for children and we are doing a cartoon based on that. Zac Efron is doing one of the voices and so will Dannii Minogue. I will also do a voice and I have music guys working on kids’ songs and we are also developing live shows, merchandise and toys.
“There is a lot going on. I am a bit annoyed it is coming into Christmas because I am just getting ramped up when everybody else wants to lay on the beach or visit their families.”
What Sandilands has built over the past couple of years is the biggest crack he’s had at a business group. “I have dipped my toe into a few things in the past. It’s mainly Tegan, Dave and Sam who have done all the hard work for the Nueva Sangria. I have pulled out of a lot of business ventures over the years – none of them failed, but I pulled out because it didn’t feel right. If something doesn’t feel right I will be a person who does a U-turn and waits for something else.”
KS: “I will roll the dice on something. I don’t know a lot outside of radio and TV. Anything outside of that I will have a look at, but I want to get experts in that industry around me. When they are nodding yes, yes, yes, I will bring them on board and give them some skin in the game. We will then slowly launch the boat out into the ocean, hoping it doesn’t sink.”
How hands on are you? Do you look at the bank accounts etc?
“Yes. I never used to. I would blindly trust everybody around me in the early years and a few people made some mistakes which led to huge losses. Those days are gone. I have great accountants, great lawyers, and managers of different departments. I look at the P&Ls every month and they have to come to me if there are any purchases that aren’t budgeted for.”
Radio’s highest paid: How team Kyle negotiates a new deal with ARN
Part 2 of our Kyle Sandilands feature details highlights from his new Mediaweek podcast.
Today he talks about how he negotiates with ARN and what might be next for Kyle and Jackie O.
Wednesday: Our final instalment in Kyle Sandilands week with his thoughts on syndicated breakfast, the arrival of Hughesy, Ed and Erin into the Sydney market and keeping radio simple.
Radio contract negotiations
Who sits at the table when Sandilands renews a deal?
KS: “Ciaran Davis and Duncan Campbell from ARN, and myself with [manager] Bruno [BB] and Greg Sitch, our lawyer and one of the best entertainment lawyers in the world. I will go to the first meeting where it is all just cakes and smiles. I will leave and tell Greg and Bruno what I want and how I want it.
“They will then argy-bargy back and forth because I can’t put up with it. My demands are always fair, never outrageous. A lot of other people will think it is outrageous.”
Sandilands said he is right at the end of the first deal he and Jackie signed with ARN. He starts a new deal next year with three years remaining.
Sandilands said fewer radio surveys in 2020 meant less bonus payments for ranking #1 FM. He also noted he gets a ‘share of profit’ bonus.
ARN pay Sandilands and Jackie O an amount they need to get back from advertisers. “It’s going to be hard to get that back,” said Sandilands in a reference to the big payday the breakfast hosts negotiated.
Staying on air until 10am and later is not part of earning his salary.
“They want me off air at 9am,” he stressed.
BB: “I’ve had management say they’ll buy me a car if I can get Kyle off air at 9am.”
Sandilands then explained his ad load strategy, but it’s complicated…listen to the podcast!
He also mentioned the ARN contract with the stars which runs to 300 pages. Sandilands can’t be fired for any reason. “That’s right,” he explained. “It’s always somebody else’s fault, not mine.”
Sandilands doesn’t have to have a censor, although he’s happy for it as it acts as a safety net. One that is used quite often!
Sandilands signs off on every KIIS employee that comes and goes, “including senior management”. He added: “They can’t sell the place and have some loser show up. I have to agree.”
The next big radio deal
Do you have a big radio deal left in you?
“Sure. We’ve been with ARN for seven years. When Bruno was brought into my company he realised the sort of money I was earning. He knew roughly, but didn’t know the detail. I told him I was well and truly at the ceiling of what I was going to get in Australia. But I am always trying to broaden the reach and get more money.
“I have already had a conversation with the head of Spotify in the US. A very informal chat about radio and what we do on our show. Also Amazon have asked where are we at with contracts. I have said I am really happy on radio at the moment. iHeartRadio is doing well for us and gets the reach out around the world which I love. I am really happy with ARN, but I don’t know what the future holds. The show may stay with ARN, iHeartRadio might turn into something different, or Amazon may come along and say we’ll give you all this.
“[Any new deal] won’t be just money driven. I don’t want it to be too hard or for people to have to pay to hear us. We should always be free. I don’t mind if it was on a platform. If iHeartRadio said they want to film it like TV and then charge people to watch it, I’d say that’s OK.”
The dream of success in the US
“I was reading an article one day and Tracy Johnson, one of the world’s biggest radio consultants ever, said there was only two radio shows worth listening to – The Howard Stern Show and The Kyle and Jackie O Show. I nearly fell of my chair. I was so excited.
“There has been some discussion in the past about the US. One of the networks wanted to syndicate our show in the US on FTA FM. But when they sent back the edited version of how they could legally broadcast the show, I thought it was way too sanitised. There was no edginess and all the smut was gone.
“Sirius XM has also made contact. Every year Howard Stern says he is going to leave and they wonder what they will do. Their ‘Break Glass in the Case of an Emergency’ is to ask ‘What is Sandilands doing?’
“I have said to Bruno, let’s not chase that. If we ever did that, we would have to reimagine everything for a worldwide audience, not just Australia.
“We are happy where we are and we are committed to ARN for at least three more years.”
See also: 10 Reasons Kyle & Jackie O Are One of The World’s Best Morning Shows
They’re not just the best show in Australia. They may be the best radio show in the world.
Day 3 of the highlights from the Kyle and Bruno Mediaweek podcast
The final Kyle and Bruno package today with highlights from Mediaweek’s new podcast with the KIIS FM breakfast co-host and his business manager.
Download the new PodcastOne Australia app to listen or go to your favourite podcast platform.
BB: “The enquiry I get most from journalists is are we going to be syndicated nationally.”
Sandilands then said he has previously raised the idea of a national breakfast show with Ciaran Davis. In an Irish accent he repeated the response from the company CEO:
“You’ve already made enough money from me just for Sydney. Imagine the power you’d have if you were #1in every $%^&*@ capital city. You could do and say anything, and I’d be powerless.”
Sandilands said he’d love to co-host national breakfast with Jackie, but they don’t want to push other radio teams out of a job.
When asked if he could nail a syndicated breakfast show for a Melbourne audience, Sandilands replied: “Easy. Other people haven’t been able to make it work because they have always chosen the wrong station. You need a show and a station that is not sports related. We have always had national shows [evening and then drive] before we went to breakfast. Our show doesn’t talk local and it is the only show that could possibly be nationally syndicated.”
BB: “People overestimate the difference between Sydney and Melbourne.”
Kyle Sandiland’s Radio secrets of success
When we suggested to Sandilands that when The Kyle and Jackie O Show was pulled apart it was pretty simple, he replied: “Oh god, he’s exposed us!”
He also indicated that many FM shows always worry too much about the quality of the calls being put to air.
“Bring on the whack jobs,” is how Sandilands likes to manage the callers.
Bouchet explained in the podcast how the producers line up the vetted calls on the left-hand side of the screen for the hosts. “On the right-hand side are the ones that the producers are working on getting rid of. Kyle reads the screen from right to left and takes all the calls from the right, especially if they are labelled ‘Do not put to air’.”
Sandilands said he is happy with people having a laugh at his expense. “If you are that much an ego lunatic that you can’t see you own flaws and faults and have a laugh at yourself, and be self-deprecating, then this is not the business for you.”
SCA sacks regional breakfast shows
“SCA is so thick with high-end management they have no idea what they are doing. There was a brigade of young programmers, radio announcers and producers [in regional markets]. You can make some mistakes in the regional stations, and it is where you learn off Broadway. People can then move to bigger markets like Gold Coast, Canberra, Newcastle etc and then the next step would be a capital city. They chopped out half the country’s young radio talent. Where do people learn now? Community radio? Even though people weren’t paid a lot at country radio stations, people do it because they love it.”
Kyle Sandiland’s health, sick days cost Sandilands $250,000
“They are very good producers,” said Sandilands of the production team, adding they are all well paid, possibly all pulling over $100k.
There were quite a few Best Of shows in 2019 when Sandilands was ill, not so much this year.
“I had big blood pressure issues and I had sleep apnoea. Some days I was so crippled with headaches I’d be projectile vomiting for hours. I now have the right doctors, eating better and sleeping properly. I now feel alive again.
“I hate missing the show. A lot of people thought I was a lazy bastard, but it was always crippling pain that would stop me from going. Now I don’t have that.”
Sandilands revealed he was penalised financially for missing a show. “$28,000 a day it costs me. I only get 11 sick days a year. Last year they penalised me $250,000.”
2Day’s next Kyle and Jackie O replacement
It has been well documented the number of breakfast shows installed at 2Day FM since Kyle and Jackie O departed. Coming in 2021 is Hughesy, Ed and Erin. During the Mediaweek podcast Sandilands called Hughesy with audio that is a little hard to hear.
Sandilands did comment though on where the new show might get its listeners from.
KS: “Probably from Nova, he’s a Nova type.”
Sandilands also commented on the old Today Network format of just playing the hits, which he said was a good, easy-to-understand music position.
KS: “Radio programmers must think let’s not do the easy, obvious thing, let’s do the hardest, wierdest, wackiest thing and see if that works.”
Sandilands also revealed that he and manager Bruno have purchased the social media handles for 2Day’s new Morning Crew and Hughesy, Ed and Erin breakfast brands. Sandilands estimated he might want $10m for the names, although he later mentioned a smaller amount of $1m.