EXCLUSIVE: Former 2SM radio host, Marcus Paul, has revealed he was left angry and disappointed by his sacking and believes he was held to a different standard by commercial radio bosses due to his modern takes. Paul now hosts his own StarterFM radio show and this week opened up about the challenges and freedoms that come with working for independent media. Nour Ahmad reports.
Sydney radio broadcaster Marcus Paul had been hosting his 2SM breakfast segment ‘Marcus In The Morning’ for nearly two years when he was sacked over an “insensitive” quiz segment early this year.
The giveaway quiz, which aired in January, involved Paul asking listeners to guess which NSW suburb the murdered Charlise Mutten went to school in. The nine-year-old schoolgirl had been found in a barrel two days before and her stepfather had been charged for the murder.
The quiz sparked outrage from a victims of crime advocate and ultimately led Paul to apologise on Facebook and 2SM to launch an internal investigation into the matter. Two weeks into the investigation, 2SM’s eccentric and reclusive owner Bill Caralis would reportedly make the call – Paul was to be axed from the show.
Now, Paul has revealed to True Crime News Weekly that he was angry and disappointed on how his situation was handled.
“I was angry because there seems to be one rule for me and another rule for others, and disappointed because I wasn’t allowed to go back on air and make a proper apology,” he told TCNW.
The broadcaster slammed his former employer the 2SM Super Network, which is Australia’s largest privately owned radio network.
While Paul was under investigation, 2GB veteran broadcaster Alan Jones was speculated to replace him. Jones has had plenty of on-air controversies, including an infamous 2019 rant where he said that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should have a sock shoved down her throat.
Despite more than 125 complaints being made to the media watchdog ACMA, Jones was simply given a ‘final warning’ for his rant instead of being fired. Unlike Paul, he was also given the chance to issue an on-air apology.
Another broadcaster who was granted leniency was former 2HS broadcaster John Laws. Laws was investigated by the ACMA in early 2020 when he urged a listener to “say something constructive, like you’re going to kill yourself.” Interestingly enough, Laws recently moved his morning show to the very same 2SM that fired Paul.
Paul believes that he was held to a different standard to his right-wing counterparts and that broadcasters need to be right-wing to get gigs in commercial radio.
“I’m not a right-wing shock jock,” he told TCNW.
Paul now hosts a StarterFM show free of charge (Image: Supplied / Facebook)
The 50-year-old, who has more than 25 years experience in media, first became interested in embarking on a media career as a Year 10 high schooler after doing an interview on camera for a student night.
“To me it was just exciting, and then I went to Charles Sturt University out in Bathurst to study journalism and Deborah Knight and Jessica Rowe were actually in my class,” he said.
“I came out of university on a scholarship sponsored by Coca-Cola which was good because it paid for my first couple of years. I did night-time shows and then music announcing because it was fun.”
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Paul revealed that he would eventually have his start in breakfast news and was offered the Drive Time Show.
“One of my biggest dreams was to do a Breakfast show in the city, if you know about Sydney’s radio and television industry you’d know that’s the biggest market.”
Following his termination from 2SM, Paul now hosts his two-hour breakfast show on internet radio station Starterfm and runs his Facebook page.
He revealed that the move to independent media has been exciting and challenging but also difficult.
Paul said that it is difficult to get big companies to sponsor independent media and this has led him to reluctantly create a GoFundMe page.
“The show doesn’t have sponsors and I don’t get paid for those two hours so I’ve had to start the GoFundMe because the reality is without the funds the show can’t keep going,” he said.
So far, the GoFundMe has raised $7,500 and is slowly inching closer to the $10,000 goal.
Over 200 people have donated to Paul’s GoFundMe (Image: Supplied / Gofundme.com)
On his show, Paul talks about news he believes is important in Australia. Issues such as negative gearing, climate change and COVID-19 to name a few.
He also proudly goes by “Prawny,” a nickname which was popularised by independent journalist and Youtuber Friendlyjordies.
The history between Marcus Paul and Friendlyjordies, real name Jordan Shanks, is certainly intriguing, and began in early 2020 when Paul criticised Shanks after then NSW deputy Premier John Barilaro accused Friendlyjordies of racism. In a light-hearted response video, Shanks slammed the talkback host for not doing his research on the channel.
Paul would later ask Shanks to appear on his 2SM show, where the two would begin to form an appreciation for each other. Paul would even come to Shanks’ defense by making the point to the leader of Labor in NSW, Jodi McKay, that the press chose to ignore Shanks’ exposing of Barilaro’s alleged corruption.
Now, going through Paul’s Facebook page, there appears to be many young people interacting with his content.
“60 per cent of my audience are 25 to 39-year-olds and 20 odd per cent are 40 to 55 year-olds,” the Starter host revealed.
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When asked if he thought the exposure from Friendlyjordies resulted in this younger audience, Paul said that this is partly the case but that younger people are interested to know about his progressive takes.
“I talk about negative gearing and progressive topics on my show and this is something younger people are interested in,” he said. “Younger people care.”
The radio host then quipped: “I don’t want to appeal to baby boomers because they tend to be right-wing”.
Paul said that he was ‘absolutely’ glad that the Liberals lost the recent federal election but assured that he was going to go hard on Labor too.
“I have gone hard on Labor, I’ve said that the prime minister should work on stopping Julian Assange’s extradition.”
Even though the Wikileaks founder is still fighting his extradition to the U.S., Anthony Albanese did deliver on his promise to let a family of Tamil asylum seekers return home to Queensland. The Murugappan family had been held in detention for more than four years after their temporary protection visas expired.
Paul revealed that he was happy about this accomplishment by the Labor Party.
“By the same token, I’m glad the Murugappan family went home and that there’s a good target on climate change,” the Starter host said.
As the conversation came to an end, Paul revealed that he himself is a regular reader of True Crime News Weekly and a big supporter of other independent news outlets.
“It’s very important to have independent media rather than foreign commercial media like NewsCorp,” he said.
“Friendlyjordies is another great journalist. We’re a little community of our own.”
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