Ray Hadley is a broadcast troll who is allowed free rein on Sydney radio every day to expound his absurd, objectionable and obnoxious views, says Eric Athurson.
IT MAKES YOU wonder, sometimes, what it takes to get to the top of business or the media in Australia.
You’ve all heard the stories.
Whether it is Gina Rinehart and her unseemly battles with her own children over their iron ore fortune; or the sometimes billionaire, sometime broke Nathan Tinkler and his reported perpetual sackings and foul-mouthed tirades against staff; or ‘Vile’ Kyle Sandilands, the aggressive and often sexist drive time Neanderthal — there seems a pattern of offensiveness that follows money and celebrity.
The Business Review Weekly ‒ no anti-business rag by any means – ran an interesting article on research into the personality traits of successful business people, finding:
‘While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritise their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereo-typically associate with, say, assholes.’
Which brings us to Ray Hadley.
Really, he’s the live version of a troll. He provokes, rants, outrages, makes off-topic insults and yet, when someone stands up to him face-to-face, he backs down.
It’s hard to know where to start with Ray.
As noted by Mike Carlton - a man with whom Ray has mutual loathing – Hadley’s history is replete with examples:
“I know several of the young men who were tormented by this man. I know about Hadley's rages, the torrents of foul-mouthed abuse. I know he savaged these kids at their most vulnerable, when they were barely out of university and finding their way in the daily hustle of a radio newsroom.”
Hadley himself has offered the rather revealing admission in response to being sued for bullying:
“…in some respects I’ll have to change I guess because the workplace in 2013 is far different from the workplace in 1983.”
Many could take this as an admission this behaviour has been going on for thirty years.
But there are two particular instances that seem to embody the texture of Hadley’s trolldom.
The first is his long-running vendetta against Rob Oakeshott.
His hatred of Rob no doubt springs from the fact Oakeshott decided against supporting Tony Abbott in the hung parliament. For the crime of failing to put his boy in the Lodge, Ray has subjected Rob to regular abuse over the last three years, in particular mocking what he sees as Oakeshott’s limited intelligence. He has said, for example, that Oakeshott is
“…a bloke with an intellect less than that of Larry, Curly and Moe.”
Indeed, mocking the intelligence of Rob and others is one of Hadley’s favourite methods of insults, regularly using the terms ‘halfwit,’ ‘drongo,’ ‘dope,’ and ‘imbecile.’
For a man with a vocabulary as limited as Tony Abbott’s policy agenda, it strikes me as a surprising display of poor self-awareness for Hadley to criticise the intelligence of others. More so when you consider Hadley’s audience is a knuckle-dragging collection of conspiracy theorists, mouth-breathers, senile retirees and Daily Telegraph readers. The average IQ of Ray Hadley’s listeners would rarely rise above room temperature.
Nonetheless, if Hadley truly does believe Oakeshott to be such a fool, it is passing strange that Hadley has never taken up one of Rob Oakeshott’s many challenges to debate him in public.
That is — to step up, in person, away from the safety of his radio studio, hulking body guard and caller kill-switch.
Given Hadley has spent an inordinate amount of energy attacking Rob, playing songs about him, satirising his speeches — you’d think he’d jump at the chance to humiliate him in public.
But no, Hadley has never had the courage to debate Oakeshott. Like a true troll, he backs down when confronted.
Then there is the falling out between Hadley and his former friend and colleague, Andrew Voss.
Ray Hadley was one of the driving forces behind a statue being erected of commentator Ray Warren in his home town of Junee. After the statue had been unveiled, Andrew Voss made some very mild, humorous comments about it not being a great likeness of Warren.
He took to his radio show, calling Voss a ‘grub’ and a ‘moron’ (that word again). He also made disparaging comments about Andrew Voss’ abilities as a league commentator.
Let’s get something straight, Andrew Voss was the number two caller of rugby league in the country behind Ray Warren, and for good reason. He brought enthusiasm, meticulous research, and a genuine love of the game to the microphone. He’s intelligent and has a fine sense of humour.
On the other hand, Ray Hadley, in the words of leading sports opinion website theroar: “is a leaden caller. Scant sense of humour, precious little insight and an outsized sense of self-importance.”
Voss sued Hadley for the radio tirade and won a reported six-figure settlement. Hadley was also forced to read an on-air apology to Voss. Yet, Voss’ career soon took a nose-dive. After the case, Voss was relegated to commentating on the Queensland Cup and lost a regular spot on the popular Footy Show program. Recently he has moved to providing commentary solely for the New Zealand Warriors team. Newspaper reports have alleged it was his decision to sue Hadley that caused his sudden demise.
That’s the thing about Ray, when things don’t go his way he seems more than willing to let friends in high places take up arms for him.
For a knockabout, working class bloke, who should be rightly proud of working his way up from the bottom (and he should be), he seems all-too ready to go running to wealthy patrons when he gets in trouble.
This was reportedly the case when Hadley was taken off the air for one week by 2GB’s Macquarie Radio Network’s managing director, Rob Loewenthal, after he heard a recording of Hadley abusing a junior staff member. Yet this decision was quickly reversed at after a phone call from the owner, radio overlord John Singleton.
On other occasions, members of the silver spoon brigade come running to the defence of Hadley without even being asked. As was the case when Premier Barry O’Farrell stood up for Ray after recordings emerged of one of his many abusive tirades.
Surely, you would think, a tough, manly, powerful multimillionaire like Hadley would be able to stand on his own two feet when confronted. But no, each time he retreats to his lair under the bridge.
And here’s another thing — there is a way to get to the top of the game in business or the media without being a complete douchebag.
Perfectionism, competitiveness, ambition, these things are all valid paths. But being an asshole isn’t necessary.
Look, for example, at, Lisa Wilkinson.
Lisa not only manages to bringing grace and intelligence to breakfast TV, of all things, but can pull off a devastating political interview without resorting to personal abuse.
Or Frank Lowy, who has made his way from the humblest of origins – a Jewish family trying to survive Nazi-occupied Hungary ‒ to becoming one of the richest people in Australia. Here is a man who has channelled his wealth back into the Australian community through his generous philanthropy.
No tirades, no vendettas, no bullying.
If only more billionaires and media celebrities – and shock jocks ‒ would follow their example.
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