ONE of Perth’s most recognisable voices returns to the airwaves this month, with high-profile shock jock Howard Sattler close to recovered from intensive radiotherapy to his larynx.
Mr Sattler was controversially sacked from 6PR in 2013 after asking then Primer Minister Julia Gillard if her boyfriend Tim Mathieson was gay.
In February 2015 the veteran talkback host launched his own web-based station, The Sattler Files, out of his Mt Pleasant home.
He was diagnosed with throat cancer in November last year, and subsequently endured a six-and-a-half week stint in hospital battling pneumonia.
The 71-year-old, who also has Parkinson’s disease, is now in remission but the invasive radiotherapy ravaged his throat and voice, forcing him to take a break from broadcasting.
“We caught the cancer early, so I was not surprised that an immediate course of 28 radiotherapy sessions removed all traces of it,” Mr Sattler said.
“But the victory came at a price – the radiotherapy severely burnt and blistered my throat inside and out.
“Seven months after the completion of the radiation course my vocal chords are still swollen, although with time and an intensive course with an excellent speech pathologist both she and I are confident I can return to the microphone in early August.”
Love him or hate him – and his fans and detractors are passionate in their assessments – no one could ever accuse Mr Sattler of boring an audience.
He said the response to the The Sattler Files had been overwhelmingly positive and that the station recently attracted more than 28,000 listeners on one day.
“(What I enjoy most) is not having to answer to bosses for whom I had no respect and who I felt did not respect me, my experience and my achievements during my 32 years as a talk show host,” Mr Sattler said.
“That, plus having the autonomy of running my own website/station and not being constrained by the bureaucracy that is strangling commercial radio, especially the imposition of political correctness.”
While enjoying the freedom of programming, Mr Sattler did concede he missed the regular duels and wide range of characters he had encountered on commercial radio.
“I guess until the mainstream radio audience becomes adept at accessing podcast radio I am moving forward with only a limited opportunity for talk back,” he said.
“(I miss) a good stoush – I used to love taking on those who it seemed to me were beating up on society’s battlers.”
“My health issues have sidelined me for the past 12 months and I am working assiduously to revive my voice and with it the confidence to tackle major, controversial issues.”
Tune in to The Sattler Files online at thesattlerfiles.com.
BEGINNING his career as a cadet journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1960s, Mr Sattler has more than half a century of media experience.
He has worked in print, radio, television and public relations but said that in the present media climate he would not encourage any young person to pursue a career in journalism.
“In recent times, changes in the broadcasting laws have allowed companies to own two radio licences in one city, resulting in the closure of entire newsrooms as proprietors cut costs and service both stations from the one centre,” he said.
“My strong recommendation to any aspiring broadcast journalist is to start in newspapers, where you will receive comprehensive training as a cadet, then either put out feelers to the ABC or commercial television newsrooms.
“Alternatively, for the writing is well and truly on the wall for the limited future of major metropolitan newspapers in their present printed form, you should look to join their online teams.”
Mr Sattler said the ability to build rapport with your audience meant radio remained his favourite broadcast medium and predicted that podcast and web streaming would continue to gain popularity.
“In some markets in the USA (podcasting) is already accounting for up to 15 per cent of listening audiences.
“Apart from the initial start-up costs, it is considerably cheaper than commercial talk stations, there are no bureaucratically imposed licence boundaries and the quality of the signal is far superior to traditional AM stations.
“Best of all, proprietors are allowed to self regulate, which in my case means I no longer am subject to the orders of unqualified ‘yes men’ who have been put in charge by the bean counters running the networks.”
WEIGHING in on the recent Federal Election, Mr Sattler added his voice to the growing chorus highlighting apathy and a lack of trust in the major parties as the biggest issues facing Australian politics today.
“It is a trend that shows no signs of slowing and is based on voters’ distrust of the major parties and their leaders who it seems will promise anything to get elected and break those commitments once they win office,” he said.
“I had a solution which was to get whoever is the party leader to sign a binding legal agreement to fulfil their campaign speech undertakings, (or) forfeit their salary.
“I managed to get two Opposition leaders to sign – the trouble is I never succeeded in getting any of the winners to commit.”