Merrick and Rosso in 2005.
Merrick and Rosso in 2005.

Merrick and Rosso’s big gripe with Kyle Sandilands

MERRICK and Rosso didn't hold back when asked what they think of Kyle Sandilands.

The legendary radio duo, who built up a cult following on Triple J before moving to Nova Sydney in 2001, reunited for an episode of the Game Changers: Radio podcast.

Merrick and Rosso were the kings of breakfast radio in Sydney in the early 2000s and at first they weren't too worried when Kyle and Jackie O became their breakfast rivals in 2005.

"I didn't really understand what they did," Rosso said on the podcast. "They were a reflection of globalisation coming in and people being into that showbiz stuff.

"I wasn't dismissive of them. I always admired his bravery in terms of what he could do. None of us could do what he did in terms of being able to write people off and just burn people."

 

Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O started hosting the 2Day FM breakfast show in 2005.
Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O started hosting the 2Day FM breakfast show in 2005.

 

In April 2005, just a few months after Kyle started hosting the 2Day FM breakfast show with Jackie O, he made the bold declaration in an interview with Fairfax: "We'll beat them (Merrick and Rosso) in the next few months and once we beat them they'll never be No. 1 again".

The comment was just one of several attacks Kyle launched at his Nova rivals, and Merrick and Rosso were less than impressed.

"I was always disappointed, personally," Rosso said about Kyle's sledges. "It's always been quite a collegiate industry and he wasn't part of that.

"That kind of stuff's not cool," Rosso said on Game Changers: Radio. "We always used to enjoy everyone else's shows and enjoyed everyone else's company. And then there is someone who is chucking grenades around for whatever reason. It just didn't fit."

It didn't help that Merrick and Rosso were initially banned by Nova from responding to Kyle's attacks.

"We were instructed to be non-combative and it was particularly difficult for me because I am combative," Merrick said.

"For me personally, I've always said if you attack me, I'm going to have a crack … I told the station that and we were suppressed."

 

Merrick and Rosso set to sail on a pirate ship for start of 2005 radio season in Sydney.
Merrick and Rosso set to sail on a pirate ship for start of 2005 radio season in Sydney.

 

Eventually Kyle's comments tipped Merrick over the edge and he called the head of Nova, Paul Thompson, and told him that he was going to fire back.

"He said, 'OK,'" Merrick said. "And I said, 'my only problem, Paul, is I think it's too late'."

It turns out Merrick was right. After just 12 months on air, Kyle and Jackie O had dethroned Merrick and Rosso to become the number one FM breakfast show in Sydney.

In the Game Changers: Radio podcast, Merrick and Rosso also opened up about why they stopped working together.

At the end of 2009, Nova listeners were shocked when Rosso announced that he was quitting the breakfast show. Speculation was rife at the time that the two comedians had a falling out.

"It was one of those things where we'd worked and then we didn't," Rosso said.

Merrick added: "Rosso and I had blues but also I think we were at a point in our lives where we probably needed to have some time away from each other.

"We are two very different people with the same sense of humour. We have very separate interests that we both follow as individuals. For me it's been really important … to go follow these interests we have in our lives that are outside of just producing material for a machine. By having done that I think we've matured, particularly me. I've matured as a human being. I was a child until about 11 or 12 months ago."

All these years later, Merrick and Rosso are still good mates and said they "talk all the time". As for Kyle and Jackie O, they're still the number one FM breakfast show in Sydney.

 

You can listen to Merrick and Rosso's full interview with Craig Bruce on the Game Changers: Radio podcast by Bad Producer Productions.