Bridget Hustwaite | Credit: Brittany Long/WireImage via Getty

“Truly Disgusting”: Bridget Hustwaite Slams Triple J’s New “Commercial” Vision & Treatment Of Richard Kingsmill

Former triple j Good Nights presenter Bridget Hustwaite has unleashed on the ABC in a series of Instagram stories. It follows an upper-level decision to oust long-serving triple j music director Richard Kingsmill, with a view to replace him with someone from the commercial radio sector.

Earlier this week, a press release went out announcing the shock news that Kingsmill, who has been a mainstay on the j-waves for some 35 years, would be stepping down from his role as music coordinator and presenter. It’s since come to light that “The King” was made redundant by the broadcaster, as it eyes an ominous new “commercial” direction.

“Do you know who was the first person to play Ed Sheeran in Australia? It was Richard fucking Kingsmill” – Bridget Hustwaite

Last week, ABC Radio’s new head of audio content Ben Latimer, a former executive at commercial radio station Nova (notorious in industry circles for its “no guitars” music policy), flagged big changes on the horizon at triple j as it moves to recapture the waning attention of the TikTok generation.

“Right now, the current five capital city share is 4.2 per cent, so clearly, we’ve got to do some work around that,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. Latimer mentioned a plan to work “more closely with our talent-led shows, particularly Breakfast and Drive, on content, strategy and execution, and [take] a better look at music preferences for younger audiences”.

Not only does this imply an impending shake-up of the beloved triple j music playlist, it seems Latimer’s plan also involves injecting more commercial radio blood into the public broadcaster. The Age quoted ABC insiders – who spoke to the paper under the condition of anonymity because “they want to keep their jobs” – who claimed that the new boss told an all-staff meeting on Wednesday that Kingsmill “would be replaced with [someone] more familiar to the commercial radio industry”. “Sounds ominous,” The Age commented.

Fromer triple j darling Bridget Hustwaite agrees. Unlike the aforementioned ABC insiders, Hustwaite is no longer bound by the editorial policies that prohibit staff from speaking out publicly about the broadcaster.

“Fortunately I don’t work at the ABC anymore, so I can speak on this because I don’t have to be worried of losing my job, which is pretty fucked,” she said in a series of face-to-camera clips posted on her Instagram story. “But I got nothing to lose here and I will gladly speak on it because it is disgraceful.”

Hustwaite went on to voice her disgust that, after Kingsmill’s 35-year tenure at triple j, during which he launched the triple j Unearthed platform and doubled the amount of Aussie artists given airtime by the station (from 30 percent of its across-the-board rotation to 60 percent), his final show went to air on Sunday without anyone even knowing it was even his last hurrah.

“Here’s the thing,” she said. “Richard would not have wanted a send-off because he doesn’t want to make it about him. It’s about the music. [It] always has and always will be about the music for Richard. But I just think it is criminal that we didn’t know that he would have his final show. It’s just… how can you treat someone like that who has given over three decades of service?”

Hustwaite then went on to mock Latimer’s plan to replace The King with someone from a commercial radio background. “Do you know who was the first person to play Ed Sheeran in Australia? It was Richard fucking Kingsmill,” she said. “So don’t even pull out that line. Kingsmill could do that job.”

In her impassioned defence of Kingsmill, Hustwaite also took aim at critics who’ve previously called him a “gatekeeper” (despite his efforts to open up the airwaves to more Australian artists via triple j Unearthed and Double J) as well as those who’ve complained that, at 59 years old, he’s “too old” to helm the youth broadcaster.

“You need someone with experience, knowledge and his work ethic? Unmatched. Good luck filling that void. Good luck,” she said. “I just think it is truly disgusting. The lack of acknowledgement, the no send-off. He wouldn’t have wanted a send-off anyway. But for a man who has been there for over three decades? Come on.”

Hustwaite concluded by reiterating: “I don’t work at the ABC and I don’t have to be worried about losing my job so I can be as unhinged and pissed off as I like. Because I know this is a shared feeling… It’s so cooked.”

In the official ABC press release that went out earlier this week announcing Kingsmill’s departure, the Australian music industry icon said, “I’ve given my heart and soul to everything I’ve done here. The best feeling now, at the end of all that, is knowing how much I’ve still got left in the tank in continuing to contribute to the Australian music industry.”

He continued: “Coming up with the Unearthed brand and initial concept was one thing. Being able to uncover the likes of Missy Higgins, Grinspoon, G Flip and Genesis Owusu is one of the great thrills and privileges for me.”

Finally, Kingsmill emphasised the importance of supporting local music in the face of a ratings imperative that drives triple j’s commercial radio counterparts to regurgitate the same homogenised playlists of international mega-hits.

“For years, all I ever heard from the commercial radio sector was Australian music was bad for ratings,” he said. “Well, we did what we did, and more than doubled our audience reach in the process.”

At the time of writing, Kingsmill’s replacement at triple j has yet to be announced.

Further Reading

Triple J Has A New Music Director, As Richard Kingsmill Takes A New Role

The Most Powerful People In Aussie Music For 2015, According To AMID

Voting for triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2023 Opens

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