One of the Australian radio announcers at the centre of the disastrous royal baby prank saga last year has won a national competition to discover the station’s “next top jock”, sparking outrage.
Michael Christian, who six months ago was under fire for his role in the prank call to a London hospital that led to the suicide of a nurse caring for the Duchess of Cambridge, was on Tuesday given the award by his bosses at Southern Cross Austereo.
In a statement, Southern Cross Austereo said it was “thrilled” to crown Christian – who moved into Melbourne’s Fox FM mornings timeslot after being suspended in the wake of the fallout from December’s prank – as the joint winner, alongside Sydney 2Day FM mornings host Ellie Mobbs.
Australian Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has criticised the award, saying that it was not appropriate – particularly so soon after the nurse’s death.
”I think there’s a bit of bad taste involved there,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
”There were some very serious consequences of what was a prank and to be seen to be rewarding people so soon after such an event, I think, is just in bad taste.”
The latest developments come amid reports that management has cut off Mel Greig, Christian’s former co-host who also participated in the prank call.
Last December, Greig and Christian, filling in as hosts of the Hot 30 program, phoned the King Edward VII hospital in London and impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles in a bid to find out more about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy, where the duchess was being treated for morning sickness.
The nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, 46, committed suicide days later. Saldanha did not reveal any information about the duchess’s condition, but transferred the call to her room where another nurse did reveal information.
As part of his victory last night, Christian won a trip to Los Angeles for a tour of the radio studios of the city’s leading station.
In a statement, Christian said: “From the start, I felt like I had something to prove to myself … Regardless of all that’s happened in the past few months, I’m still at the top of my game. So it felt good to see my name at the top of the final leader board!
“If this competition has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a LOT of talent in this company. Plus it’s given all our announcers access to ideas, ways of thinking and people we might [not] normally have day-to-day contact with.”
– Sydney Morning Herald