Aussie DJ's in Tragic Suicide Prank: Full Text of Their Emotional First Interview
This is the full text of the interview with the Australian DJs on Channel 9.
Hello, I am Tracy Grimshaw – welcome to A Current Affair. First tonight – it was supposed to be just another prank call. In a cavalcade of similar stunts played regularly by radio announcers around the world. Now, a British nurse is dead, and two young Aussie DJs are facing death threats and calls for them to be sacked and to even face criminal charges. I spoke with an emotional Mel Greig and Michael Christian today. For the record, this interview is unpaid and unedited.Mel and Michael thanks for your time. I would like to ask you at the outset, you are under enormous pressure at the moment; I would like to know that you are absolutely sure you are up to doing this.
Mel, are you OK?
Alright, if it gets too much let me know and we will take a break. I think we should go back to when the prank call was first made. Whose idea was it?
MC: It was just – the team sitting down before the show – just had the idea for a simple, harmless phone call that you know, when we thought about making a call, it was going to go for 30 seconds, there was just – we were going to be hung up on, and that was it. As innocent as that.
MG: We thought 100 people before us would have tried it, we just thought it was such a silly idea, the accents were terrible, not for a second did we expect to even speak to Kate, let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on.
MC: And the intentions I suppose were never even – we never expected to get to Kate, it wasn’t even about ‘Can we speak to her?’ It was just – let’s just call and – you know – we will be hung up on and that was it – that would be it.
So, when it became clear, when you were put on hold and it would appear that the call was going to be put through, did you have any second thoughts at that time? Did you think ‘wait a minute, this is going a bit further than we expected?’
MG: I still expected them to put us through to some kind of complaints area that she would have realised from that point and we were going to be transferred and told off and hung up on. Didn’t expect to get through to anyone at any stage.
MC: And I mean, I don’t think that anyone could have expected or foreseen what was going to happen after all this. It was completely innocent and we just assumed that we would be cut off, at every single point. And that would be it.
At that point when the second nurse was giving you quite a lot of detailed personal information about the Duchess, did you think ‘Maybe we need to stop it here?’
MC: We just – I mean – we didn’t think – and I don’t think anyone would have thought that it would have had the outcome, the tragic outcome – the set of circumstances could never be predicated by anyone. I don’t think, you know, and at every single point, it was innocent on our behalf and it was just something that was fun and light hearted and a tragic turn of events that I don’t think anyone could have ever have predicted or expected.
MG: Prank calls have been around for years, we have done many a prank call before then, it is the same thing, you prank someone, you record it and then it goes to the other departments to work out what they want to do with it. It has been done for years. To this … it was routine for us. It wasn’t anything different.
What are the guidelines here at Today FM for prank calls? For where you draw the line in the sand for what is acceptable and what is unacceptable – what have you been told?
MG: It is not up to us to make that decision, we just record it and then it goes to the other departments to work it out. I don’t know what they then do with it, we just do what we do which is make those calls.
MC: There is a processing place for prank calls or anything that makes it to air. And that is out of our hands, that is – this was put through every filter that I think everything is put through before it makes it to air side. We made the phone call and then that was it on our behalf.
What sort of filters did it go through?
MC: The same filters that everything goes through – we don’t get to make those decisions, we don’t get to make those calls. That is done by other people and you know, it is these processes, haven’t changed, it has always been the same and our role is just to record and get the audio and then, you know, wait to be told whether it is OK or not OK and act upon as we are told.
So, is it your sense as presenters that the buck stops way beyond you – is that your sort of view?
MG: I don’t think anyone could have foreseen where this could – no-one could have predicted this at all. So…it is just really tragic.
How did you hear about Jacintha Saldana’s death?
[Pause] MG sobbing…
MC: We both found out about the same time and I think it was…
MG: It was the worst phone call I had ever had in my life [crying]…
MC: It was early Saturday morning – when we were told…
Who called you – how were you told?
MC: There were…
MG: I don’t even remember to be honest, I don’t know…
MC: There were a group of people and they all told us about it, you know. They were there for us most importantly and first and foremost were there to make sure that we were OK and … you know … I am still trying to make sense of it all, it is … you know … it is still, it is not anything that anyone could have ever imagined was going to happen and it is – we are still trying to work our way through it all I suppose.
What was your immediate reaction?
MC: Shattered, gutted, heart-broken and obviously our deepest sympathies are with the family and the friends of all those affected and you know, obviously, Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for this situation and what has happened and you know, we hope that they are doing OK and they are getting the love and support that they deserve and need right now but I mean personally I am … [sighs] I am gutted.
MG: [Sobbing] There is not a minute that goes by that we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through and the thought that we may have played a part in that is … it is just gut wrenching…
MC: You know, prank calls are made every day, on every radio station in every country around the world and they have been for a long time and no-one could have – no-one could have imagined this to happen. And you know, we just hope that her family and friends are as good as they can be and they are getting the love and support that they deserve. And we are – you know – naturally we are shattered, we are people too.
When you do a prank call – who is supposed – who is the joke supposed to be on? Is it supposed to be on you or is it supposed to be on the people that you call?
MC: The joke – 100% was on us – the idea was never ‘Let’s call up and get through to Kate.’ Or ‘Let’s speak to a nurse.’ The joke was, our accents are horrible, they don’t sound anything like who they are intended to be. And the joke…
MG: The entertainment value wasn’t us, it was meant to be on our silly accents. That is where it was meant to end, it was just meant to be us being silly, getting hung up on.
MC: And I mean, you know, the phone call itself – there was no malice on our behalf, it wasn’t to agitate or to offend or to dig at all, it was – the joke was our accent and we just assumed that the same phone call had been made 100 times that morning. And we were expecting the same result as the 100 calls that had gone before us.
You see, I can see that you are both fragile and I don’t want to make this any worse for you, but I suppose there was a point in that call where the joke ceased to be on you and it became on the two nurses because you had fooled them both. I mean probably you had fooled them both.
MG: That is why there is a process in place for us to record that and for the team to work out what to do with it next but we did everything that we normally do – when we make those prank calls.
MC: And then that was taken out of our hands.
Did anybody after the call was finished – did anyone express any doubts about whether it should be put to air? Did you?
MG: We didn’t have that discussion we just did the process of what we do. We just handed it on to them and they have the discussion.
Who do you hand it on to? I think – a lot of people want to know what the process is here?
MG: I don’t exactly know the process – I honestly don’t know the process.
Presumably it goes to your producer?
MG: There is a whole team; there is a whole team of people that work with us.
MC: And far above, you know.
MG: We just go on and keep recording other stuff or doing other prep, we do that and leave it for everybody else to deal with.
So, there is a producer, there is a team of other people, do you mean lawyers, management? Are they involved?
MC: People far above us – and you know – I am 100% honest in saying that I am – we are not privy to what happens with this call – mind you – this call was no different from anything else, you know. Regardless of the content or the context or what has been recorded, it is the same process and I am certainly not aware of what filters it needs to pass through – all we know is that – it is passed on and then we are told either yea or nay, essentially and they don’t give us too much more than that.
Did you both see it as a bit of a coup? Straight afterwards – I mean before obviously any of this terrible – these terrible consequences, did you think ‘we have done pretty well there?’
MC: It wasn’t a competition to get a scoop, it wasn’t to have something that no-one else had, it wasn’t even…
MG: It was to touch on a hot topic, every other media outlet in the world wanted to touch on Kate being in hospital, that was our way of doing it, to the best of the show’s ability and that was trying to find a different angle. And our angle was having those silly little accents and being hung up on. Other people were trying other ways to get whatever they wanted from the situation and ours was the most innocent thing that we had come up with. It wasn’t meant to go that far. I didn’t expect them to put us through.
Alright, there are calls now for prank calls to be banned on radio – what do you think about that?
MG: I don’t even want to think about going back on air to be honest, I am more worried about the family and that is where the focus should be that they are getting the support that they need, that the other nurse is getting the support that she needs. That everyone is being looked after in this situation because there are other innocent victims involved here as well. The family, you know, her kids…
MC: We are still trying to get our heads around the situation and what happens from here – it is too early to tell, you know, we are so upset and that, as I said heart-broken and sorry for the situation, you know, that has come…
MG: Sorry for the family that they are going through this.
MC: It is not something as I said that we set out to do or could ever have imagined…
Would you like to finish with any sort of message for the family – if they are watching?
MG: I have thought about this 1 million times in my head, that I have wanted to just reach out to them and just [weeping] give them a big hug and just say sorry. And I hope they are OK, I really do…
MC: We just hope that they…
MG: We hope they get through this…
MC: They get the love, the support, the care that they need, you know. I can’t imagine how they feel right now – I mean, we are shattered and you know, just know that it was never intended to be anything. There was no malice, no intent and we just hope that they are OK and that our deepest sympathies are with all of them through – obviously what is an incredibly tough time.
Alright – thank you both for your time.