Fitz: Quite. So, what was your breakthrough?
OG: Out of school I was 17 and working as a roadie for crappy cover bands before, at 20, I was, devastatingly, unemployed. So I wrote a letter to all the radio stations in the city offering myself as an unpaid intern: “I’ll do anything, I just want to be around.” And a week later I’m driving around in the Black Thunder car for B105 handing out icy cold cans of Coke, and six weeks after that I was on air filling in for someone on the night shift. I’d never been told I was good at anything, not that I really tried. But once I got this chance, I just put my foot to the floor.
Fitz: But you must have been one of 10,000 others across the country scratching at the door of the radio stations at that time. What did you have that propelled you so that when you get on radio, and later TV, people lean forward and don’t lean back?
OG: I was genuinely excited to be there and never lost it. The morning announcer, Craig Bruce – a later icon of Southern Cross Austereo – told me, early on: “Just do one thing for me. The moment that your heart doesn’t race before you turn on the microphone, get out of the chair and let someone else have a go.” Twice in my career, I have recognised that moment: “Oh my God, I don’t want to do this. And if I keep going I’m just going to start resenting it and then being a dick at meetings …” and I got out.
Fitz: And this is what interests me. You go on from that radio start to be, not long afterwards, hosting Australian Idol, and you’re on your way to two decades and counting of TV success. But while the shtick of most TV hosts is: “Things are great now, they’ve always been great, always gonna be great, so tune in next week!” You’re a one-off. You’ve been extraordinarily upfront about your struggles with mental health and your addictions, and you talk about them openly.
OG: Well, from the age of 14, I’d had problems with alcohol. It was what I used “to keep my balloon up” while playing emotional Keepy-Uppy, as in the show Bluey. And then I take the radio job to keep the balloon up, then a TV job, then a bigger TV job. And then eventually the amount of booze and everything that I needed to keep my balloon up was too much. I couldn’t do it any more. And so I had to stop. I just had to stop drinking, which I did, on March 14, 2010.
Fitz: Was that hard?
OG: It was at first. That day, when the sun set, all I wanted to do was to do what I had done every day at sunset, have a drink, but I wanted to not go through the exact same repeated pattern of behaviour, which was to drink too much. So, I had to stop. And, and it gets easier as you rewire your brain.
Fitz: And yours has always been a very interesting brain…
OG: Yes, I also live with obsessive compulsive disorder, and a few other different things. And you have to understand our entire world is thanks to people with different brains. A friend told me once: “Well, who do you think were the cartographers? Who do you think wrote a dictionary? Are you going to tell me that someone with ADHD didn’t write a dictionary? Like, who else could have sat there and written down 100,000 words by hand?” So, you know, I just want people to understand if you or your kid has obsessive compulsive disorder, or a different kind of brain, it doesn’t mean life can’t be incredible. In my case, I just have to live a very deliberate life.
OG: Meaning, you don’t accidentally have good mental health. It’s important to be deliberate about maintaining it, pursuing it, and putting it as a priority in your life. And I’m just trying to put that out there because it wasn’t there when I was young. It was just: “Get hammered at every opportunity.”
Fitz: A lot of successful TV hosts I’ve met over the years define themselves as exactly that – a successful TV host. I’ve never had that sense with you. I’ve always felt that hosting a TV show is something you do, not who you are. So, how do you define yourself?
OG: I’m just a guy who is trying to do my part to be that just a little bit better than I was the day before and try to make connections with the people I love. Because there really is no true sustainable source of happiness that exists outside of helping other people. We had this great author, Rutger Bregman, on the show, and he says: “Charles Darwin got it wrong: It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the friendliest.” Our brains respond well when we help others, when we work together. When we help other people with problems, we therefore survive. So our brains are wired to do that, and the only way of having sustainable happiness is to help another person.
Fitz: Sigh. I know I speak on behalf of all the rugby players of your old school, when I say: Who would have thought that kid, the music nerd always prancing around at All Hallows would have gone on to this life, happily married, successful, making squillions and be wise!
OG: (Laughs.) I am happy. But it’s important to understand that it’s not all chocolate strawberries and balcony sex. Life is up and down. You cannot have day without night. You can’t have hungry without full. You can’t have sleepy without awake. So yeah, you say I’m happy, but I’m happy because – as you see me on TV – after working my way through my problems, I am having the best amount of fun ever in the beautiful city of Sydney, working with incredible people on a show which is purely designed for people to enjoy with their families. So I am trying to enjoy the moment as much as I can.
Fitz: In terms of your reality dating shows, my favourite actual romance story is what happened on season two of The Bachelor. You know the one…
OG: In 2014, I was at a low point. Divorced, alone, lonely, and complaining to my long-time make-up artist Carla about how hard it was to meet someone, how it was impossible to go on Tinder when you were already known. And she said to me she had to go away this weekend and couldn’t do my make-up, but she had lined up a good replacement for me. “She’s lovely,” Carla said, “she has a child, and you’re welcome.” And that was how I met Audrey, this beautiful Fijian goddess. And Carla had given Audrey a check-list of how my make-up was to be done, and at the end of it she had written, “And he’s single.”
We were married two years later, and that’s our three-year-old you can hear.
Fitz: Audrey’s the one!
OG: My old manager Adam Sher told me: “There’s no such thing as the one, there is only the one who’s willing to work on it with you.” If you can find someone who’s willing to work on it with you, then you’ve got gold, so double down. Put a ring on it, seal the deal. You’re out.
Fitz: I once saw a Russell Crowe interview where he talked about how no matter what wealth and fame he has, every time he finishes a movie he feels unemployed. Are you like that between hosting roles?
OG: [Uproarious laughter.] I couldn’t agree more! I feel it less these days, though, as I do my podcast. So there’s always something to keep you busy and my podcast, Better Than Yesterday, is the cornerstone of everything that I’m doing. As to my future, I think all I want to do is the same as every other person. I want to make sure that I’ve got enough work in the next year to pay my mortgage, try and get my super as big as I can get it and make sure my kids turn out better than I do.
Fitz: It’s been a pleasure, thank you.
Joke of the week
The late, great, George Carlin once posed these questions.
- Is there another word for synonym?
- Where do forest rangers go to “get away from it all”?
- Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
- If God dropped acid, would he see people?
- If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
- Whose cruel idea was it for the word “lisp” to have an S in it?
- Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
Quote of the week
“They seem to be the kiss of death. Of the names, initials and love hearts that I have removed, almost all of them say the relationship was going really well until they got the tattoo.” – Geoff Ley, who operates the specialist laser tattoo removal clinic Ink Undone, on the perils of “relationship tattoos”.
Tweet of the month
What they said
“Complaints should not be weaponised. The whole point of these processes is not for media intrusion. It’s for complainants to come forward in a way that they feel comfortable and confident in doing so. What I would ask is that people allow these processes to be implemented and put in place so … that’s how we increase respect.” – Dominic Perrottet pleading with everyone to be nice to politicians as he prepares to convene the first meeting of a cross-party committee responding to the landmark report exposing a toxic workplace culture in the NSW parliament.
“Cancer diagnosis is something that so many people face every single day, and countless others have walked this path before me. The one thing I know for sure is that we have the best specialist healthcare professionals in Victoria, and we can all be grateful for that. I know I am.” – A statement from John Farnham as he went into hospital for treatment of a cancerous growth in his mouth.
“The former Prime Minister undermined basic principles of our democracy, he trashed the parliamentary responsibility. He was just thumbing his nose at our parliament.” – Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus with his opinion about the Scott Morrison affair.
“Scott Morrison owes the Australian people an apology for undermining our parliamentary democracy, something that can’t be taken for granted.” – Anthony Albanese.
“I … regret any offence caused.” – Scott Morrison, in a statement, trying to move past the Scott Morrison affair. (Strange, yes, that the whole thing hasn’t really yet got a tag?)
“I think it’s important we understand everything that happened here. We need to understand it from a legal point of view. But whatever the legal outcome here is, what is really clear is that Scott Morrison treated the Australian people with complete contempt. But he’s [also treated] his own colleagues with contempt.” – Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.
“Private sexual behaviour between consenting adults does not raise any law and order issue. There is no justification to prosecute people for it nor to make it a crime. This will bring the law into line with current social mores and, I hope, provide some relief to gay Singaporeans.” – Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announcing that the city-state would repeal the colonial-era law that makes gay sex a criminal offence.
“We await your writ so that we can test this important issue of freedom of public interest journalism in a courtroom.” – Crikey publisher, Eric Beecher, in an open letter to Lachlan Murdoch published as an ad in the New York Times, inviting him to sue Crikey for defamation. It followed a column by Bernard Keane which alleged the Murdochs were “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The younger Murdoch quickly obliged.
“It’s not uncommon for a new government to enjoy a honeymoon period where voters are hopeful for change under the new management. But the size of Labor’s vote gain is more than that. This is a relieved electorate affirming they collectively made the right choice. Labor has used its first 100 days to get runs on the board on wages, foreign affairs and climate, set up a social agenda and manage expectations on economic issues. In doing so, they’ve reassured and converted a segment of around eight per cent of the electorate, taking that support from a new opposition that nobody is listening to yet.” – Jim Reed, director of Resolve Strategic. The company’s survey showed voters have cut their primary vote support for the Coalition from 36 to 28 per cent since the election and has given Prime Minister Anthony Albanese a commanding lead over Opposition Leader Peter Dutton of 55 to 17 per cent as preferred prime minister.
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