Grimshaw: 'It was intense'
Tracey Grimshaw has called her interview with the 2Day Fm presenters 'intense' describing how the pair's entourage filled the room.PT1M39S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2b5cj 620 349 December 10, 2012
2Day FM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian have spoken of being "shattered, gutted, heartbroken" by the death of a nurse they spoke to during a prank phone call last week.
In an interview on A Current Affair which screened on Monday night, Christian defended the pair's role in the broadcasting of the prank call.
"It's not up to us to make that decision (broadcasting the call). It goes to other departments to make the call."
Sorry ... 2Day FM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian.
A teary Greig agreed, saying there was no way they could've predicted what happened.
"We don't get to make those decisions. Our job is to record and get the audio ... and act upon as we're told."
Greig told Today Tonight of the sorrow the pair are going through.
Interviewing the DJs ... Tracy Grimshaw of A Current Affair. Photo: Getty
"If we played any involvement in her death then we're very sorry for that. And time will only tell."
"We couldn't foresee what was going to happen in the future."
Christian told A Current Affair the idea for the call came in a brainstorming meeting with the rest of the show's team.
Interview ... Grimshaw snapped at the 2Day FM Goulburn Street, Sydney offices on Monday. Photo: @campricenews
"It was just the team sitting down before the show - just had the idea for just a simple harmless phone call," Christian said. "... when we thought about making a call, it was going to go for 30 seconds. We were going to be hung up on, and that was it."
Greig added: "We thought a hundred people before us would've tried it. We thought it was such a silly idea and the accents were terrible and not for a second did we expect to speak to Kate, let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on."
Died ... Jacintha Saldanha, pictured with her family. Photo: Facebook
Asked how they reacted when told of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha - who put through their prank call to the nurse on duty on the Duchess of Cambridge's ward - both DJs broke down in tears. Greig said it was "gut wrenching", the worst phone call of her life.
Christian agreed, saying: "Shattered, gutted, heartbroken and obviously you know... our deepest sympathies are with the family and the friends".
Later in the interview, Christian was adamant the effect of the prank call could not have been foreseen.
"These 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've imagined this to happen," Christian said.
Grimshaw told Fairfax Media this afternoon that the interview was "very intense" with a lot of people in the room, including radio station staff and supporters.
The pair, who have been facing global condemnation after the death of Mrs Saldanha, broke their silence on Monday afternoon in a pair of interviews with Grimshaw and Seven's Clare Brady from Today Tonight.
Grimshaw said she felt sympathy for the pair.
"They’re at a certain point on the food chain. There are other people who made the decision to put it to air, it wasn’t live to air, there was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them," Grimshaw said.
"So I have some sympathy for them in that regard."
Grimshaw said she was mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile and the interview was a chance for the hosts to say what they wanted to say.
"What has happened with this poor nurse in England is not going to be helped by bullying these two people into some sort of breakdown. I was very mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile, and very mindful of not becoming part of the problem.
'A deeply tragic, unforeseen circumstance'
The boss of 2Day FM said on Monday morning that staff from the station had tried at least five times to contact those involved in the prank call.
Christian and Greig had claimed to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and asked after the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who was in the King Edward VII hospital suffering from an acute form of morning sickness.
Mrs Saldanha put the call through to the London hospital ward of the recovering Duchess of Cambridge.
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of 2Day FM’s parent company Austereo, reiterated on Monday that what had occurred was "a deeply tragic, unforseen circumstance" but that he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast.
"It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions. We rang them up to discuss what we had recorded. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We did want to speak to them about it," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Later, he said: "The day prior [to Mrs Saldahna’s death], people took it as a harmless prank in good humour."
Greig and Christian’s program has been suspended and advertising on the station has been suspended until Wednesday. The station has not yet said when, or if, the presenters will return to the airwaves.
All Austereo staff were called to a meeting on Monday at 9am; employees have been gagged from speaking publicly without permission.
Mr Holleran’s comments come as online vigilante group Anonymous is believed to have threatened the broadcaster in light of Mrs Saldanha’s death.
Using a new account on YouTube with the group’s branding, a person wearing a mask similar to that used by Anonymous members said 2Day FM was "directly responsible" for Mrs Saldanha’s death.
The video, uploaded from an account named An-onym Oz, purports to be from Anonymous but contains a spelling error in its opening titles. ‘‘Hello citizens of the world, we are Anonyomous,’’ it reads.
"We have listened to your excuses. We have heard the word ’prank’ a million times," the person in the video says, in a digitally altered voice.
"We have studied the facts and found you guilty of murder. You have placed yourself in an untenable position. You have placed your advertisers at risk - their databases, their websites, their online advertising.
"We are Anonymous and hereby demand you terminate the contracts of Mel Greig and Michael Christian. We will not listen to any more excuses. We will not let you escape your responsibility. You have a funeral to pay for. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We are amongst you. Expect us. This is not a prank call; this is no laughing matter. This is your one and only chance to make amends. You have one week to do so."
In Australia, New South Wales police are now helping Scotland Yard with its investigation into Mrs Saldanha’s death.
Mr Holleran said on Monday that he had not spoken to police "at this point in time".
He said he did not believe any Australian Communications and Media Authority codes governing radio broadcasts had been breached or that the station’s licence was in jeopardy.
He said the company was happy to discuss the issue with any investigators.
"We have said we won’t be running that style of call until we do [investigate] ... this isn’t a witch-hunt and I don’t intend for it to be that way.
"If it’s appropriate to make changes, we will make changes, make no mistake about that."
* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.