Melbourne’s airwaves have erupted in an unusually brutal war of words, with some of its biggest radio and television stars hurling savage insults at each other.
In the latest salvo, top-rating 3AW morning presenter Neil Mitchell has labelled The Project panellist Steve Price an ‘irrelevant’ self-promoter for trying to capitalise on a stoush between him and Eddie McGuire.
‘I really think it’s just him trying to insert himself into something to get some attention,’ Mitchell told Daily Mail Australia.
Mitchell then apologised to Melbourne for giving Price a start on radio in the late 1980s when the pair left the city’s now defunct afternoon newspaper The Herald.
Those barbs follow Price describing Mitchell as ‘pompous’, Mitchell calling McGuire ‘a nasty bastard’ and McGuire accusing Mitchell of being a liar.
Melbourne’s top-rating morning breakfast host Neil Mitchell has called The Project presenter Steve Price ‘irrelevant’ and accused him of trying to capitalise on a stoush between him and Eddie McGuire. Price is pictured with former partner Kim Dennis in 2019
Neil Mitchell (above) recently called Eddie McGuire a ‘nasty bastard’ when they clashed on Mitchell’s 3AW program about the mental health of Collingwood football Jordan De Goey. Steve Price followed that by calling Mitchell ‘pompous’ and ‘self-righteous’
Mitchell has now also accused McGuire of having a ‘glass jaw’ and described Sky News presenter and Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt as ‘boring’.
Mitchell and McGuire have been sparring for years but the 3AW star said in a broadcast on June 23 the Millionaire Hot Seat presenter had ‘crossed the line’.
A day earlier, Mitchell had blasted Collingwood footballer Jordan De Goey after footage emerged of the 26-year-old cavorting with a young female friend while on a mid-season break in Bali.
De Goey tried to link his behaviour to being diagnosed with ADHD after copping a $25,000 suspended fine.
‘Does ADHD turn you into a misogynistic, anti-social Bali boofhead?’ Mitchell asked on his program.
Mitchell and McGuire have been sparring for years but the 3AW star said in a broadcast on June 23 the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire presenter had ‘crossed the line’. He accused McGuire of having a ‘glass jaw’ and blurring the lines ‘between journalist and participant’
McGuire, who was president of Collingwood from 1998 to 2021, hit back at Mitchell on his Channel 9 show Footy Classified that night, saying he had ‘made a mockery’ of De Goey’s ADHD diagnosis.
The next morning the former Triple M host appeared on Mitchell’s program and two of Melbourne’s best-known media figures engaged in a protracted verbal brawl.
Mitchell had begun his show by stating he would not be lectured about controversial remarks by a person with a track record like McGuire’s.
‘Remember this is the same Eddie who called Adam Goodes “King Kong” and wanted to drown [AFL writer] Caroline Wilson at the Big Freeze,’ he told his audience.
McGuire, who has repeatedly apologised for both those comments, fired back that Mitchell had driven people to ‘very dark places’ but would not elaborate on that slur.
In a fiery 20-minute clash Mitchell denied he had been mocking a person with mental health issues and took umbrage at McGuire calling him a liar.
Mitchell had blasted Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey after footage emerged of the 26-year-old cavorting with a young female friend on a mid-season break in Bali (above). De Goey tried to link his behaviour to being diagnosed with ADHD after copping a $25,000 suspended fine
McGuire, 57, had alleged Mitchell invited him on his show under false pretences and suggested he was out of touch with the TikTok generation ‘as a 70-year-old person’.
Mitchell responded: ‘Geez you’re a nasty bastard sometimes. You really are.’
Price penned a piece for the Herald Sun the next day in which he called Mitchell ‘the pompous self-righteous and self-appointed judge and jury of what’s right and wrong about Melbourne.’
The 67-year-old claimed Mitchell and McGuire ‘don’t like each other and never really have’ and it was ‘a bit rich’ for the former to call the latter a nasty bastard.
When Daily Mail Australia put Price’s comments to Mitchell he described him as ‘somebody who’s irrelevant trying to insert themselves into a relevant debate.’
‘What the hell’s it got to do with Steve?’ he said. ‘He’s tyring to use what happened between Eddie and myself to promote himself.
‘I don’t worry about that. I don’t take it seriously. I’ll admit to being pompous at times, but by geez to be lectured about those attributes by Steve is a bit rich.’
Mitchell, McGuire and Price go back decades, having all worked at The Herald when Mitchell was editor, Price chief-of-staff and McGuire a young sports reporter.
‘I know Steve very well and I apologise to the people of Melbourne for imposing him on them,’ Mitchell said.
‘He was chief-of-staff at the Herald when I was editor and I brought him across to radio.
‘As many people around the business often say to me whenever Steve goes off, “It’s your fault, you know” and I plead guilty, it is my fault. I should have left him there.’
Mitchell, McGuire and Price go back decades, having all worked at The Herald when Mitchell was editor, Price chief-of-staff and McGuire a young sports reporter. Mitchell (left) took Price (right) with him to 3AW where he became his producer and later program director
In his column, Price also stated Mitchell was the best editor he had ever worked for and Mitchell partly returned the compliment.
‘Look, you know, Steven was a very good producer and at times he was a very good program director as well but this sort of stuff is just nonsense from him,’ he said.
Mitchell said he had not spoken to Price, who as well as appearing on The Project hosts a national morning radio program on the LiSTNER app, for ‘ages’.
‘I have opinions and I express them and I assume Steve does as well – wherever he is now,’ he said. ‘He’s got a subscriber thing somewhere doesn’t he?’
Less mysterious is where to find Andrew Bolt, the conservative columnist who was a cadet journalist when Mitchell was the The Age’s sports editor.
Sky News presenter and newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt (above) was a cadet at The Age when Neil Mitchell was sports editor. Mitchell said he now sometimes finds Bolt’s commentary boring. ‘He used to be compulsory reading. He’s compulsory glancing now’
Mitchell did not recall once light-heartedly claiming he taught Bolt everything he knows but said the 62-year-old’s commentary ‘can be boring’.
‘I used to really like his column because I thought it was unpredictable,’ he said. ‘It ventured into areas where other people were too timid to go.
‘But there’s a bit of a rotation going on now which others might enjoy, I don’t enjoy it. He used to argue, not rant. He tends to rant a bit these days.
‘He used to be compulsory reading. He’s compulsory glancing now.’
Mitchell had only recently begun a new fortnightly segment with McGuire called Ideas Factory. That segment, for now, will go on.
‘We’ve had some big blues over the years,’ Mitchell said. ‘As I said on the air the other day, I think he’s got a bit of a glass jaw at times and he thinks I’m a pompous old fart.’
Mitchell (above) said he and McGuire had moved on from their latest blow-up and McGuire appeared on his program without incident last Thursday . ‘That day, I’d had a go at him about him having a go at me,’ Mitchell said. ‘I thought he’d crossed the line’
Asked if McGuire really was a ‘nasty bastard’, Mitchell said: ‘He’s not normally but he was that day, yes.’
‘I’ve known him a hell of a long time, since he was a junior reporter. Since he was turning up to work hungover on a Sunday.
‘I’ve got enormous respect for some of the things he’s done. I don’t like his style on other things and he would say the same about me.
‘Sometimes I think he blurs the line between journalist and participant, I’ve had that argument with him, you can’t wear both hats, you’re one or the other.’
Price, who was replaced by Deb Knight on Sydney’s 2GB afternoon shift in 2019, had predicted Mitchell and McGuire would not ‘kiss and make up’ after their latest spat, although they had in the past.
‘There was a bitterness to the clash that sprayed historical venom between the two all over the airwaves, and it’s not fixable,’ he wrote.
Mitchell said the pair had moved on from their recent blow-up and McGuire appeared on his program without incident on July 28.
‘That day, I’d had a go at him about him having a go at me,’ Mitchell said. ‘I thought he’d crossed the line.
‘He mocked my age, which I thought was a silly thing to do. He called me a liar and then he couldn’t substantiate why I was a liar.
‘And he said I’d hounded people to the point of serious darkness, almost as if I’d driven them to the edge of suicide.’
Mitchell said the segment would continue but only if he and McGuire could achieve their goal ‘to get ideas flowing and to get some good energetic discussion going about ideas for Melbourne and Victoria.’
‘I think we’ll get it back on track,’ he said. ‘There’s no point sitting there sniping at each other. It doesn’t do anybody any good.
‘It might be entertaining briefly to the audience but then they move on.
‘I think we’re both sufficiently grown up to move on from it and we both just want the segment to work. If it doesn’t work it won’t continue.’
Neil Mitchell on Sydney talkback kings Ray Hadley and John Laws
Melbourne radio announcers have traditionally been more calm and considered then their Sydney counterparts.
‘There’s certainly a big difference,’ 3AW’s top-rating morning announcer Neil Mitchell says of the nation’s two biggest radio markets.
‘It’s partly an attitude of the people and the city. We believes in walking with the people and not lecturing and hectoring them.
‘I don’t criticise what happens in Sydney. What happens there is good for that market. But it doesn’t work here and it wouldn’t work here.’
Mitchell recalled an encounter with Sydney’s onetime talkback king John Laws which illustrated the difference between the two cities’ audiences.
Neil Mitchell says John Laws (above) summed up the difference between Sydney and Melbourne’s radio markets by bragging about how much money he was paid
‘I remember John Laws perhaps summed it up to me once,’ he said. ‘We were having a disagreement about something.
‘Off-air he said to me, “You’ll never amount to a fraction of what I am. I’ve got this much money and you’ve got comparatively little”.
‘And I said, “Yep, you’re right John, I’ll never have near that amount of money but in Melbourne we don’t judge people on how much money they’ve got – we judge them on what they do and how they do it”.’
Mitchell said he did not listen to other radio shows and was not suggesting all Sydney announcers had similar attitudes to Laws.
‘I don’t say the current crew’s like that, I don’t know them well enough,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. ‘Although Ray Hadley did tell me to stick my head up my arse once.’
In 2017, Mitchell blasted 2GB morning host Hadley for playing a parody version of the Macklemore song Same Love when the American singer performed it at the NRL grand final.
Ray Hadley (above) once said of Neil Mitchell on-air: ‘Well stick your head up your bum Neil, if you want to bag me, ring me’. Mitchell said his own audience just laughed
Mitchell believed Hadley was mocking what had become something of an anthem for gay marriage and said on-air: ‘I thought it was unprofessional and embarrassing, I was appalled’.
Hadley said the parody was played as a ‘gee up’ over the NRL’s decision not to use a local act for the grand final gig, not in opposition to same-sex marriage.
‘Well stick your head up your bum Neil, if you want to bag me, ring me,’ Hadley told his listeners in response.
Hadley went on to call Mitchell a supercilious ‘wanker’ who would not read live commercials on his show because it would threaten his integrity as a journalist.
‘I’ve got more integrity in my little toe than you’ve got you jerk!’ Hadley said.
Mitchell said Melbourne listeners found Hadley’s spray hilarious when he played it to his audience.
‘He told me to stick my head up my arse and I replayed that and all we did was laugh at it,’ he said.
‘If I went on air and said, “Stick you’re head up your arse” they’d be, “What are you doing?” Ray thought he’d been devastating. Everybody thought it was funny.
‘He’s very successful and good luck to him. He knows his audience.’