- Josh Szeps quits ABC while on air
- He takes veiled shot at ‘penalties’
- READ MORE: Q+A backlash
An ABC host has quit live on air saying he was ‘too spicy’ for the gig and that he wanted ‘uncomfortable conversations’ that did not fit with broadcaster’s limitations.
Josh Szeps announced he is giving up his ABC Radio Sydney Afternoons show midway through his Wednesday shift just before the 3pm news bulletin.
Szeps said he will continue until the end of the ratings year but would not be signing a contract to resume next year.
During a lengthy monologue Szeps said could ‘spin a lot of PR guff’ but ‘if you know me you would know I don’t do bulls*** I am a straight shooter’
‘I am bit too spicy for this gig, aren’t I?’ he asked.
While he said he loved the ABC, along with his colleagues and listeners, what he enjoys most ‘above all else is having uncomfortable conversations about the evocative issues we face’.
‘Having truly rational, bulls***-free conversations about controversial issues is risky these days,’ he said.
‘The penalties for speaking bluntly, the penalties for trying to coax people out of their thought silos and their echo chambers are very high.
‘The fact that it’s risky only makes it more important to me. The fact I have found a way of doing it independently that is financially viable leads me to the question that I have been mulling over ever since chatter about the 2024 [ABC] line-up began.’
Szeps, who is known in the United States as a former host of Huff Post Live, once appeared on the hugely popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast and got into a heated debate with the comedian.
The two clashed in January last year when Szeps pushed back on Rogan’s claim young men who receive the Covid jab had a higher risk of heart inflammation.
The broadcaster admitted during his monologue that he thrives more hard-hitting conversations and has become somewhat of a ‘misfit’ at the ABC.
‘I’m a child of refugees, but I’m a white Australian. I’m a gay guy, but I hate Mardi Gras.
‘I have Holocaust-surviving grandparents but I’m conflicted about Zionism. I’m an ABC presenter but I don’t like kale.’
He said regular listeners would know he is ‘the kid who gets invited to Christmas lunch and then starts talking to people I’m advised not to talk to’.
‘Like Uncle Herbie who might have voted for Pauline Hanson.
‘As that old codger farts his way through the potato salad I will have an uncomfortable conversation with him.
‘Maybe all I do is make the prim and proper partygoers uncomfortable, but that is not my intention.
‘Maybe there’s values in consciously defying bubbles of conversational safety.
‘I don’t want to be at a Christmas lunch where everyone talks in ways to reassure everyone else they are on the correct side of worthy issues.’
Szeps said journalists couldn’t be ‘team players’ and should be ‘contrarians’.
‘The way to expand the conversation is to expand the people having the conversation, not just in ways that prioritise superficial diversity but in ways that reward true idiosyncrasy.’
Szeps indicated he would be concentrating on his podcast Uncomfortable Conversations and will be creating a YouTube program with the team behind the satirical Betoota Advocate in 2024.
‘My podcast has become a place where we I have having nonsense free conversations about the most controversial challenges we face,’ he said calling it ‘one of the most successful Australian interview shows in the world’.
There were also potential book and TV deals in the pipeline.
He noted that during his stint Sydney’s afternoons had been competitive with commercial rival 2GB and took a small dig at the Melbourne version, which he noted hadn’t done as well.
‘I have loved spending my afternoons with you,’ he said.
‘I am so privileged to have had this show, it’s an incredible honour to have a show on the ABC.’