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Popular ABC Host Quits Live on Air, Says There Are 'Penalties for Speaking Bluntly'

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A popular radio host in Sydney has quit live on air while making a thinly veiled critique of the national broadcaster’s management and its listeners around “uncomfortable conversations.”

“Having truly rational, bull-[expletive] free conversations about controversial issues is risky these days,” Josh Szeps, host of ABC Radio Sydney, said just before the 3 p.m. news on Nov. 15.

“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 radio host, who appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience show and famously entered into a heated debate with the American commentator on the COVID jab, said the fact that controversial topics are risky “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—which is, where am I at most use to the national conversation?” he said.

Mr. Szeps added that regular listeners know him for thriving on controversial discussions.

“You know I am the kid who gets invited to Christmas lunch and then starts talking to people I’m advised not to talk to,” he said.

“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. My hope is that by understanding Uncle Herbie’s point of view I might better understand my own. Everyone might better understand their own.

He explained that his conversations have 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,” he added. “I have Holocaust-surviving grandparents but I’m conflicted about Zionism. I’m an ABC presenter but I don’t like kale.”

Mr. Szeps urged journalists to be “contrarians” rather than “team players.”

“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,” he said.

Mr. Szeps also plugged his podcast titled “Uncomfortable Conversations,” and said he would launch a YouTube show after he finished up with the public broadcaster.

Steve Ahern, acting head of ABC Capital City Networks, said: “Josh’s mixture of playfulness, intellect and fearlessness is one of a kind. We wish him all the best and hope he can contribute his significant talents to the ABC again in the future.”

Mr. Szeps said he will continue with his role at ABC Radio Sydney Afternoons until Dec. 22.






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