Second Major Radio Host Resigns From Public Broadcaster

‘His dedicated listeners will miss his enquiring mind, curiosity, and desire to challenge ideas,’ the ABC said.
Second Major Radio Host Resigns From Public Broadcaster
The front entrance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) head office, the Ultimo Centre, in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 18, 2023. (Wade Zhong/The Epoch Times)
Henry Jom

Popular conservative radio host Tom Switzer is the latest journalist to resign from Australia’s national public broadcaster.

This comes just weeks after Josh Szeps, also from ABC, quit live on air weeks ago while criticising the broadcaster’s content control.

In a statement published on Nov. 24, Mr. Switzer said he was leaving the ABC to focus on his role as the executive director of the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), a Sydney-based conservative think tank.

Mr. Switzer is also a former academic, former editor, and senior adviser to former federal Liberal Party Leader Brendan Nelson.

Mr. Switzer began his tenure at the ABC in 2015 as host of “Between The Lines,” a weekly radio program and podcast covering international issues and events.

The program states that it puts “contemporary international issues and events into a broader context,” while also seeking out “original perspectives and challenging accepted wisdoms.”

“I have been very fortunate to work on various programs at ABC’s Radio National for the best part of a decade, especially Between The Lines,” Mr. Switzer said.

“I have learnt a lot about the craft of serious interviewing on the public broadcaster, and I am very grateful for all the support I’ve received from many producers, audio engineers, and management.”

In a post on X, the CIS said: “After close to a decade at the ABC, our Executive Director, Tom Switzer has today bid farewell to his radio program, ‘Between the Lines’, to focus more on his day job with us.”

Mr. Switzer’s final episode on Radio National Summer will air on Jan. 20, 2024.

ABC’s Radio National manager, Cath Dwyer, said the outgoing radio host brought “a depth of knowledge” on foreign affairs and “a variety of voices and perspectives” to the ABC.

“His dedicated listeners will miss his enquiring mind, curiosity, and desire to challenge ideas,” Ms. Dwyer said.

Real Reasons for Departure

However, despite Ms. Dwyer’s comments, Mr. Switzer’s departure was reported to be due to him being the “lone conservative” at the ABC, reported The Australian.

“Tom’s editorial decisions for the show were beginning to upset the sensibilities of some staff and even friends of the ABC,” an anonymous ABC source told The Australian.

The Epoch Times has not determined the authenticity of this source.

“It wasn’t what his guests would say—he always challenges them—but just the mere gesture of giving some people a platform got people off-side.

“There is always a different side to the story, sometimes even three sides, that’s what the organisation needs to understand. Apart from Vanstone [former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone] what other conservative voices do they have in there? It is moving dangerously into groupthink territory.”

Another anonymous source told The Australian that Mr. Switzer had been “ruffling feathers” since the beginning of his tenure as he “dared give guests who wouldn’t usually appear on the ABC the time of day.”

“You would remember back in 2015 when he had Nigel Lawson (former UK politician) on the program explaining his concerns about the dangers of climate change alarmist.”

High-Profile Journalists Depart the ABC

Mr. Szeps had announced on Nov. 15 that he would be vacating his role as ABC Radio Sydney host.

Mr. Szeps, 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 were risky “makes it more important to me.”

“Having truly rational, bull-[expletive] free conversations about controversial issues is risky these days,” he 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.”

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

High-profile journalists’ Stan Grant and wife Tracey Holmes also announced their resignation from the ABC.

Mr. Grant walked away from the ABC and as host of the flagship Q&A program after he received racial abuse and criticism for the ABC’s coverage of King Charles III’s coronation in early May.

Ms. Holmes, a senior sports journalist whose career has spanned five decades, announced her resignation from the ABC in late October.

Ms. Holmes has accused the public broadcaster of losing its backbone and for being “agenda-driven,” and said she found it difficult to report on some of her stories as the industry had been overrun by “systems and processes and admin” as well as “box-ticking.”

The veteran journalist says that she was not criticising the entire ABC and its staff, but hopes that the public broadcaster “finds its way back.”

Henry Jom is an Australian-based reporter who focuses on Australian and health-related news. He has a bachelor's in health science, specialising in rehabilitation, and is currently completing a postgraduate degree in law. Henry can be contacted at [email protected]