SATTLER, HOWARD (1945– )
During an era that saw the rise of shock jock-driven talkback in commercial radio, Howard Sattler defined the genre in Perth, as part of the network that nurtured Alan Jones (Sydney) and Neil Mitchell (Melbourne).
Sattler began his career as a cadet journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1963. After completing national service, he joined Perth’s Independent Sunday newspaper in 1970 as a senior reporter (later managing editor) before moving to television in 1974, working as reporter and subsequently chief of staff for TVW7.
He joined 6PR in 1979 as news director, and in 1981 began The Sattler File as a half-hour commentary program that then expanded into a longer talkback format. The program was to occupy a variety of timeslots over the years, and Sattler even relocated it to Sydney station 2SM in 2000. He moved back to Perth in 2001, broadcasting his New South Wales and Queensland program from there. In 2003, he returned to 6PR, taking over the breakfast and later drive timeslots. Throughout his career, Sattler featured as a regular commentator in print, television and online media in Perth.
Sattler attracted controversy over the years, especially during the 1990s when he was Perth’s highest-rating talkback radio presenter. His public crusade against juvenile crime culminated in the Rally for Justice in August 1991; the event attracted 30,000 people and led the then state Labor government to introduce mandatory juvenile detention legislation, which was criticised for effectively targeting Indigenous young people. In 2001, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found 6PR guilty of allowing program guests to racially vilify Noongar religious beliefs and fined the station for breaching the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 on Sattler’s program.
In 1999–2000, Sattler was caught up in the ‘cash for comment’ scandal when the Australian Broadcasting Authority found that 6PR was in breach of the broadcasting codes over broadcasts that had mentioned his sponsors.
Despite these controversies he was the recipient of many industry accolades during his radio career, including national RAWARDs and New York Festivals International Radio Awards.
Sattler’s broadcasting career came to an abrupt end in June 2013 when he was fired by 6PR after what the station described as a disrespectful interview with Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
REFs: R. Johnson, Cash for Comment (2000); C. Stockwell, ‘The Role of the Media in the Juvenile Justice Debate in Western Australia’, National Conference on Juvenile Justice, Canberra (1992).