‘Next top jock’: station rewards royal prank DJ

A still from an interview with 2dayfm presenters Michael Christian and Mel Greig, which aired on A Current Affair late last year. Photo: Image courtesy Channel Nine.One of the two radio announcers at the centre of the disastrous royal prank saga has won a national competition to discover the station’s “next top jock”.

Michael Christian, who six months ago was under fire for his role in the prank call to a London hospital that led to the suicide of a nurse caring for the Duchess of Cambridge, was on Tuesday given the award by his bosses at Southern Cross Austereo.

In a statement, Southern Cross Austereo said it was “thrilled” to crown Christian – who moved into Melbourne’s Fox FM mornings timeslot after being suspended in the wake of the fallout from December’s prank – as the joint winner, alongside Sydney 2Day FM mornings host Ellie Mobbs.

It comes amid reports that management has cut off Mel Greig, Christian’s former co-host who also participated in the prank call.

Last December, Greig and Christian, filling in as hosts of the Hot 30 program, phoned the King Edward VII hospital in London and impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles in a bid to find out more about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy, where the duchess was being treated for morning sickness.

The nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, 46, committed suicide days later. Ms Saldanha did not reveal any information about the duchess’s condition, but transferred the call to her room where another nurse did reveal information.

As part of his victory last night, Christian won a trip to Los Angeles for a tour of the radio studios of the city’s leading station.

In a statement, Christian said: “From the start, I felt like I had something to prove to myself … Regardless of all that’s happened in the past few months, I’m still at the top of my game. So it felt good to see my name at the top of the final leader board!

“If this competition has taught me anything, it’s that there’s a LOT of talent in this company. Plus it’s given all our announcers access to ideas, ways of thinking and people we might [not] normally have day-to-day contact with.”

The judging panel for the awards comprised Southern Cross Austereo’s head of content, Craig Bruce, Fox FM content director Dave Cameron and 2Day FM content director Derek Bargwanna.

Christian’s victory comes as reports at the weekend suggest that Southern Cross Austereo management had cut Greig off.

“The producers [also involved in the prank] and MC [Christian] aren’t having much contact with Mel any more and it seems as though everyone has gone back to work as though nothing has happened,” an unnamed Southern Cross Austereo insider told Adelaide’s Sunday Mail.

Greig’s lawyers say she wants to testify at the inquest on Ms Saldanha – expected to be held in September – while her employers say that they are working for her to return to work “at a time that’s right for her”.

The newspaper also suggested that Greig had been stopped from sending a condolence letter to Ms Saldanha’s family.

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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