Amanda Keller, Jonesy on 'heart events', crashes and radio
CHATTING with Australia's most popular radio duo feels like umpiring a verbal tug-of-war, the dialogue shifting with unexpected ease from tales of a flatulent Barry Manilow to the complexity of hitch-hiking with a slightly deformed thumb.
Brendan "Jonesy" Jones and Amanda Keller have become household names since starting their breakfast talkback gig on WSFM a decade ago.
Last year, they were crowned the country's best on-air team at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, and their back-catalogue of television appearances and cameos is continually growing.
While they have built their careers on never missing a beat, both had reason to take a pause last year - Jonesy more so than Amanda.
The quick-riffing disc jockey rides his Harley-Davidson to work every day and has vowed to continue doing so, even though he had already had nine spills of varying degrees of seriousness by April last year.
But then Jonesy notched up his 10th motorbike crash - and this time it was serious.
He has since recovered after breaking his spine and shoulder in an excruciating accident when his bike lost grip of the road while coming down a hill.
"That's Jonesy's 10th bike accident. It's got people over Christmas saying to me, 'Tell him to stop riding'," Amanda said.
"It's a nice head-clearer, riding a bike, it's good," Jonesy said.
"The falling off bit, that's bad, and I don't want to do that anymore because it just hurts.
"Maybe I should get a car. Maybe I should just hand my genitals in as well."
His on-air opposite number agreed wholeheartedly.
"Once you've scraped them off the road and your bike, sure."
Amanda's own health scare became headline news even though it turned out to be nothing.
"I had a motorcycle accident and broke my back and my shoulder, and Amanda had a little bit of indigestion at a movie, but seemed to get more press," Jonesy explained with a degree of jealousy.
The double act was at a movie premiere when Amanda started to feel unwell and decided to head home.
"I'd done some work with the Victor Chang Foundation, and I knew that women's symptoms for heart attacks are not shooting pains down the arm - often it's a sore jaw," she said.
"My jaw was sore and I was a bit hot and sweaty, so I took a cab home and then my husband took me to the hospital.
"In my naivete, I spoke to Jonesy on the phone the next morning, because it's a big deal not to be here for a breakfast show when you're on air."
The next thing she knew, Amanda's name was plastered across the news as having had a "heart event".
"I thought, 'I've got to call my dad. I'm quite all right'," she said.
"My scare was no more than that, but your bike thing was very serious."
OUT IN THE OPEN
Finding something to talk about for three-and-a-half hours every day means there are very few personal matters that go unbroached, and Jonesy takes obvious joy in ensuring Amanda's secrets become public knowledge.
It makes for great radio.
"Should I bring up the 'manka'?" Amanda asked.
"My left thumb is a little bit different to my right.
"I don't flash the thumb much, but Jonesy has made a big deal of my 'manka' - my manky left thumb - and I've had to publicly own it.
"It's wrecked me for hitch-hiking."
PERKS OF THE JOB
Their career has allowed the duo to meet some of their teenage crushes.
For Amanda, it was the realisation of a lifelong simmering love affair with a poster of feather-haired crooner Barry Manilow.
Jonesy had his own fan-boy moment when Kiss frontman Paul Stanley waltzed into the studio.
Both pop stars had very distinct scents.
"When I was a teenager, just four years ago now, I was madly in love with Barry Manilow," Amanda, 52, said.
"And do you know why I liked him?
"Because he was unattractive, and I thought it meant I was in with a chance."
Amanda said she felt disloyal telling this story, but went ahead with it anyway.
"I went to see him in Vegas with a friend of mine," she said.
"As we posed to have a photo with him at the end, there was some flatulence from him.
"I thought that would wreck everything.
"Actually, that's another highlight of last year - I spoke to Barry on the phone and he said he loved me.
"And it was like all was forgiven.
"But also, the fact that he was so free and easy to pass wind in front of me, it was like we were married.
"My teenage dream had come true."
Paul Stanley's long-tongued foray into the studio still brings back laughs.
They had wanted a photo of the star wearing a station-branded jacket, but he misinterpreted the request and thought he was dishing out signatures.
"One day, in this very building, Paul Stanley was standing right in front of me," Jonesy said.
"He had a wig and he smelt like my auntie.
"He was like a confused old guy, and he signed our jacket and ruined it."
Amanda said meeting celebrities who would have turned her teenage self to jelly was all well and good, but often the most inspiring guests were everyday Australians who, through extreme circumstances, had a story to tell.
She said interviewing Bruce and Denise Morcombe was a career highlight.
"Just the fact that their son Daniel was abducted, and a decade later found to have been murdered, their grace and their determination to help other people - their humility - was incredible," she said.
"(It was) their practical way of trying to externalise their grief to help others.
"To say, in the midst of your darkest moment, you put one foot in front of the other, get up in the morning, and finally you can reclaim your life."
Jonesy agreed, but then fell back to his radio cracks and posited that Kim Kardashian had to be near the top of the inspiration ladder.
CONFUSION IN CANBERRA
When it comes to talking politics, the pair are split over whether Prime Minister Tony Abbott should keep trying to steer a sinking ship to shore or hand over his captaincy.
"I think Tony has blown it," Amanda said.
"Tony has backed himself into a corner by making the entire previous campaign about, 'we don't switch leaders mid-stream' - 'we don't tell the electorate lies'.
"And he's been shown to do exactly those things.
"He makes Bill Shorten look good, and who knew he could do that?"
Jonesy still thought the Prime Minister stood a fighting chance.
"I think he can. I think it would be crazy to swap leaders because of those very reasons you state," he said.
Sir Bob Geldof may have fashioned a persona as a beacon of world peace, but in reality he is arrogance personified, Amanda said.
He came into the studio for an interview and obligingly answered one of her questions.
When Amanda started with a follow-up question, she said Sir Geldof lifted the palm of his hand and pushed it towards her face until she hushed.
"I thought, okay, I see you. I see the sort of person you are," she said.
"And I never got over it. It irritated the hell out of me."
Jonesy's own story was much sadder.
He had interviewed actor Heath Ledger as he was a teenager breaking into the film industry.
"He's dead now, so you feel you can't really bag him," he said.
"But I've interviewed him from when he was on Breakers all those years ago, and I saw this chatty kid who was right into being part of the interview.
"The last time we interviewed him, for Brokeback Mountain, he was just over it.
"After the interview, he kind of warmed up, but during the interview, he was dreadful.
"Each time I interviewed him in my career, he got more and more aloof, which was kind of sad.
"And now that he's dead, we know that his demons took over..."
ANY OTHER JOB
They may not agree on much, but there is one thing both Jonesy and Amanda see eye to eye on.
"We have the best job in the world," Amanda said.
"Radio has so much more freedom and is much harder than television. That's what I love about it.
"Andrew Denton, who I used to work with at Triple M, said you come up with more ideas in one week in radio than you do in a year of television.
"Every day, you feed the machine, and other than having a blog, I can't think of a more freeing job."
Jonesy always knew he was destined for the airwaves - his early jobs patching up sewers, dismantling outboard engines and delivering fridges were just stepping stones to pay the bills before he landed his first gig.
He recalled going on a school trip to Canberra and studying how the radio presenters cross-faded songs and talked over their introductions.
"My only companion, because I had to stay in a room by myself, was a Coca-Cola can radio," he said.
"I just sat there listening to this midnight-to-dawn guy on 2CC, because I was scared - I was there by myself.
"Just listening to that was nice.
"I like listening to radio at night, because it takes me back to that time."
This piece is part of the series, From The Heart: Aussie Icons Speak Out from Australian Regional Media.
In this video series we have also spoken to great Australians including: