ABC Melbourne Breakfast co-host Sami Shah has made some startling revelations in the Wil Anderson podcast Wilosophy.
Shah and Jacinta Parsons took over Breakfast duties from Red Symons at the start of the year, but there was one hurdle to overcome before he was allowed on air.
The Pakistan-born comedian has revealed he was sent to a speech therapist, initially to get him to slow his delivery, but it soon became a bit more.
“They said it was to get me to slow down because I talk too fast, which I agree with. It helped with that. That was lesson one.
“Lesson two to 16 somehow became about getting a bit of the brown out of my voice, which is the way I describe it. It was about flattening out my actual Pakistani accent.
“They can say it was because I was not easily understood but I think, also, my personal belief is a level of it was also to provide comfort to the audience.”
However, Shah says he remains grateful to the ABC for taking a chance on him, recognising he may not have been given that chance in the commercial world.
“I’m very aware of the fact I might not have gotten this if it was on commercial television or radio.
“It is only the ABC that would have put me on air. I’m grateful for that.”
“You don’t hear someone with an immigrant voice on-air, even though Melbourne is an immigrant city. From the ABC’s perspective, it was a conscious choice.”
The gamble in pairing Shah with ex-3RRR presenter Parsons has yet to pay off for the ABC with the show losing market share in the first four surveys of the year.
But the comedian is asking for the chance to be treated ‘equally’.
“Let us screw up as much as the white host before me screwed up.
“If I get drunk and turn up outside a women’s bikini waxing salon and yell at all the women as they’re coming out and they still don’t take me off air, I know I’m being treated as an equal.”