Rumours are swirling about the future of Lawrence Mooney at Triple M Sydney after he was mysteriously pulled from the airwaves last Wednesday.
But it’s far from the only drama to befall the hosts of ‘Moonman in the Morning’.
From one presenter’s stint in rehab to the star’s illegal lockdown breach, take a look inside what is arguably Australia’s most toxic radio show.
Triple M Sydney’s Moonman in the Morning has been plagued by scandals and reports of tension between hosts. Pictured (L-R): Co-hosts Chris ‘Pagey’ Page, Jess Eva and Lawrence Mooney
Chris Page going to rehab
Moonman in the Morning co-host Chris ‘Pagey’ Page made headlines in August after revealing on air he’d spent a month in a treatment facility for alcohol addiction.
Page, 56, who had been off the air during his time in the rehab centre, told his fellow presenters Lawrence Mooney and Jess Eva he wanted to fight the stigma surrounding addiction and recovery by speaking publicly about his struggles.
‘I didn’t want to do what so many people do… because it really bothers me, particularly anyone in the media or anyone in the public eye, you’ll often read about someone taking extended leave for “exhaustion”. Um, that’s crap,’ he said.
‘There’s a real stigma around rehab, and if people can’t be open about it, then no one’s going to talk about it, and that stigma just grows.’
Rehab: Co-host Chris Page (centre) made headlines in August after revealing on air he’d spent a month in a treatment facility for alcohol addiction Pictured with fellow radio anchors Ben Fordham (left) and Tim Blackwell (right)
The radio anchor said there’s ‘nothing wrong’ with accepting when ‘something feels out of control’, and that there’s always help available for people with addiction.
‘It’s not junkies and wackos and freaks in rehab; it is normal people, like you and me – all walks of life,’ Page added.
‘It is completely normal people who have just let something – drugs or alcohol or gambling – they’ve just let it slide and just over time, it’s got out of control and they’ve said “You know what? I just need to circuit break, I need to get in here and take care of this now”.’
Page also sent a message to other celebrities in rehab for drugs or alcohol.
‘Stop lying and saying you’re exhausted,’ he said.
‘Stop lying’: Page also sent a message to other celebrities who claim they’re taking a break from work due to ‘exhaustion’ when in reality they’re in rehab for drugs or alcohol
‘Say you’re in rehab so we can let people know there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s no big deal, and it might save your life.’
Page concluded by saying he was in a good place and feeling better than ever since checking out of rehab.
Feuds and controversial comments
Lead anchor Mooney’s feuds with other celebrities has sparked controversy in recent months.
In January, the 56-year-old sparked a war of words with Byron Bay model Ruby Tuesday Matthews after mocking her in a scathing segment about influencers.
Clash: Mooney (left) sparked a feud with Byron Bay model Ruby Tuesday Matthews (right) in January after mocking her in a scathing segment about influencers
Mooney had referred to social media influencers as ‘low-hanging fruit’ who ‘prostitute themselves online for free products’.
He also made special mention of Matthews, who was infamously labelled ‘entitled’ after Daily Mail Australia revealed she held up a Jetstar flight to eat oysters in October last year.
‘This bird can go and get shucked!’ he joked, referring to the ‘oystergate’ scandal.
Not happy: A seething Matthews lashed out at Mooney on Instagram Stories, saying: ‘It really does go to show how low the human race is’
A seething Ruby lashed out at Lawrence on Instagram Stories, uploading a photo of the comedian with a pig emoji covering his face.
‘Someone just sent me this and I’m utterly gobsmacked. It really does go to show how low the human race is,’ she wrote.
‘If all you can do is completely right [sic] off a single mum to make a segment, what do you really have going for yourself and your D grade radio show.’
Outraged: The mother of two called Mooney an ‘a**hole’ and encouraged her fans to retaliate by leaving negative comments on his Instagram account
Ruby then insisted she doesn’t promote brands in exchange for freebies.
‘To say I prostitute myself out for products, it’s a complete lie. I actually get paid lol! To call me low hanging fruit and say I “w**re myself out” is a disgusting comment to make about anyone, let alone a mother of two small boys,’ she raged.
She concluded by calling Lawrence an ‘a**hole’, and encouraged her fans to retaliate by leaving negative comments on his Instagram account.
Mooney once again raised eyebrows during an awkward discussion about the Covid vaccine on Today Extra in June.
Jab controversy: Mooney once again raised eyebrows during an awkward discussion about the Covid-19 vaccine on Today Extra in June
Mooney, who was a guest on the Nine show, told hosts David Campbell and Belinda Russell he wasn’t vaccinated because he ‘didn’t want to die’.
Campbell, Russell and guest contributor Michelle Stephenson then listed stats that suggested people are more likely to die on a plane than from the AstraZeneca jab.
Mooney later blasted the presenters on his radio program, saying: ‘All eyes turned to me and asked me if I’d been vaccinated. There was a pile-on that ensured.’
‘You’re not going to die!’: Mooney, who was a guest on the Nine show, told hosts David Campbell and Belinda Russell he wasn’t vaccinated because he ‘didn’t want to die’: Pictured (L-R): Campbell, Michelle Stephenson, Vince Sorrenti and Sylvia Jeffreys on Today Extra
He then insisted there wasn’t a higher chance of dying from flying, maintaining that Qantas has ‘never lost a life’.
Mooney pointed out that the government had changed the recommended age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 60 just two hours after the TV debate.
He felt this decision validated his concerns and was frustrated over the TV ‘pile-on’.
‘You’ve been vindicating me for my hesitancy,’ he said.
‘Dave Campbell, Belinda Russell, Michelle Stephenson, Today Extra, you can’t pile onto me when the government immediately moves the goal posts, you can’t!’
A month later, Mooney again made headlines for the wrong reasons after rumours began circulating of a feud erupting behind the scenes at Southern Cross Austereo.
Sources told Daily Mail Australia senior managers had been forced to intervene after Mooney sent his stablemate David ‘Hughesy’ Hughes an ‘offensive text message’.
Text tiff? In July, sources told Daily Mail Australia that senior managers at Southern Cross Austereo had been forced to intervene after Mooney (right) sent his stablemate David ‘Hughesy’ Hughes (left) an ‘offensive text message’
Their feud apparently began when Hughesy, who co-hosts 2Day FM’s Morning Crew, invited Mooney’s co-anchor Jess Eva, 36, onto his own show but failed to promote Moonman in the Morning – despite both programs being part of the same network.
Mooney was reportedly furious over the ‘snub’ and fired off a text message to Hughesy that contained offensive language.
Hughesy allegedly then went straight to Southern Cross Austereo’s head of HR to complain, and Mooney was ordered to apologise.
Moonman breaks lockdown
Mooney also caused controversy in June when he was caught flouting Covid restrictions after travelling to Byron Bay for a holiday.
The presenter, who copped a $1,000 fine for his breach, made a public apology on air the following month.
‘I’d like to apologise to the Triple M family for acting like king c’**k of c**k Island,’ he said.
He claimed he took ‘full responsibility’ for his actions, before criticising himself for acting like ‘the rules didn’t apply’ to him.
Mooney lives in the Southern Highlands and works in the Sydney CBD, and did not self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Byron.
He went on to say he understood the severity of the situation, before pleading with others to not follow his example.
‘My actions, were they to be repeated, could end up in extended lockdowns, illness and death. That’s the height of the stakes we’re talking about, and I don’t shirk from the seriousness or my part as an example to others,’ he said.
Apology: The presenter, who copped a $1,000 fine for his breach, made a public apology on air the following month
‘I should have stayed put, but instead headed to Byron Bay to holiday when I should have stayed home.’
He shared several photos on social media during his getaway to Bryon Bay.
His activities included a spot of horse riding, as well as a catch-up with fellow comedian Jimeoin at the Hotel Brunswick.
Before his on-air mea culpa, Mooney had initially apologised and told The Daily Telegraph he didn’t realise the restrictions applied to him.
‘I feel like an absolute goose for not realising I wasn’t permitted to travel to Byron Bay during my break,’ he said.
‘I live in a green zone (the Southern Highlands) and am permitted to travel to Sydney for work as an essential service worker.
‘I travelled directly between home and work. I mistakenly believed because my home is in a green zone and Byron Bay is in a green zone I could travel there. I also had a Covid test before I departed.’
Shock claims: Ben Fordham later lashed out at the Triple M star on his 2GB radio show, telling his listeners: ‘I know Lawrence, he’s not a bad person, but he’s had a shocker here’
Ben Fordham later lashed out at the Triple M star on his 2GB radio show.
‘I know Lawrence, he’s not a bad person, but he’s had a shocker here,’ Fordham said.
‘There’s a problem. He did know he wasn’t allowed to travel to Byron Bay, and I’ll prove it to you right now.’
He then played damming audio of Mooney reading out the lockdown rules on his show before jetting off to Byron Bay.
After airing the audio, Fordham said: ‘When he was busted, Lawrence Mooney said he feels like an absolute goose for not realising.
‘Lawrence, you knew you couldn’t go – you said it yourself! Busted. Lawrence Mooney, you can’t be serious.’
Tensions between co-hosts
Sources told Daily Mail Australia this week Mooney is set to lose his $2million contract ‘imminently’ – a week after he was mysteriously pulled from the air.
The presenter has apparently caused issues at the station in recent months, after clashing with several staff members, most notably co-host Jess Eva.
Eva, who joined Moonman in the Morning three years ago, has not publicly commented on why her co-host hasn’t been on air for a week.
Network executives are also struggling to justify Mooney’s rumoured $2million paycheck given the program’s meagre ratings.
He was hired to host the show in January 2019 on a $750,000 salary, which was boosted to between $1.5million and $2million for 2020 and 2021, sources say.
Tensions? The presenter has apparently caused issues at the station in recent months after clashing with several staff members, most notably co-host Jess Eva
Team: Eva, who joined Moonman in the Morning three years ago, has not publicly commented on why her co-host hasn’t been on air for a week or industry talk the pair have fallen out. Lawrence and Jess are pictured at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards in 2019 with co-host Chris Page
His contract expires in 2022.
Since its launch, Moonman in the Morning has struggled to contend with other FM breakfast shows, earning a 4.6 per cent market share in the latest radio survey.
The show peaked at a 6.9 per cent market share when it debuted in 2019 after taking over The Grill Team, which ended its nine-year run with a 5.4 per cent share at the end of 2018.
Moonman in the Morning never reached the heights of its predecessor, which routinely pulled in shares over seven per cent in its heyday.
The Grill Team was hosted by former rugby league player Matty Johns, who quit the station in November 2018 to concentrate on his television career.
In contrast, KIIS 106.5’s market leader The Kyle and Jackie O Show soared in the latest ratings with a 10.7 per cent share.
Listeners were left puzzled over Mooney’s absence from his regular 104.9 Triple M Sydney slot over the past week.
The radio station has provided no information as to why he hasn’t been on the air, with a Southern Cross Austereo spokesperson simply telling Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday: ‘Lawrence Mooney is currently off air.’
Mooney has co-hosted Moonman in the Morning since 2019 alongside Page and Eva.
Recipe for success: Jess joined the radio show after becoming a star during the 2017 season of The Block
That same year, he won an Australian Commercial Radio Award (ACRA) for Best Entertainment Presenter.
The Moonman mystery took another turn on Thursday after Mediaweek claimed Mooney was ‘unhappy’ with Triple M’s decision to add retired footy star Mark ‘MG’ Geyer to the breakfast team in 2022.
After initial reports his issues with management were caused by tension with Eva, the new rumour was he also took umbrage with Geyer joining his squad; however it’s understood his recent absence from Triple M is not related to Geyer’s hiring.
More rumours: The Moonman mystery took another turn on Thursday after Mediaweek claimed Mooney (left) was ‘unhappy’ with Triple M’s decision to add retired footy star Mark ‘MG’ Geyer (right) to the breakfast team in 2022
Geyer is no stranger to Triple M Sydney – he was a presenter on the network’s former breakfast show The Grill Team with Matty Johns and Gus Worland from 2009 to 2017.
Triple M Sydney content director Rex Morris said of Geyer joining the breakfast team: ‘We’re expecting MG’s involvement on Moonman in the Morning to be an extension of what he already brings to the show on a weekly basis. He’s famously connected to sport, and the ripping yarns around it.
‘He lives and breathes our city’s west, curiously he manages to sing nearly every time he’s on the show and he loves a laugh.’