Radio presenter Jackie ‘O’ Henderson announced on Monday she was stepping down from her top-rating KIIS FM breakfast show for health reasons.

Henderson, 47, who has been coughing and sounding unwell on air for weeks, explained she had been suffering from poor health since contracting Covid-19 a few months ago and needed proper rest to recover from the virus.

She told listeners she would be off the air for the next ‘couple of weeks’ and did not specify a return date. Given the end of the ratings year isn’t far off, however, there is a real possibility she won’t be back on air until early next year.

Podcast host Brittany Hockley, who presents the Life Uncut radio show for KIIS FM on weekends, will be filling in as co-anchor while Henderson recuperates.

Radio presenter Jackie ‘O’ Henderson (pictured) announced on Monday she was stepping down from her top-rating KIIS FM breakfast show for health reasons

While Henderson had been broadcasting from home in recent weeks, she was still struggling with the early starts and doctors advised her to take extended leave.

‘Ever since picking up that virus, I’ve been to the doctor several times and he said because I’ve been pushing myself every day, after the show all I’ve been doing is sleeping and I’m not getting better,’ she explained.

‘I feel it’s got worse. I can hear it,’ replied her co-host Kyle Sandilands, who noted that Henderson couldn’t even laugh without going into a coughing fit. 

Henderson (right, with co-host Kyle Sandilands) explained she had been suffering from poor health since contracting Covid-19 and needed proper rest to recover from the virus

Henderson (right, with co-host Kyle Sandilands) explained she had been suffering from poor health since contracting Covid-19 and needed proper rest to recover from the virus 

‘I just have to take some time off,’ Henderson added. ‘I’m ending the show today. As in now.’ 

She continued: ‘You know how much this show means to me. You know how much I push through everything, and I would not be doing this unless I absolutely had to.

‘Without going into detail, I’m fine. I just…’ she said, before Sandilands asked her gravely: ‘Are you dying? You have cancer?’

She responded that she wasn’t dying, nor did she have cancer, but just needed ‘proper, serious rest’ on doctor’s orders.

‘He basically said, “If you keep doing this, this is going to get much worse,” and I’ve taken his advice,’ she said.

‘I rarely take doctors’ advice, I’m usually like, “Nah, it’ll be fine.” [But] at least I will be all better and back with you guys soon.’

'I feel it's got worse. I can hear it,' said her co-host Kyle Sandilands (pictured), who noted that Henderson couldn't even laugh without going into a coughing fit

‘I feel it’s got worse. I can hear it,’ said her co-host Kyle Sandilands (pictured), who noted that Henderson couldn’t even laugh without going into a coughing fit

When Sandilands asked for a timeframe for her return, Henderson said: ‘It’s just for a couple of weeks, guys.’

He then joked it was all just a ruse because twice-divorced Henderson had ‘taken a lover’ in secret – which she denied.

‘It’s just the rest, early mark, that’s kind of it,’ she said.

'I just have to take some time off,' Henderson said. 'I'm ending the show today.' (Henderson and Sandilands are pictured at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards in Sydney last month)

‘I just have to take some time off,’ Henderson said. ‘I’m ending the show today.’ (Henderson and Sandilands are pictured at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards in Sydney last month)

The 35-year-old singleton said there are several little-known signs people use while shopping to make it clear they are looking for something more than just groceries

Podcast host Brittany Hockley, who presents the Life Uncut radio show for KIIS FM on weekends, will be filling in as co-anchor while Henderson recuperates 

Later in the segment, Henderson started to laugh but immediately went into a coughing fit, which prompted newsreader Brooklyn Ross to take a swipe at their less-funny rivals in commercial radio.

‘Why don’t go swap with one of the other radio shows so you at least don’t have to laugh?’ Ross said.

On that note, Henderson then signed off the show, telling her colleagues: ‘I’ll miss you guys. I love you. I will get well, thanks.’

Sandilands replied: ‘Listen, we love you. Come home as soon as you feel rested. And I’ll be just, sort of, controlling this plane as it falls out of the sky.’

After Henderson logged off from her WFH set-up, Sandilands admitted: ‘I feel like I’ve been broken up with.’

When Sandilands asked for a timeframe for her return, Henderson said: 'It's just for a couple of weeks, guys'

When Sandilands asked for a timeframe for her return, Henderson said: ‘It’s just for a couple of weeks, guys’

Henderson’s shock exit comes just weeks after The Kyle and Jackie O Show recorded the biggest audience for any Aussie radio program in history.

The pair, who told Daily Mail Australia last week they were ‘speechless’ by the results, attracted 818,000 listeners in the latest survey, while their podcast was downloaded 1.7 million times in October alone.

‘The huge jump we’ve made left us speechless; we didn’t see it coming,’ Henderson said at the time.

‘Radio is still growing and we’re thrilled that people keep jumping on board,’ Sandilands added.

Henderson's shock exit comes just weeks after The Kyle and Jackie O Show recorded the biggest audience for any Aussie radio program in history

Henderson’s shock exit comes just weeks after The Kyle and Jackie O Show recorded the biggest audience for any Aussie radio program in history 

‘We always want to grow the audience,’ he continued. ‘We’ve grown the audience over 50 per cent in the last five years.’

Henderson said the most common feedback she hears from listeners is that they listen to Kyle and Jackie O for an ‘escape’ from the news and stresses of daily life.

‘They’re on the way to work, they’re stuck in peak-hour traffic, and they just want to laugh and listen to something that’s fun,’ she explained.

‘We do serious things as well,’ Sandilands clarified. ‘We do a lot of givebacks to people that are struggling, there’s a lot more to it than you normally read in the headlines.’

When asked about toppling Ben Fordham, Sandilands admitted he broke the ratings news to the talkback radio star via text.

Henderson added: ‘Ben’s always pretty gracious. He’ll always send a text and congratulate us when it happens.’

Discussing the edgier tone of The Kyle and Jackie O Show compared to other FM shows, Sandilands said they try to tap into ‘what people really think’ and also focus on promoting different viewpoints from all sides. 

They also toppled 2GB's Ben Fordham (pictured) in the latest ratings survey

They also toppled 2GB’s Ben Fordham (pictured) in the latest ratings survey

‘It’s a tricky time for everybody, I think,’ added Henderson.

‘So much is changing and there’s so much more acceptance in many areas and we’ve always embraced that and that’s been for the better.

‘But I also think people do feel it’s going too much in the other direction and so they don’t want a show that is completely 100 per cent woke. They want the balance and they want the discussion.

‘They like hearing those open discussions where we’re all honest and not worried about saying the wrong thing, but just saying exactly what we’re thinking and what we’re questioning.’

The Kyle and Jackie O Show enjoyed a surge in listeners in the latest ratings survey, claiming a 14.9 per cent share, up 2.1 per cent, while also attracting 818,000 listeners, up 80,000 from Survey 6. It's the highest number of listeners ever recorded for any radio show in history

The Kyle and Jackie O Show enjoyed a surge in listeners in the latest ratings survey, claiming a 14.9 per cent share, up 2.1 per cent, while also attracting 818,000 listeners, up 80,000 from Survey 6. It’s the highest number of listeners ever recorded for any radio show in history

The Kyle and Jackie O Show enjoyed a surge in listeners in the latest ratings survey, claiming a 14.9 per cent share, up 2.1 per cent, while also attracting 818,000 listeners, up 80,000 from Survey 6. 

It’s the highest number of listeners ever recorded for any radio show in history. This is also Kyle and Jackie O’s 31st consecutive #1 survey result. 

Duncan Campbell, ARN Chief Content Officer, said in a statement: ‘The Kyle and Jackie O are now officially the most successful breakfast team in the history of Australian radio, with a show that is not only revered but often emulated worldwide.

‘These exceptional results today demonstrate the unparalleled connection they have with their listeners, and it is truly remarkable that after 22 years on air together they continue to grow their audience and break records as Australia’s most listened to radio show, delivering stellar results for our advertisers.’

Sandilands and Henderson first joined forces in the early 2000s as co-hosts of 2Day FM's Hot30 Countdown before being promoted to the breakfast slot. (Pictured in 2001)

Sandilands and Henderson first joined forces in the early 2000s as co-hosts of 2Day FM’s Hot30 Countdown before being promoted to the breakfast slot. (Pictured in 2001)

Kyle and Jackie recently swept the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, winning Best On-Air Team and Best Networked Program, among other trophies. The pair were also inducted into the hall of fame.

Sandilands and Henderson first joined forces in the early 2000s as co-hosts of 2Day FM’s Hot30 Countdown before being promoted to the breakfast slot.

They dominated the ratings at the Southern Cross Austereo-owned station before jumping ship to the newly rebranded KIIS 106.5 in late 2013.

They brought their audience with them, and KIIS has ruled the airwaves ever since. 

They dominated the ratings at the SCA-owned station before jumping ship to the newly rebranded KIIS 106.5 in late 2013, taking their audience with them. (Pictured in 2006)

They dominated the ratings at the SCA-owned station before jumping ship to the newly rebranded KIIS 106.5 in late 2013, taking their audience with them. (Pictured in 2006) 

Last month, Sandilands blasted a Sydney newspaper for ‘manufacturing’ a story about advertisers threatening to pull out of The Kyle and Jackie O Show.

The Daily Telegraph was pushing an anti-Kyle agenda at the time, claiming there had been widespread outrage over his use of the word ‘spaz’.

In reality, most Kyle and Jackie O listeners weren’t offended by the term – which the publication called an ‘ableist’ slur – and only a handful of disability activists on Twitter complained about it.

After the newspaper upped its attack by running a story about brands ‘reviewing their contracts’ with KIIS FM, Sandilands unleashed live on air.

He said he was genuinely sorry if any regular listeners were offended by his words, but made it clear the story was a beat-up intended to ‘ruin’ him, adding that the station’s advertisers only spoke out under pressure from The Daily Telegraph.

‘I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I like to make people feel fun, relaxed, happy and safe,’ he said, before adding firmly: ‘I’m never going to change. I’m still not changing [for] the woke world.’

Kyle and Jackie recently swept the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, winning Best On-Air Team and Best Networked Program, among other trophies. The pair were also inducted into the hall of fame

Kyle and Jackie recently swept the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, winning Best On-Air Team and Best Networked Program, among other trophies. The pair were also inducted into the hall of fame



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