How one outburst helped Ryan Fitzgerald to a fortune

How one outburst helped Ryan Fitzgerald to a fortune
Fitzy and Wippa. Photo: By Eva Rinaldi - Fitzy & Wippa, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Everyone dreams of the day that they can tell their boss to get a grip or something along those lines, and it appears that Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald did – and it paid dividends, literally.

Ryan Fitzgerald has spoken about an outburst that in the end resulted in a notable pay increase. Speaking on Game Changers: Radio, Fitzy spoke about how he managed to turn a short AFL career into a successful media career, that is now 15 years strong.

For those who are unfamiliar with his much talked about AFL career, Fitzgerald played just 18 AFL games for the Sydney Swans. He retired from the game in 2002 due to injury. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that he decided he would like to pursue a media career.

At the time, he was playing local league AFL in Adelaide and decided to audition for Big Brother, something that he believed would help him on his way to achieving a media career. Big Brother certainly wasn’t a show short of popularity with thousands of people auditioning to be on the show.

It was some advice from a friend who had actually won the show in its first season that helped him on his way. As Fitzgerald was going through the auditioning stages, his friend, Ben Williams, got him to one side and said “If you make it, this is the strategy you need.”

Fitzy recounts, “He said, ‘You need an identity…Go in there and say you failed at football.’”

It was this advice that got Ryan Fitzgerald onto the show and the producers loved it. He also said that he remembers a lightbulb moment in which “something clicked” and he decided that he would go into the house and “say I’m just a loser. Everything that I put my mind to, it doesn’t work.”

It was a strategy that worked as Ryan Fitzgerald managed to finished fourth in that season, eventually won by Trevor Butler. It wasn’t long before he was hosting Adelaide’s breakfast show on radio station Nova where he proved to be very popular.

Such was his popularity that he was then elevated to join Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli on Nova’s national drive show. However, this lasted less than a year as Fitzgerald told Game Changers: Radio.

“I was good mates with Scott Dooley and Mez (hosts of the Nova Sydney breakfast show) and their show wasn’t doing too well.” Paul Jackson, a Nova executive, said that he wanted Wippa and Fitzy to do the breakfast show instead.

But Fitzgerald didn’t exactly give the reaction that Jackson was hoping for. “I’m not going to F******g do it. I’m not doing it.” His rant continued he says as he complained about having to get up early in the morning and was just starting to have some fun with the drive show.

However, the rant actually seemed to work in their favour as the drive show hosts were offered even more money to host the new breakfast show. Fitzy said that it only took a year and he was enjoying hosting the breakfast show again, “I love breakfast now…it’s the perfect shift.”