Aussie DJ at center of radio prank suicide case named best in the land

Australian radio DJs who pranked UK hospital express remorse

Story highlights

  • He is the co-winner of a contest conducted by his radio network
  • "I'm still at the top of my game," Christian says
  • Communications minister calls the honor "in bad taste"
An Australian radio DJ whose prank targeting Prince William's pregnant wife led to the suicide of a nurse has been voted the best DJ in the land by his employer.
Michael Christian, along with Mel Greig, were suspended after the December 2012 prank in which they called a nurse at King Edward VII's Hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles to gain information about the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
After the pair played the prank on air, the nurse who transferred the call through to the ward, Jacintha Saldanha, committed suicide.
On Tuesday, Christian was crowned "Top Jock" in a contest conducted by his radio network, Southern Cross Austereo.
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The internal contest pitted DJs who submitted their best bits every week.
Christian was the joint winner. A trip to Los Angeles awaits.
"From the start I felt like I had something to prove to myself," he said in a statement. "That regardless of all that's happened in the past few months I'm still at the top of my game."
Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said it was too soon for Christian to be honored this way.
"I think there's a bit of bad taste involved there," Conroy told news radio station, 3AW.
"There was some very serious consequences of what was a prank and to be seen to be rewarding people so soon after such an event, I think is just in bad taste," he said.
'Truly appalling'
After the prank caused an international uproar, the two DJs were taken off the air.
Southern Cross Austereo suspended all prank calls, pulled advertising and ordered a comprehensive review of relevant policies and process.
Greig and Christian apologized in interviews with the Australian TV shows "A Current Affair" and "Today Tonight."
"There is nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now," Greig said on "Today Tonight."
Christian told "A Current Affair" the prank had become "a tragic turn of events that I don't think anyone could have predicted or expected."
The chairman of the hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was a patient slammed the Australian radio station's decision to broadcast the recorded prank call as "truly appalling."
"The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients," wrote the chairman, Simon Glenarthur.
"The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."
'World's worst accents ever'
Audio of the call posted online suggests a woman spoke briefly to the DJs before she put the call through to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness.
"They were the world's worst accents ever," Greig told listeners then. "We were sure 100 people at least before us would've tried the same thing. ... We were expecting to be hung up on. We didn't even know what to say when we got through."
Off the air, Greig and Christian tweeted about the practical joke, promising "more on the #royalprank." The pair's Twitter accounts were later taken down.
A St. James's Palace spokesman said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were saddened to learn of Saldanha's death.
Another palace spokesman told CNN that "at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the incident. On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."
Greig remains off the air.
Christian resumed DJ duties in February.