In the ’90s, when Americans had MTV and Kurt Loder, Australians had Michael Tunn. BuzzFeed once named the Afternoon Show presenter and Australia’s youngest radio announcer one of their “ultimate ’90s dreamboats“.
He became the face of ’90s kids Australia wide at 17 when he was hired as Australia’s youngest-ever radio presenter at triple j. He hadn’t even completed high school when he got the job and couldn’t appear on air until completing his studies.
He first came to public attention as the host of Rock and Roll High School on Three D Radio in Adelaide in the early 1990s, before moving to Sydney to join triple j where he became the host of J-Klub and The Request Fest.
His on-air popularity soon netted him a gig as the host of ABC’s Afternoon Show, a post he held for five years in addition to hosting numerous docos for the broadcaster. He eventually left triple j to work at Triple M and SAFM.
But he was booted in March 2006 following a court appearance for disorderly behaviour, which Adelaide Now reports included “making indecent comments and actions toward police”. On Tuesday, Tunn pleaded guilty to shoplifting charges.
As Adelaide Now writes, on Tuesday Adelaide Magistrates Court heard how Tunn, at one time one of the brightest stars in Australian broadcasting, now survives on a $40-a-day disability pension.
Having battled illness, stress, and bipolar disorder, a desperate Tunn pleaded guilty to stealing “two Balfours pies, two Balfours sausage rolls and a Bonds T-shirt”, which he shoved into a blue freezer bag at a Coles in Firle back in December.
“He is in his 40s, has bipolar issues, is on medication, sees a psychiatrist once a month and says he has been making some bad decisions at times,” Tunn’s lawyer said, revealing that Tunn is currently involved with community radio on a volunteer basis.
“He had been under stress because Christmas was coming up and he was heading into family situations,” he said. “He didn’t go to the shop with the intention of taking items but, at some stage, he formed the intent of taking them without paying.”
According to Adelaide Now, Tunn was eventually released without conviction, fined $50, and ordered to pay $260 in levies and prosecution costs. But Tunn’s situation is hardly an isolated case in the Australian music industry.
Last year, a Victoria University study found that the rate of attempted suicide in the industry is more than double the rest of the population and more than 40 percent of Australian performers have been diagnosed with mental illness.