One of Australia’s leading radio producers has opened up about his most awkward celebrity encounter.
Leon Sjogren has worked for Southern Cross Austereo for 10 years and is currently the executive producer of Fox FM’s Fifi, Fev and Byron.
At the start of his career when he was working on Fifi Box and Jules Lund’s radio show, he helped orchestrate a stunt with David Hasselhoff that didn’t quite go to plan, reports news.com.au.
“We used to do Blackout Challenges where we’d blindfold the hosts, give them headphones, drop them into weird situations and then just watch them react and see how they went,” Sjogren told news.com.au. “Fifi was actually pregnant at the time and for some reason we thought it would be funny to have her wake up in a hotel bed with David Hasselhoff.
“We led her into this dark room and Hoff was in the bed. We didn’t tell him to take any clothes off but he decided to take his pants and his top off and get under the covers. We put Fifi in the bed and we were in the room next door watching with night vision camera.
“She took the blindfold off and couldn’t really work out what was happening and the Hoff starting serenading her.”
Co-host Jules Lund was in the room next door watching with Sjogren and when things got a little too awkward he sprung into action and burst into the room.
“At that moment we thought, ‘We’ve gone too far, probably,'” Sjogren said.
The producer recalled that Box found the whole thing rather amusing but afterwards she had just one question about the stunt: “Why?”
“I don’t know the reasoning behind this idea but we just thought it was funny at the time,” Sjogren laughed.
Sjogren has worked on some of Australia’s biggest radio shows and has met many of the world’s biggest stars.
Asked if there have been any other awkward moments, he said: “We had a big band in who have one of the biggest songs from the last couple of years. We always ask bands to play their hit song and a cover song and we always need to know what cover they’re going to play because some songs we just can’t play on our station.
“We kept asking this band if they knew what cover they’d play and they kept saying, ‘We’re working on that.’ But they turned up and still didn’t know what they were going to play and so they decided to play some really obscure Bob Seger song from the 60s that we’d never play on our station.”
Thankfully the songs were prerecorded which gave Sjogren the option to ditch one of them.
“They were such intimidating guys that we couldn’t tell them we weren’t going to play the song,” he told news.com.au. “So we just said, ‘Oh that was amazing, thanks so much!’ Then we never played it.”
As an executive producer Sjogren is not only responsible for brainstorming and executing ideas, but also managing the team and, if need be, to cover for them.
“In my role I’ve had to keep a lot of big secrets,” he said. “I was the first one to pick Fifi’s pregnancy.
“I know her pretty well and a few things lined up like her eating habits and not being available for certain dates and excuses that I’d heard that her use last time she was pregnant.”
Box wasn’t ready to tell the extended team that she was pregnant yet so Sjogren had to cover for her.
“I had to keep up the charade when she had a lot of sick days last year because she had quite severe morning sickness,” he said. “I used every excuse in the book.
“The other big secret I’ve kept is when Fev (Brendan Fevola) told me what his baby name was going to be and got me involved to fool everyone into thinking the baby name was Brenda Fevola.
“In the 24 hours after he announced it on air, I had a lot of people asking if he was serious. I had to keep it a secret and say, ‘Yeah, he’s gone with Brenda’. It was incredibly hard because it was so ridiculous.”
Sjogren even had to lie to the radio station’s marketing team who wanted to announce the baby’s name on digital billboards around Melbourne.
“All along the freeways in Melbourne there was a photo of Fev saying, ‘Congrats to the Fevola’s and baby Brenda,'” he said.
The former AFL star later revealed on air that he was only joking and had actually named his newborn daughter Tobi.
“The marketing team weren’t too happy about that,” Sjogren told news.com.au.