Knackers And The Vadge: Helen Razer Bursts Back Onto The Airwaves


It’s been a while since the one-time Triple J host Helen Razer has perfumed the Australian airwaves. Chris Graham reports.

For much of the last decade, Helen Razer has been the staple diet of Crikey readers, a prolific author, and an occasional contributor to New Matilda.

But Australia’s most loved Marxist, and easily one of its best writers, is turning her attention back to the spoken word, with a new ‘occasional podcast’ that makes for highly entertaining listening on topics that generally make the average Australian’s eyes glaze over.

It also, as you might expect, features quite a few swear words.

Razer’s podcast opens thusly: “Welcome, this is an attempt to bring you a critique of the status quo in the FM breakfast radio style, hence the title Knackers and The Vadge.”

With the title – the most difficult bit – out of the way – Razer gets down to the hilariously serious business of skewering the things that bug her the most, in particular the evils of capitalism, and anyone who doesn’t agree with her about the evils of capitalism.

“My name is Helen Razer, it’s profoundly irrelevant, particularly in the present. I used to be a woman of modest prominence but am no longer, and I am tempted to do one or two of these new fangled podcast things, and surprisingly I find when I get onto a topic like the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, or the stupidity of Russiagate, or the false distinction between the so-called left and so-called right without anybody bothering to define those terms, that I go on and on and on.

Renowned Australian writer, Marxist and author, Helen Razer.

“What I lack is an authoritative male co-host to say ‘shut up Helen’. So what I’ve actually got here is a small bear called Knackers. I am The Vadge – refer to me as The Vadge from now on.”

In case you missed that, Razer is running a podcast with a ‘male host’ to keep her under control, who happens to be a stuffed animal. Only the Kyle and Jackie O show is remotely similar.

Razer then introduces her inaugural Knackers and The Vadge guest.

“Happily, after an afternoon of light to moderate drinking, I happen to be joined by my former flat-mate and a gentleman known to many Australians as Francis Leach, for his excellence in sports broadcasting, his musical snobbery, and his ongoing soft leftism that has been pleasuring the nation for many decades.”

Mr Leach obviously knows he’s in for a ride… and that’s precisely what he gets. The first episode of Knackers and The Vadge gives you the general flavor of where the podcast will head over time.

RAZER: Let’s talk about some personal shit shall we? Look, we’ve had a chandy or two. Okay. We’re talking largely out of our fundaments with little bits of ill-remembered history about the end of the Keynsian economic prescipriotns…

LEACH: John Maynard Keynes was a great man.

RAZER: Oh fuck off Francis.

LEACH: He was a great man.

RAZER: No! He was just somebody who wanted to save capitalism. And you and your soft leftie mates…

LEACH: Here we go. Let’s get down to it…

RAZER: You don’t believe that capitalism has internal contradictions which means that it’s a period of time that will inevitably end? I mean how many fucking lives does capitalism need to take? You look at conservative estimates like the world poverty foundation of annual deaths due to poverty (from capitalism)… the conservative estimate is 18 million a year. Any dictator, any economic regime that is not named capitalism that you can think of in the history of meaning, has not claimed as many lives as capitalism. We think about this time of over-abundance, where you get fucking molecular chefs talking about how they might be able to 3-D print an appetizer for our delectation and you’re telling me that we can’t get clean water?”

It gets even better from there… indeed Leach fights back quite admirably. All up, the best Australian political podcast going around.

So over to Razer and Leach… and Knackers and The Vadge, and we’ll keep you updated on episode two, when Razer next hits the piss.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.