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Howard Sattler opens up about terminal illness

Julie-anne Sprague
Article image for Howard Sattler opens up about terminal illness

Controversial former radio broadcaster Howard Sattler has opened up about his battle with a rare terminal illness in a raw interview with 6PR’s Steve Mills.

The radio shock jock was fired from 6PR in 2013 after an interview with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in which he asked if her partner Tim Mathieson was gay.

Reflecting on the interview, Sattler said being sacked created a “big black hole” in his life.

“In retrospect I wish I hadn’t stuck my neck out, because I didn’t imagine I would be sacked.”

But now the former radio presenter is facing an even bigger challenge, after being diagnosed with a rare terminal brain disorder.

Sattler began to develop symptoms when he was on-air at 6PR, and said people would often call-in thinking he was drunk.

“I was losing control of my voice and I started to slur the words.”

Doctors initially thought he had Parkinson’s disease but he was later diagnosed with PSB Steele Richardson syndrome.

“It was like a bolt out of the blue, I didn’t believe it,” he said.

“I don’t get the shakes, but it’s much more aggressive than Parkinson’s and it’s going to kill me one day.”

His wife now provides full time care for him, with the assistance of registered carers.

“It’s been very tough on her, she has had to give up her work virtually as well.”

Reflecting on Sattler’s radio career Millsy said he was like a “fighting dog”.

“If you want someone to fight for an issue you were the guy to go to,” Millsy said.

Sattler said he loved helping give people a voice.

“I went to bat for a lot of people who needed me to go to bat for them,” Sattler said.

As his disease continues to deteriorate, Sattler is now considering his end of life choices.

In 2019 WA passed voluntary assisted dying legislation, allowing terminally ill people to end their own lives.

The legislation is expected to come into effect from July this year, and Sattler hopes to be one of the first people to take the option.

“I’m not the person I used to be.”

“This is not me Steve, if I can’t be me why should I be anything.”

If you or anyone you know needs help with mental health you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

Click play to hear the full interview. 

(Photo: Nine News.)


Julie-anne Sprague