Beverly Wang and Red Symons
Beverly Wang and Red Symons

Red Symons' bizarre chat: 'What's the deal with Asians?'

A BIZARRE podcast that saw veteran broadcaster Red Symons ask his guest a succession of offensive questions about her race has been deleted from the ABC website.

As all trace of the 20-minute podcast was deleted this afternoon, Symons' fellow ABC colleague Jonathan Green offered the unusual defence that his friend had "never imagined" the podcast 'would see the light of day."

Others on social media, including fellow ABC personality Julia Zemiro, denounced the logic of Green's argument, asking why Symons would've assumed a recorded interview would remain private.

Symons had invited ABC journalist and producer Beverley Wang onto his show to discuss her own newly-launched podcast,It's Not A Race.

Her show takes a look at "race, racism, identity, culture and difference" in contemporary Australia.

The interview took a strange turn almost immediately when Symons informed his guest that he was upset, because he'd wanted to launch a segment tackling similar topics on his own show.

"Except my segment was called 'What's the deal with Asians?'" he told her.

"Well let's tackle that. What is the deal with Asians, Red?" asked Wang gamely.

"No, I ask the questions. What's the deal with Asians? It's just a useful, general question about the nature of our culture, and how one should interact with people who have a different cultural background."

Symons had another question for his guest: "Are you yellow?"

He then asked if she was Chinese, to which Wang explained that she was born in Canada with a Taiwanese family background.


From there, Symons quizzed Wang on her ancestry, including "what sort of boat" her ancestors had used to flee mainland China for a new life in Taiwan some 400 years ago.

By this time, both parties seemed incredulous at each other's line of questioning.

Symons: "Do they speak Mandarin or Cantonese?"

Wang: "Who's 'they'?"


Wang: "They speak Taiwanese and they speak Mandarin. And in Canada where I'm from, they speak English and French."

Symons: "I knew that. You're probably from the west coast of Canada."

Wang: "Why do you think that, Red?"

Symons: "Because it's closer to ASIA."

Wang: "I'm just asking, don't get defensive."

Wang then changed tack, asking Symons if they could discuss the 2009 Hey, Hey It's Saturday controversy in which a group of Red Faces contestants performed as the Jackson Five in blackface make-up and afro wigs.

Wang mentioned that she'd discussed the scandal in the first episode of her podcast, so was keen to hear from someone who was actually there. Symons said that he "wrote a defence of it" at the time.

Symons: "I remember thinking at the time that it had become uncomfortable because Harry Connick Jr felt most uncomfortable with someone wearing what is alleged to be blackface."

Wang: "Why is it alleged to be blackface?"

Symons: "Well, because there was white face and there was brown face and there was black face. There was a variety of faces."

Wang: "Sure, but it wasn't 'alleged' blackface. The make-up is there. It's definitely black make-up."

Symons: "And there is apparently a blanket caveat against that?"

After a bit more back-and-forth about the appropriateness of wearing blackface in 2017, Symons forgot his guest's name when asking about her 'birth name'.

Symons: "Given that you were born in Canada, you were probably named 'Jenny' when you were born."

Wang: "JENNY?"

Symons: "Beverley. Considering you were born in Canada, you were probably named 'Beverley' when you were born."

Wang: "That's a fair assumption to make, Red, that I was given a name when I was born."

Symons: "Was Beverley the name you were given?"

Wang: "My name IS Beverly, it has been Beverley since birth."

Wrapping up the interview, Symons asked Wang if she'd like him to co-host her own podcast - or if they'd like to create a new one together titled 'What's the deal with Asians?'

Don't hold your breath, Red.