Author(s): Michael Stahl
Kerry Packer was instrumental in shaping Australia's media landscape and culture. For 30 years he controlled television's perennial ratings leader Channel Nine, and a large percentage of the nation's most influential magazines. So much of what Australians watched, read and believed came through the prism of this larger-than-life man. Beneath all the billionaire clutter, Kerry Packer had plenty in common with the average Jo: a cheeky humour, a competitive drive, deep love for his kids, a passion for sports and movies. In business, Kerry Packer would fight to the last dollar in a deal. Yet the same man would take his private jet to Las Vegas and lose more than $20 million in a week - then leave a $1 million tip. In his Park Street, Sydney office, where the visitors' chairs were clustered in front of his giant desk, Packer would verbally dissect a hapless executive, but no less often, the very same man would step in silently and invisibly when hardship or tragedy struck a loyal staffer or their family. Packer bulldozed through his dyslexic condition with a steel-trap mind and by asking an awful lot of questions. The son of a father who shunned him, he inherited a business in 1974 valued at perhaps $100m. When he died 31 years later, on Boxing Day 2005, he would hand his own much-loved son, James, control of a media, property, agriculture and gambling empire worth $6.9 billion. Kerry Packer: Tall Tales and True Storiesis a collection of stories, gathered from people who knew him, from those who have documented him, and from the folklore that inevitably grew up around him.
Michael Stahl worked as a journalist for Wheels and The Australian Financial Review for 10 years prior to freelancing. He has won numerous writing awards, including Motoring Journalist of the Year in 1998 and the magazine industry association Publishers Australia Journalist of the Year in 2011. During 2000-2004 Michael lived in Paris, where he was a columnist and contributor to UK and US magazines. Though Michael is best-known as a motoring writer, he often writes on topics such as culture, technology and travel and has contributed to Men's Style and The Good Weekend. He is currently the Features Editor for Qantas - The Australian Way.