Who'll be the new King?

Who'll be the new King?

Posted September 24th, 2011 by debritz

Update: Even more names, Craig Zonca, Cathy Border, Rebecca Levingston, Alex Bernard, Bill McDonald, Natalie Bochenski and Patrick Condren, are now in the mix. See the comments.

At the start of this year, I wrote here that there'd be a lot of changes on Brisbane radio in 2011. I expected most of them to be at the commercial stations - as, indeed, they have been (with more to come).

But change isn't restricted to the commercial sphere; 612ABC is about to alter its core Monday-Friday line-up for the first time in half a decade. This has been brought on by afternoons host Richard Fidler's decision to devote his radio activities exclusively to the national 11am Conversation Hour, and Madonna King's decision to leave the helm of the 8.30am-11am current affairs and lifestyle show.

As you'd expect, there's lots of lobbying behind the scenes (all done in a very dignified manner, of course), and there probably won't be an official announcement for some time. If Aunty is true to form, the morning shift will have a series of stand-in hosts for the rest of the year after King hangs up her headphones on October 21.

The relevant decision-makers will also probably consider reshuffling the entire deck of presenters, meaning there may be more than two new voices on air.

Given the station's comparatively strong performance in the ratings, though, it's unlikely that Spencer Howson (the No.1 breakfast announcer in the city, who has surely got that job for as long as he wants it), Kelly Higgins-Devine or Steve Austin will be moved on altogether.

So who are the contenders for the two vacant spots?

When King announced her decision, 612ABC crossed to Premier Anna Bligh, who said nice things about King but also endorsed ABC political reporter Chris O'Brien (who was holding the microphone she was speaking into) to take over the morning shift.

O'Brien (pictured) certainly has the credentials for the job - especially the flagship half-hour from 8.30am where the big state issues of the day are discussed.

Other people who may be considered for one of the vacancies are:

Terri Begley, a former ABC News Radio host, who is the regular fill-in for King, and is widely liked by listeners and within Aunty;

Kirsten MacGregor, a former mornings host and now a senior newsreader;

Tim Cox, formerly the mornings host on ABC local radio in Hobart, now presenting the breakfast shift on ABC Coast FM on the Gold Coast;

Steve Austin, again a former mornings presenter who now hosts the popular night-time program;

Katrina Davidson, a standup comic, producer and announcer who had a successful run filling in for Austin, maintaining the No.1 spot for that shift (if Austin moves, she'd be a comfortable fit for evenings);

Lee Anderson, former Channel 9 news director and highly experienced and well-connected journalist who fell on his sword over the "choppergate" scandal, even though he was away at the time;

Greg Cary, the veteran and talented mornings host on 4BC who may want to escape the uncertainties of the commercial world;

Ian Skippen, the now-jobless former Triple M and B105 anchor, who would be popular with the ABC audience and could easily slot into afternoons or evenings in a 612ABC reshuffle (but not the morning show);

Anthony Frangi, a former ABC and 4BC presenter who has also worked in ABC management, often does fill-in shifts (including during the floods), and has a warm, friendly and familiar style;

Peter Gooch, a former mornings and nights presenter who now works behind the scenes but maintains a strong audience following;

Scott Rollinson, a Toowoomba-based ABC announcer who has been filling in on 612ABC evenings recently;

John Birmingham, the well-known author has been on air in Fidler's afternoon spot recently, and seems to enjoy the medium - but he probably doesn't want a full-time radio gig.

Obviously, the ABC has plenty of experienced and talented people who will be putting their hands up for one of the jobs, as will many others from the outside.

The only thing that's for sure is that, in 2012, Brisbane radio surely will sound different. (Hang on, I think somebody's already used that one ...)

Image of Chris O'Brien is from the ABC Brisbane website

Anyone but O'Brien please

Anyone but O'Brien please

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2011 - 14:53
Why not??

Why not??

Posted by Tappsey (not verified) on September 25, 2011 - 10:29
And another thing ...

Correspondence has been flooding in on this subject via Twitter and email. Here are a few more names being bandied about:
Cathy Border, former ABC announcer and now political editor on Channel 10. Maybe she would favour a return to radio?
Patrick Condren, Channel 7 reporter who has done some stand-in shifts on 612ABC.
Oh, and as I meant to point out in my original post, the post-9am part of the show has had a female/family focus in recent times. But does that necessarily suggest a woman will get the morning gig? I'm sure the ABC will be seeking out the best person for the job.
Oh, and a big thank-you to those who put my name forward. I certainly am interested in working in radio, but I'm not ready for the premier league yet.

Posted by debritz on September 24, 2011 - 16:11
ABC Mornings Presenter

Why is this topic still under great discussion when Steve Austin announced the other night on his programme that ABC management had asked him to take the position?

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2011 - 18:41
Rod Henshaw was also witty,

Rod Henshaw was also witty, sharp and briliant.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2011 - 17:23
Terri Begley is

Terri Begley is BRILLAINT!!!!! Not Birmingham, Ian Skippen, Greg...hang on, it's just easier to say I'd prefere a man BUT Terri Begley is brilliant (oh I already said that) and my next choice would be Anthony Frangi, simply because beleive it or not it USED to be the hard hitting news and politics program and I think they would both do it justice. The other are just WRONG for that slot. Leave SH, K H-D and SA whre they are, *if it aint broke... Interesting times!

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 24, 2011 - 17:30
Terri Begley

I really enjoyed listening to Terri when she was on Newsradio and then on 612. I thought she handled the stand in roles very well, particularly Mornings. She even interviewed me as a textile/dry cleaning expert on Madonna's show when Madonna was away and it was a great experience. I think she would have made a great permanent Mornings presenter. What I can't understand is why she announced she'd be taking over Mornings after Madonna left and then more recently Steve Austin was announced as the permanent Mornings presenter for 2012, unless Terri meant she was just acting in the role for the rest of 2011.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2011 - 15:34
Mr Z

Condren was a struggle to listen to for me.

What about Mr Zonker getting a promotion. His interviewing skills probably aren't up for the 9am gig but his personable style could suit the next shift.

Editor's note: I think this is a reference to Craig Zonca, who presents ABC Radio's regional drive program and has filled in for Kelly Higgins-Devine on 612ABC.

Posted by Anonymouse (not verified) on September 24, 2011 - 19:27
That's the one

Lol. I googled the guy way back when he filled in for KHD and the result came up as Zonker. Too funny. No matter who was in the car at the time as soon as the ignition fired and the radio came on and he was on I would exclaim "Zonker!"

Seriously, he's a good talent and a good age to take the next step up and would flourish with the opportunity I reckon.

Posted by Anonymouse (not verified) on September 25, 2011 - 00:19
Zonca for 612

I really enjoyed listening to Zonca when he filled in for KHD.
- Great sound
- Intelligent
- Personable
- Experienced

He's got the state wide drive show as it is, so the ABC clearly trusts him talking to a large audience. It seems a no brainer to bring him across to the metro team.

Talent like his shouldn't go to waste, it would be a shame for the ABC not to get behind one of their own.

Posted by Radio Clown (not verified) on September 25, 2011 - 11:35

My dream line-up for 612brisbane, plus backups:

Breakfast Spencer Howson (KellyHD)
Mornings. Chris O'brien (John Birmingham)
Afternoon Craig Zonca (Rebecca Levingston)
Drive. Kelly HD (Zonca or Levingston)
Evenings. Steve Austin (Scott Rollinson or Anthony Frangi)

Posted by You know me (not verified) on September 25, 2011 - 12:12
How about seeing Frank

How about seeing Frank Warrick return to the radio!

Posted by Monster (not verified) on September 25, 2011 - 15:35
Alex Bernard back to 612

I've heard that Alex Bernard former 612 Evenings presenter (2003-04) is also in the mix. She's been at 4BC where shé did Afternoons with Rod Tiley and Summer Weekends for the last few years but recently popped up again on Steve Austin's show on 'Hidden Persuaders'and there was alot of positive buzz about her being back on air at 612.

Alex could easily do the Afternoon or Evening shift - she's class act and excellent interviewer and I'm sure would be welcomed back with open arms.

Apparently she didn't want to present Summer at 4BC again this year, which will either be networked or done by one of the guys from weekend mornings but is still a regular on Greg Carey's show.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2011 - 11:19
Alex Bernard is an

Alex Bernard is an ABC-trained broadcaster who just didn't deliver ratings when she was on Afternoons at 4BC. That's why she was relegated to the Summer Weekends shift a few years ago.

News in the marketplace hints that 4BC management chose not include her in it's latest weekend line-up as there is another long-term contracted talent who will be better received by their listeners.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 7, 2011 - 21:44
ABC Trained Broadcaster

This comment seems to imply that if you are an ABC Trained broadcaster you are unable to deliver audiences. The ABC has delivered some fabulous broadcasters who are either continuing to deliver audiences at the ABC or have been lured by commercial organisations. To name a few: Ray Martin, Peter Dick, Rod Young, and Number one breakfast announcer on 612 ABC Brisbane Spencer Howson.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 20, 2011 - 09:49
Alex Bernard - Radio Presenter

Interesting... the reason Rod Tiley & Alex Bernard were removed from Afternoons towards the end of 2008 was to make way for Peter Dick who Management had dumped from Breakfast to make way the for the disastrous Jamie Dunn Experiment.
Rod & Alex's ratings were in line with what was happening across the station at the time and weren't any worse than Claire Blake & Peter Dick's (who also got the axe after a year) and the current Afternoon team's ratings this year. Does that mean Moyd & Loretta are going to get the axe too?

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2011 - 01:35
The plot thickens...

The plot thickens...

Posted by 'Beer and skittles' (not verified) on December 12, 2011 - 15:42
I'm wondering if Spencer

I'm wondering if Spencer Howson should jump ship now while he's on a high? After all, does anyone really know how much the 8.30 to 9am Madonna King interview each day effects the breaky ratings for the ABC? I know many people who tune into Madonna, but don't necessarily listen to SH. If he left now we would never know.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 28, 2011 - 11:05
Interesting ...

Interesting. But 612ABC (and the other stations) do get 15-minute breakdowns of the ratings, so they do know who's listening when. Even when 612ABC wasn't overall winner in the 5-9am breakfast shift, Spencer often was No.1 while he was on air.

I don't know if he's had any offers from commercial stations, but he should have.

Meanwhile, while we're adding names to the Morning Show mix, how about Natalie Bochenski, the 4BC political reporter who, I am reliably informed, was also named one of Zoo Weekly's Hot Radio Babes.

Posted by debritz on September 28, 2011 - 11:20
It'd be great to hear

It'd be great to hear Natalie doing an Evenings shift on ABC. She has a personable on-air sound and is a cracking-smart lady.

Posted by Dan Barrett (not verified) on September 28, 2011 - 11:25
Natalie Bochenski certainly

Natalie Bochenski certainly was not a name that popped into my head without prompting.... BUT, now mentioned she strikes me as a pretty good option to take on political reporting and filling shifts as required. In many of her reports I have heard she can sneak in some incisive wit and be on target with the story. Not sure mornings would be the vehicle, but as a replacement for Fidler, that makes sense. Pity she is not in the ABC ranks to test the hypothesis...

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 27, 2011 - 05:15
Please bring back Alex B back

I hope that's true about Alex B coming back to 612 - she's a great broadcaster and was completely under utilised at 4BC. What a waste! We've been big fans of hers since she was on the ABC and never understood was she wasn't put to better use at 4BC, especially given the underwhelming women (and men!) they put on air. The best thing that could happen is when they do sell 4BC they go through the place with a broom. Leave Greg Carey but the rest can go!

Posted by Rob (not verified) on September 28, 2011 - 16:29
Alex B

Hear Hear! Couldn't agree more - why would you waste such talent on Sat and Sun arvos for last 2 years - her stuff was great radio!Love Alex B!! Very intelligent and entertainig radio - too good for weekend afternoons
Marv - The Gap

Posted by Marvin (not verified) on September 28, 2011 - 21:17
Speaking of Talk Radio...

...comes (speculative) news that all is not particularly rosy down in Melbourne, with murmurs that changes could be afoot at fledgling talky MTR, run in partnership with Pacific Star (operators of Melb sporty SEN) and Singo's Macquarie Radio Network (home of Alan Jones).

Apparently the Sydney chiefs aren't too happy with the rate of progress on the balance sheet and are looking for changes. Any further on this, Brett?

Posted by Peter T (not verified) on October 5, 2011 - 05:21

The last I heard was management saying that MTR would not continue in its present form. The timing on any changes rely on the sale of the Fairfax Media radio assets, which include the top-rating 3AW.

If Macquarie Media gets its hands on 3AW, there's no absoliutely point in continuing with MTR as a talk station. Even if 3AW ends up in other hands, MTR cannot be competitive.

Its future would seem to be as a largely automated niche music station which may pick up a reasonable following if and when the digital transition kicks in enough to drive music audiences back to AM stations.

Posted by debritz on October 5, 2011 - 13:50
Music? Hmm...

... it's not as if that frequency is averse to playing the odd tune or two. Maybe a return of MP? Or - and this is ENTIRELY self indulgent - a return of the once all-mighty 3XY? Wouldn't be too hard to wave some dollars and a frequency swap under the noses at Radio Hellas, after all!

It does raise a very interesting point though, given the level playing field in sound quality that DAB+ (don't forget the "+", Aunty Joan will hunt you down!!) will bring to the table. Could we, as you suggest, see a resurgence of AM music stations making a red hot go of it?

The hard part will be creating a viable format that isn't already covered.

Posted by Peter T (not verified) on October 5, 2011 - 15:39
I think the DAB+ future will see each operator with multiple licences, all making a go for what's left of the "mainstream" audience, but also trying to find niches they can fill at minimal cost.

But, of course, DAB+ isn't going to be the only player in the game. Internet-enabled mobile devices can already access broadcast radio and podcasts from around the world (with local advertising in the same way Google Ads, Facebook and others tailor web ads to the user's location) - thus diminishing the value of a government-assigned licence to use the airwaves.

One thing that will come out of the imminent sale of Fairfax's radio stations is a idea of what the market thinks licences are worth these days. The fact that there's been no announcement yet suggests the sellers are expecting more than the buyers want to pay.

Posted by debritz on October 5, 2011 - 20:17
ABC Morning Host

Please God, not Rod Henshaw, Greg Cary or Cathy Border. Their political leanings are to one sided. If you want conservative shock jocks, listen to 4BC. Leave the ABC non political. Although I did enjoy listening to Ross Davey when he was on BC. And definitely not John Millar, he mumbles a lot. Not sure Ian Skippen would suite the format, he should still be on MMM.

Posted by Stevep (not verified) on October 13, 2011 - 21:23