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Night of the stars

Posted February 26th, 2010 by debritz

A big week in Brisbane radio, which has seen the release of the first ratings survey for 2010 and 20th anniversary celebrations for B105 and Ipswich's River 949, will culminate tonight with a party to celebrate the retirement of uberproducer Majella Marsden. Over three decades in radio, Majella has worked on popular programs at 4BK (the Wayne Roberts Show, where she was also heard on air as "Deirdre Slack"), B105 (the Morning Crew with Jamie Dunn and Ian Skippen), 4BC (the Peter Dick program, among others), River (Wayne Roberts again) and 612ABC (Breakfast with Spencer Howson and Drive with Kelly Higgins-Devine, who'll be paying tribute to Majella on air this afternoon). A big night is guaranteed, with many current and former radio stars in attendance, and there'll be news, gossip and pictures here tomorrow.

Radio ratings: cheers and tears

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

While the champagne corks have been popping at B105 and 612ABC, they'll be scratching their heads at 4BC and Nova 106.9 today. One Twitterer has already called 612's Spencer Howson (pictured) and B105's Stav Davidson the kings of Brisbane radio. Certainly, their shows tied for No. 1 in the important breakfast shift, pushing Nova 106.9 to third place. It's probably not entirely fair to single out Stav from his on-air colleagues, Labby and Camilla, but he has played a bigger role in the station's recent promotional and advertising activities. B105 has also reclaimed its crown as the No. 1 Brisbane station overall. In my view, this is the culmination of smart programming by the Austereo team and a few unfortunate incidents at Nova, including the decision by breakfast anchor Kip Wightman to quit and travel to the US in the middle of last year and the drink-driving arrest that tarnished the image of his colleague Ash Bradnam. But Nova is still in a strong position and has a good product and, barring any rash moves, should remain competitive. Commercial FM listeners will be the winners, as Triple M and 97.3FM are also performing strongly, the latter especially so among its preferred 25-plus female audience and with the all-important-to-advertisers grocery buyers. Meanwhile, at 4BC, they will be wondering why Brisbane's only commercial talk station has failed to replicate the runaway success of similar formats in Sydney and Melbourne. At BC stablemate 3AW, breakfast stars Ross Stevenson and John Burns scored 19 per cent of the breakfast audience, and the station was heard by 14.1% of the overall audience, rising to 27.4% in the 55-plus demographic. In Sydney, 2GB's Alan Jones was heard by 20% of breakfast-radio listeners, and the station had an overall share of 16.6% (people 10-plus). And 2GB has competition from 2UE which scooped up a further 6.7% of the breakfast audience and 5.8% overall. If one in four radio listeners are listening to commercial talk radio in Sydney, and one in five in Melbourne, why is 4BC rating just 6.7% with no commercial competition? It simply cannot be that Brisbane audiences are different. And it's certainly not because the breakfast team of Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder lack talent. It can only be that the former B105 stars are not appealing to the potential, and station-prefered, audience - listeners over 55. In fact, 612ABC is drawing away in the category, as well as leading 4BC overall. Perhaps it's that Dunn, the undisputed leader of the pack in Brisbane radio in the late 1980s and all of the 1990s, is better suited to a music station with well-timed and relevant comedy spots. He once said he should have moved from B105 to Triple M - but that decision was not his to make, and the B105 announcer who did make the jump, Ian Skippen, has had well-deserved success in appealing to the over-25 male audience with his Cage team of Emily-Jade O'Keeffe, Greg Martin and Greg Sullivan. Dunn is still a great talent, but he's a square peg in a round hole right now - and it seems unlikely he will stay on at BC in the long term if he can't dramatically reverse today's trend. And it's no secret in radio circles that at least one of his colleagues is eagerly waiting in the wings.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on the 612ABC Breakfast with Spencer Howson program, which was equal No. 1 in today's ratings.

Ratings: B105 back on top

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

In the first radio ratings survey for 2010, Brisbane's B105 has climbed to No. 1 overall and in breakfast (Labby, Camilla and Stav, pictured, tied with 612ABC's Spencer Howson), with longtime leader Nova relegated to a close third in breakfast and second overall. Despite predictions in some quarters of a stronger showing, 4BC's Jamie Dunn has lost ground in breakfast, slipping to a 6.7pc share - just avoiding the wooden spoon among the commercial broadcasters to sister station 4BH, which just squeezed ahead of Triple J. The top four performers overall were B105, Nova, Triple M and 97.3FM. Melbourne's underperforming Triple M has risen across the day, driven by stronger ratings for Eddie McGuire's Hot Breakfast, which added 1.5 percentage points - but he remains a long way behind market leader 3AW. In Sydney, Alan Jones at 2GB continues his winning ways but Nova 96.9 has had a shocker with its new breakfast team of Merrick, Dools and Ricki-Lee dropping 4 percentage points, while Triple M has gained. 2Day retained leadership among the FM stations overall and in breakfast, but lost some audience.
Brett Debritz is heard every Friday morning on 612ABC 's top-rating Breakfast with Spencer Howson program.
PS: It's five years, almost to the day, since B105 last won a survey.

Who listened to the radio?

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

Apart from newspapers, radio is the most enduring of the mass media. And while newspaper circulation has taken a huge tumble in recent years, radio is holding relatively steady in terms of listener numbers (if not relative to the percentage increase in the overall population, but that's another story). Today will see the release of the first metropolitan radio survey for 2010. In Brisbane, manyeyes will be on the performance of the recent market leader Nova 106.9, which underwent some turmoil on and off air last year (including the resignation of breakfast anchor Kip Wightman, the arrest of his colleague Ashley Bradnam for drink-driving and a deal that saw half the parent company sold at a considerable discount to Lachlan Murdoch), and the former longtime No. 1 station B105, which has been blazing the comeback trail in recent times (especially with the performance of the national Hamish and Andy drivetime show but also with its breakfast team of Labby, Camilla and Stav, pictured). B105 management is confident of a strong showing this year. Also in the spotlight this year will be talk station 4BC. With the talk format blitzing the ratings in Sydney and Melbourne (so much so, that a new talk station will be launched in the Victorian capital soon), 4BC has been something of the poor cousin, often ending towards the end of the ratings pile. BC management will be expecting a stronger performance from its breakfast hosts Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder. Although not officially in competiiton with the commercial stations, 612ABC will also be looking to maintain its recent healthy results, especially in breakfast, where Spencer Howson was No.1 for five out of eight surveys last year (twice tied with Nova and three times outright). Looking to shore-up their healthy demographics will be Triple M, which appeals to older (but not old) males, and 97.3, which has a strong female audience. Overall in recent years, the market has remained tight with even the overall trailers, 4BH and 4KQ, remaining very competitive (unlike some commercial stations in Sydney and Melbourne, which have struggled to find viable audience shares). We're in for another fun ride, and you'll be able to read about the first results for the year right here. Stay tuned.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on 612ABC with Spencer Howson on Friday mornings.

Monkey business

Posted February 19th, 2010 by debritz

On Spencer Howson's breakfast program on 612ABC, I spoke about monkey jockeys riding greyhounds in Brisbane in the early part of last century. Apparently, such novelty races occurred in Australia up until the 1950s. As this picture* - probably taken in Florida in the US in the the 1920s or 1930s - shows, it wasn't just confined to Autstralia, either. If you're interested in the subject, there's some more information here and here. There's also a Facebook group called "Bring back the monkey jockeys". You can hear my spot with Spencer again (or for the first time) here.
* The photo is widely available on the internet and published in the belief that it is in the public domain. Please advise me if this is not the case, and it will be removed.

Twitter Tardis time

Posted February 17th, 2010 by debritz

Twitter is a great tool for other media - as demonstrated yesterday in Brsbane where local media were able to provide flooding and transport-delay updates. But, as I've said here before (and on 612ABC last week), it presents a problem for national media trying to promote their shows when daylight saving means "live" is not "live". Some advice for tweeters from national TV and radio programs that are shown on delay interstate: how about adding to the tweet the time the segments you're promoting will be seen/heard elsewhere? People who don't live in the southern vortex get mighty upset when it's assumed that they do.

Rebates for all?

Posted February 15th, 2010 by debritz

According to a report in The Australian, radio stations are likely to lobby the Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, asking him to match for them the $250 million rebate it gave the television licence holders. Fairfax Media chief Brian McCarthy told the paper: "I don't quite understand why TV licence fees were reduced while radio licence fees weren't included. I don't think TV is any different." Of course, there are many other businesses who also have strong cases to ask for a reduction in the fees, taxes and other charges they pay the government -- and I'm sure they would be especially keen if, as with the gift to the TV networks, no strings are attached. As The Australian points out, critics are saying that the television stations should be obliged to spend at least some of their savings on Australian content.

Putting faces to ARN voices

Posted February 13th, 2010 by debritz

The stars of the Australian Radio Network hit the Valley in Brisbane on Friday night to promote not just their local stations, 4KQ and 973FM, but their national Mix and Classic Hits brands. Unusually, the hosts for the night were a double act who aren't even heard on the Brisbane airwaves -- Mix 106.5 and Mix 101.1 drive hosts Ant and Becks (Anthony Simpson and Anthony Toohey). Also up from Sydney were Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones from WS-FM, Mike "Mike E" Etheridge and Carmela Contarino from Mix 106.5 and new ARN chief executive Ciaran Davis, who arrived in Australia from Ireland just five weeks ago. They were, of course, joined by the folks from 4KQ, led by breakfast hosts Laurel Edwards, Gary Clare and Mark Hine, and 97.3's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher, and the ARN management team led by Peter Verhoeven, in an event largely designed at encouraging local advertisers, agencies and media buyers to part with their dollars to support the stations' local, national and digital platforms. Venue for the night was the tastefully decorated Zuri in the former press hall of the old Sunday Sun-Daily Sun building. Pictures show Laurel Edwards and Robin Bailey; Greg "Hinksy" Hinks and Gary Clare; Mike E and Carmella; and country music star Troy Cassar-Daley and Becks (with Coronas). More to come.

On the air

Posted February 12th, 2010 by debritz

On 612ABC, Spencer Howson and I discussed the perils presented on our roads by cyclists (and cars and pedestrians), whether the new Chinatown Mall in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley is worth the $8 million apparently spent on it, and why, in the age of social media, "live" should mean live in the media. The audio is here.

For those about to rock ...

Posted February 10th, 2010 by debritz

Less than a week after its Brisbane launch, Austereo is keeping its promise to be loud - by launching a new digital-only station called Triple M High Voltage. Yes, it's back-to-back AC/DC 24/7 and will be on the air and onliner at for four weeks during the iconic band's Australian tour. An Austereo media release says that station "will play all AC/DC songs from the big hits to the lesser known tracks, live versions of their songs and archived Triple M interviews".

Have a beer with Luttsy

Posted February 9th, 2010 by debritz

If Nova 106.9's David "Luttsy" Lutteral seems like the kind of bloke you'd like to have a beer with, well you can. In fact, if you've got the time and money, you can go all the way around central Europe and on to the famous Oktoberfest with him. The first thing to remember about Oktoberfest, though, is that it's in September, so don't mess up your holiday request. Details are here and on Facebook.

'Don't flick the switch'

Posted February 8th, 2010 by debritz

In the UK, 50 broadcasters are lobbying the government to delay the planned 2015 switchover to digital radio. While digital is well established in Britain, they argue that consumers will not be ready to abandon their analogue sets by then - and it will give time for the current DAB system to be upgraded to DAB+, as used here in Australia. Unsurprisingly, the manufacturers of digital radios back the current government timetable. More here at Media Guardian. Meanwhile, The Australian reports today that digital radio sales in Australia have exceeded expectations. Lara Sinclair reports that more than 100,000 units were sold in the first six months of digital broadcasting. I'm told, however, that given Australia's geography, a full switch-off of analogue services here is a long way away. I note, however, the Dick Smith is offering a DAB+ radio for $78 - the cheapest I've seen so far.

Not so Andy in the morning

Posted February 6th, 2010 by debritz

More from the Austereo Brisbane launch at GoMA on Thursday night ...
+ Don't expect to hear national drive stars Hamish and Andy in the breakfast shift (although I'm sure their bosses, and listeners, would love it). Andy Lee, who was one of the last to leave the function - well after the brekkie crews had made their excuses and headed for bed, with alarms clocks set for 3.30am) told me he and Hamish Blake are night owls who would never be able to get up early enough.
+ An Austereo executive told me Triple M Melbourne's latest breakfast experiment, led by Eddie McGuire, will absollutely pay off, despite it starting from a very low ratings base. He wouldn't be drawn on the future of Gus Worland and the Grill Team on Sydney's Triple M, however.
+ In the "formal" part of the evening, HG Nelson and Roy Slaven had the audience in stitches with their spray about how much they loved Brisbane (to the point, allegedly, where their Sydney and Melbourne bosses are telling them to shut up about it) and their pledge to keep the new Austereo promise that the future is loud. B105's Labby, Camilla and the Triple M Cage team - Ian "Skip" Skippen, Greg "Marto" Martin, Greg "Sully" Sullivan and Emily-Jade O'Keeffe - presented their plans for the year, while Hamish and Andy did a hilarious Q and A (with each other) aimed at getting the advertisers and agencies in the audience to open up their pockets.

Hamish and Andy look to the future

Posted February 5th, 2010 by debritz

First the bad news: Hamish and Andy will be quitting their popular national drivetime show, heard in Brisbane on B105. Now, the good news: not just yet. Andy Lee told me at the Austereo Brisbane launch at GoMA on Thursday night that the duo wouldn't be doing radio forever. But, they will remain a double act - they are, he stressed, old mates who had always worked together, unlike some of the media's artificially created teams. With management reps both in Australia and the US, where they've already performed a well-received turn on The Jay Leno Show, Hamish and Andy are open to offers down the track. But, Lee says, it's got to be the right project at the right time. Lee (right) and Hamish Blake were certainly a hit with the ladies at the Brisbane launch, although some attendees (below) also sought out the company of Triple M's HG Nelson (aka Greig Pickhaver) and Ian "Skip" Skippen.

Confidence rules at Austereo

Posted February 4th, 2010 by debritz

Austereo had its advertisers and media launch in Brisbane on Thursday night, and the message was that they are expecting to reach the No. 1 spot with B105 this year. My prediction is it'll happen by survey four, but Austereo bosses reckon they'll best Nova 106.9 by survey two or three. Also, Greg "Marto" Martin, from The Cage on Triple M, has confirmed that he will run for a seat at the federal election this year. He hinted at a team effort, with more than one candidate, and Cage member Greg "Sully" Sullivan revealed that he lives in prime minister Kevin Rudd's electorate, making him elegible to do a Maxine McKew. More on this story, including pictures from the big night at GoMA, to follow over the next day (or two).

Expect more

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by debritz

I heard a story recently about a police officer who pulled up a taxi driver for a minor traffic offence. The cabby pleaded with the cop: "Give me a break. I'm driving all day, every day. I only crossed a double line, it’s not so serious – and I can’t afford to lose any more points." The policeman looked him in the eye and said: “No, you don’t deserve a break. You’re a professional driver; this is what you do for a living. And if you can’t do it properly, you don't deserve to have a licence.” Harsh? Well, maybe. But what if the cab driver in question was a repeat offender who used that excuse every time, and often got away with it? It would mean there’s a dangerous driver on the road. And if the police routinely cut cabbies, truckers and other fulltime drivers some slack, the roads would be full of people who drove as if they had immunity from the law. Now, to the not-so-life-threatening business of journalism ... I’m sad to report that an increasing number of people in my profession are just like that taxi driver: they believe the rules don't apply to them. I’ve done lots of jobs in newspapers, and I’ve worked in the electronic and online media, and I’ve met quite a few cowboys and girls in my time. Now, with resources becoming scarcer, it’s time to weed them out. I’m not talking about the people who make the occasional mistake – we all do that, so please don’t comb through my blog to shove my unedited errors in my face – I’m talking about the people who demonstrate no professionalism whatsoever in undertaking the job they are paid to do. At one prestigious newspaper I could but won’t name, there’s a specialist writer who can’t spell the names of the people involved in the industry he (or maybe it’s she) writes about. The bosses laugh it off as if it doesn’t matter because it’s “the subs’ job” to fix it up. Another person I’ve dealt with blithely ignores deadlines, despite having a small workload and a round where late-breaking news is very much the exception. “Don’t worry,” these slackers seem to be saying, “the subs will just work harder to get it through. Oh, yeah, and I’ll make sure I fire off a complaint when they make a mistake even if I file my last copy more than an hour after the page is supposed to be complete.” Oh, and in case you’re an indignant reporter reading this, there are more than a few slack sub-editors, too. But because jobs – especially subbing jobs – are being cut across the board in journalism, everybody has to lift their game. If you’re in a round, the absolute minimum requirement is being able to spell the names of the people you’re writing about. If you can’t do that, how can anybody trust the other “facts” in the story? If you have a deadline, you stick to it. Preferably, you beat it wherever possible. If journalists want respect – and if they want secure jobs – they have to start behaving in a professional manner. The vast majority of my friends in the media do their job very well, but many of them are moving on. They are retiring, or they are taking up jobs in government and commercial PR. It would be easy for their bosses to replace them with cheap workers who aren’t very good – but that would be a false economy. What I believe should be happening is that the onus for accuracy is put on the shoulders of those who originate the copy, not those who have to handle it down the track and often don’t have access to the first-hand sources of information. This will speed-up the production process and lead to savings all around. If a mistake is made, it is worn by the person who made the error and corrected as soon as possible. Only when journalists are prepared to “own” their work, rather than palm off irritants like spelling and grammar and accuracy, will they be able to distinguish themselves sufficiently from the bloggers and enthusiasts who are threatening the viability of professional media. The punters don’t care what school you went to, who you know or who designed your outfit, they just want to read, and hear and see news and comment that informs and entertains – and is trustworthy and reliable. The time-wasters and amateurs will, hopefully, fade away, but the people who do the job properly and are willing to adapt their working practices will thrive whatever “delivery platform” they end up working on.

Not so think as you dumb I am

Posted February 1st, 2010 by debritz

Are journos getting dumber? That's what Meshel Laurie asks on her blog. The Nova 106.9 breakfast host and standup comic uses an example from where the expression "may of" is used instead of "may have". It's a subject I've addressed a few times in this blog and, to be fair, it's not just the newspaper and online journalists whose standards are apparently slipping. The quality of TV and radio journalism, especially on the commercial stations, is often comically appalling. Here are some of the mistakes that irritate me the most:
+ Confusing "deny" with "refute". One means to simply gainsay, the other is to prove something incorrect.
+ Writing or saying "try and" instead of "try to".
+ Using degrees of "uniqueness". Something is either unique or it isn't.
+ Dangling participles and other errors of syntax that attribute an action or quality to the wrong person or thing. For example: "Having killed the woman, pollice then chased her husband to an alley, where he turned his gun on himself." I'd like a dollar for everytime I've heard this kind of construction on the television news.
Standard escape clause: unlike the professional media, this blog is not sub-edited and is written, often hastily, by me in my own time. May contain mistakes. Headline contains deliberate error.

New look for ABC sites

Posted January 31st, 2010 by debritz

The ABC is promising a new look for its local websites, with the promise that they will "be brighter and easier to read, and the content you want will be easier to find". There's more here.

Cracking us up

Posted January 31st, 2010 by debritz

Mumbrella reports that Macquarie Radio Network is launching a DAB+ comedy channel called The Crack in Sydney. It seems like a logical way to use some of the additional digital spectrum that comes with its 2GB and 2CH licences, but it remains to be seen (heard?) whether advertisers will embrace it. But, wait there's more. The good news for those of us not in Sydney is that you can hear it online - here, at a website that also invites comedians to send in their best material for possible broadcast. Sounds like a win-win to me.
PS: Perhaps 4KQ, 4BC or 4BH could consider a digital comedy channel in Brisbane.

On the air

Posted January 28th, 2010 by debritz

Spencer Howson from ABC Brisbane websiteAs usual, I will be joining Spencer Howson on 612ABC on Friday at 6.50am AEST. You can hear the show on AM, on digital radio and through live streaming at
Update: You can hear my segment here.

Chris Smith set to return

Posted January 24th, 2010 by debritz

Chris Smith as pictured on 2GB websiteAs Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O know full well, the only crime in commercial radio is not rating well. And now, according to this Daily Telegraph report, 2GB's Chris Smith knows it, too. Smith, who was suspended by the top-rating Sydney talk station for allegedly groping women at the staff Christmas party, and has since acknowledged he has an alcohol problem, will reportedly return to the airwaves on February 1, having singned a three-year deal said to be worth $450,000 annually. No doubt, the official line will be that Smith - who has not been the subject of any official complaint - is contrite and has paid a penalty due to his brief suspension by the station. Of course, if he hadn't been rating well, it would most likely be a different story.

Thank God it's Friday

Posted January 22nd, 2010 by debritz

If you missed my first spot for 2010 on 612ABC's Breakfast with Spencer Howson program, or you liked it so much you want to hear it again, just click here to visit Spencer's blog. This week, the topics include the new 24-hour news channel ABC4 and why it annoys me when actors thank God when they win awards.

Back on the air

Posted January 21st, 2010 by debritz

My weekly spot on 612ABC's Breakfast with Spencer Howson show starts for 2010 on Friday, January 22, at 6.50amAEST when I'll give my spin on issues affecting Brisbane, the media, the arts and whatever else comes to mind. Spencer's program is the highest-rating AM breakfast show in Brisbane and was the No.1 show in its timeslot five times out of eight radio surveys last year (three times on its own and twice tied with Nova 106.9, which won the other three surveys). You can listen online at

Broadcast views

Posted January 17th, 2010 by debritz

If you are interested in radio, read the comprehensive article on the state of play of the medium by The Weekend Australian's James Chessell here. It touches on the likely impact of internet radio, which I believe is the biggest potential threat to established broadcasters and to the success of digital radio. In the future, it is likely that new cars (many of which already have some sort of computer in their dashboards) will be fitted not just with digital radio receivers but with internet-enabled devices that can access 4G or Wi-max or some other new technology. In the article, the Australian Radio Network's Ciaran Davis says: "We are competing with online radio stations and we need to broadcast to communities rather than geographic areas." (Chessell notes Davis is using the term "community" to refer to listeners with a common interest.) But, of course, part of radio's existing appeal is that it's often local in a way that television no longer is. Internet broadcasters might not just have to compete for the "communities" and threaten the networks' national reach, hyper-local stations might begin to syphon off audiences in the suburbs and country towns as well. It's possible that the government will legislate to protect the licence holders' share of advertising revenue, but there are many potential income streams for internet broadcasters, some of them outside the reach of Australian lawmakers. The upside for listeners will be a wider choice of listening, but the challenge for the networks will be to hold on to their audiences and to keep shareholders happy by growing their profits. That will mean some original thought, overturning long-held assumptions about audiences, and a degree of risk taking. The results could be thrilling.

Meshel Laurie's literary dream

Posted January 11th, 2010 by debritz

Update: Who wants to see Meshel Laurie in print in a major newspaper or online news service? Twitter hash tag #acolumnforMeshel
Meshel Laurie, the popular standup, TV guest and host of the top-rating breakfast show on Brisbane's Nova 106.9, says she can't get a column in a newspaper or magazine, so she's started her own blog (which you can read here). She writes:

I've been trying for years to get one. I eventually tried to get just a local one in Brisbane which frankly would not have satisfied my literary dreams but I thought it would be a start. Well, the Brisbane 'media' expects you to work for free ... They let me fill in for their resident domestic diva once when she went on holidays, then refused to cough up the fee afterwards and that was that. Bullshit.

More details, please.
PS: Oh, and in her profile, Laurie states "I am a comedian and at present I live in Brisbane because I got a radio job here". Does the use of the words "at present" mean she's contemplating a move - or am I still trying to flog a dead horse of a prediction I made years ago that she was bound for a southern radio gig?
PPS: Meanwhile, Dave Thornton has been officially added to the line-up of the Nova breakfast show when it returns next week, however this report says the door is still open for Ash Bradnam, currently in rehab following a drink-driving offence, to return to the show.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz will be heard on the Spencer Howson Breakfast Show on 612ABC on Fridays at 6.50am beginning January 22.

Jackie O: a slow learner

Posted January 11th, 2010 by debritz

You would have to be an ice queen not to cry about everything that happened, but you can only cry so much before you pick yourself up and say: OK, what can I learn from this?

Jackie O from 2Day websiteThat's Jackie O from Sydney's 2Day talking about the controversy last year when she and on-air partner Kyle Sandilands strapped a 14-year-old girl to a lie-detector and allowed her mother to ask her about her sexual experiences. O claims that, when the girl revealed she had been raped (and her mother already knew about it), it "... completely shocked us and broke our hearts". Of course, the incident should not have occurred in the first place - particularly since O and Sandilands had been warned years earlier about putting minors on air and talking about sex. When they were hosting the Hot 30 show in the mid-2000s, the duo engineered for a 17-year-old schoolgirl to confront her mother, who had been sleeping with the girl's boyfriend. At the time, a child psychologist told me, for publication in The Sunday Mail, that the airing of the emotional and heated conversation between the two amounted to child abuse. A transcript showed that O was very uncomfortable with the segment at the time and tried to call a halt to it. Sandilands told me in a phone interview that he overruled O and decided to keep going because he "had more experience" than her. If both of them had learned their lesson back then, last year's incident would not have happened, and another, even younger, girl would have been saved trauma and public humiliation.

Singo sledges Lawsy

Posted January 10th, 2010 by debritz

I hope it's not true. It would be a sad end to his career; it would be like going back to community radio.

That's John Singleton, owner of 2GB, referring to rumours that John Laws will be returning to the Sydney and regional airwaves from a purpose-built studio at low-rating 2SM. As I said before, I think Laws can be a success again, especially in the bush. By that, I don't mean he'll ever be No. 1 again, just that the Super Radio Network can make some money on the deal as long as Laws's asking price isn't too high. And making money is what commercial media is all about.
PS: A tweet from Brisbane's 4BH informs me that its on-air team -- Moyd Kay and Loretta Ryan for breakfast, followed by Greg Victor, Pete uddand Geoff Harrison -- will be back on air tomorrow, January 11.

BC back to full strength

Posted January 9th, 2010 by debritz

Jamie Dunn from 4BC homepageOne of my Twitter pals tells me that the full 2010 daytime line-up of Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder, Greg Cary, Peter Dick and Michael Smith will be on air on Brisbane's 4BC from Monday. Meanwhile, another source is claiming that Dunn's contract requires regular increases in the breakfast ratings and that this clause will be enforced this year.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is the cultural commentator for Spencer Howson's breakfast show on 612ABC. In 2010, he will return to the 6.50am slot on Fridays.

Question of the day

Posted January 7th, 2010 by debritz

When should a breakfast radio program begin and end? When BBC Radio Two launches its new breakfast show starring Chris Evans next week, it will run from 7am to 9.30am. Evans's predecessor, Terry Wogan, didn't kick off until 7.30am -- a full two hours later than the hours kept by ABC local radio shows in Australia (but they end at 7.45am to make way for the 45-minute news and AM block). Some commercial talk stations start at 5am (not a bad idea, since their audience tends to rise early -- but that should be true of Radio Two, too). The FM breakfast shows here tend to begin at 6am. What's going on? Do the Brits get up later than us or have the announcers merely negotiated more sociable hours?

John Laws: back to the future

Posted January 3rd, 2010 by debritz

Former king of radio John Laws is reportedly contemplating a comeback, and may be poised to sign with Bill Caralis's Super Radio Network, which is based at Sydney's 2SM. Will it work? Well, it will almost certainly lift 2SM's ratings, which have long been in the doldrums -- although they're not looking so bad in the bang-for-bucks stakes compared to big-spending FM rivals Triple M and Vega. Laws is known to and liked by Super Network listeners in the bush who heard his old 2UE morning show on relay. Advertisers also like Laws, because he's been willing to lend his authoritative voice to everything from multinational businesses to local car dealerships. I guess the sticking point will be how fit Laws is at 74 and how much money Caralis is prepared to spend. Laws obviously won't expect the money he received from 2UE but he also won't want to be seen to be doing it on the cheap. That might depend on whether stations outside of the Super Network are prepared to pick the show up. Once again, that comes down to money. If a networked show featuring an etsablished (though somewhat faded) superstar can be purchased at the right price, there's no reason why not. Of course, it's unlikely the show will be heard in Brisbane -- unless Ipswich's River 949 sees some value in it, of course.

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