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Gone and forgotten?

Posted October 30th, 2011 by debritz


Sir John Bjelke Petersen? Surely it was Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Missed it by that much

Posted October 30th, 2011 by debritz

There's no doubt that the grounding of the Qantas fleet was the big Australian news story of the day on Saturday.

What a pity then for Brisbane viewers who switched on the Channel Ten news at 5pm AEST - an hour after Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made his dramatic announcement at 5pm AEDT - to find it was led by a soft story about the Queen enjoying a barbecue in Perth and jetting off back to the UK.

Of course, Ten's weekend news no longer comes from the Brisbane studio but from Down South, and it's on a one-hour delay. In the breaking news cycle, 60 minutes can be forever.

Surely Ten should have the ability to do a fresh bulletin for the Queensland market when events dictate. (I remember Ellen Fanning, the former ABC Radio AM host, telling me many years ago that they'd sometimes do three versions of the program for different markets during daylight saving.)

It wasn't a great day all round for Ten, with political reporter Hugh Riminton sending out this tweet:

Such a shame that @alanjoyce is not Alan Joyce the Qantas CEO but a self-described "technophile" from Stanford, California. At least the American Joyce enjoyed all the attention, as his tweet today made clear:

He also tweeted: "I'm no more CEO of Qantas than @willsmith is a famous movie acto.r"

PS: It's worth pointing out, even if it's just for Hugh Riminton's sake, that @alanjoyceCEO isn't the Qantas boss either; it's a parody account (like @andrewbolt).

Update: A tweeter has pointed out that ABC TV's Insiders program is on delay in Queensland this morning (Sunday), when it should really be live on such a big news day.

Update 2: I wonder if Nine's Today Show and Seven's Sunrise will be shown live in Queensland during the Qantas dispute ...

Update 3: Riminton has his say.

Fairfax stations off the block

Posted October 28th, 2011 by debritz

Talks to sell Fairfax Media's metropolitan radio assets have fallen apart.

Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said in a statement: "As it transpired, the major bidder [generally thought to be John Singleton's Macquarie group] could not construct a finance package that was acceptable to us. The stations are terrific media operations, and we are committed to their growth and prosperity."

Significantly, Hywood added that Michael Anderson, a non-executive director of Fairfax Media and former CEO of rival radio group Austereo "has agreed to lead the development of a new strategic plan to drive the performance of the business".

In other words, while some employees may be sighing with relief that Singo hasn't got his hands on their station, it doesn't mean their won't be changes - not so much at the top-rated 3AW but almost certainly at 2UE in Sydney and 4BC in Brisbane.

Anderson's task will be to create efficiencies (i.e. save money) at the same time as engaging new audiences and advertisers. That will undoubtedly involve on-air changes for the 2012 year.

It also means Singleton will have to rethink his grand plan, probably starting with ditching the talk format on MTR in Melbourne, which has failed to attract audiences despite having such high-profile talent* as Andrew Bolt, Steve Price and Steve Vizard on air.

* I originally referred to them as "heavy hitters", which, as one tweeter point out, they demonstrably have not been.

Television on the road to nowhere

Posted October 26th, 2011 by debritz

I know the broadcast media is having a tough time at the moment, but some of it is due to a complete lack of foresight and a head-in-the-sand attitude.

It's well known to readers of this blog that I love radio, so it may not come as a surprise when I say that I think radio is more future-proof than broadcast television.

Why? Because radio is still largely about the creation of content; there are real, live people talking to you, devising and organising program elements (interviews, songs, comedy bits) to entertain and/or inform you.

Meanwhile, television is often just about broadcasting shows that have been made by somebody else - sometimes quite a long time ago. There are exceptions, such as news and current affairs programs, but they are very much in the minority in the schedule.

Radio can also react immediately to its audience's needs, to trends and to breaking news, in a way television still cannot. A radio show can change direction midstream as dictated by events, or simply on a whim. Television has to overcome many more technical and physical obstacles.

Given that it relies heavily on "bought-in" programs, television, especially free-to-air television, is going to have to adapt very quickly, or it will die.

Increasingly, TV stations simply act as "middlemen", trying to second-guess what kind of programs the audience wants to watch and when they want to watch them. There was a time when TV programmers made those decisions for us - variety shows on a Saturday night, movies on a Sunday, sport on weekend afternoons, news at 6pm nightly - and we had no choice but to go with the flow.

The VCR changed that, meaning we could record shows and watch them at our convenience. Now, with almost everything digitised and available on the internet (legally or illegally), each one of us can make personal programming decisions.

Television as we know it may play a role in introducing us to new material but if we're hooked on a particular show, we won't be waiting for them to decide when and how often to screen it, we will download it ourselves. Thousands of people are already doing this, and as their numbers grow, legal attempts to stop them will be increasingly ineffective.

It's a small world, and we're not going to wait weeks, months or years to see programs that have already been screened on free-to-air television in their home markets. (The second series of the popular UK drama series Downton Abbey is an example of something Australian viewers will have to wait too long to see on FTA TV.)

It's only a matter of time before content producers demand that their contracts with broadcasters are redrawn to also allow one or both parties to sell the shows directly to the public via download.

Producers and broadcasters who try to defy the tide of the torrent clearly haven't been paying attention to what happened in the music industry. When Apple gave people the option to download songs at a reasonable price, many of them did so - thus ensuring that the creators of the product got some compensation from people who were previously taking a free ride thanks to technology.

The challenge for the TV networks is to make production their core business, not just something they have to do (for example, to meet Australian content
requirements). Make great shows that people want to watch, and the future is assured, whatever the method of delivery happens to be.

Trying to make a buck simply buying product and screening it at leisure after stuffing it with advertisements (sometimes cutting the show to make way for them) is a certain road to ruin.

Give the Brizzos a go!

Posted October 24th, 2011 by debritz

Update: Channel 7 has denied reports it is contemplating line-up changes to Sunrise and Today Tonight. But, if there's a change of heart ...

If persistent newspaper and online reports are to be believed, Channel 7 is preparing to make drastic cast changes in a bid to revitalise its once-dominant breakfast show, Sunrise.

The latest speculation is that Melissa Doyle will become host of Today Tonight and David Koch will move to another, unspecified, position in the night-time schedule.

Sunrise, apparently, will be hosted by Today Tonight's Matthew White and Kylie Gillies, who will be replaced on The Morning Show by Samantha Armytage.

Exactly why the network would want to move White from a winning position and risk losing Today Tonight's dominance over Nine's A Current Affair isn't explained - although some reports have Doyle moving to the Sunday Night program rather than TT.

And while it's been reported that Seven initially tried to lure Georgie Gardner over from Sunrise's competitor, The Today Show, I wonder whether the network looked further afield before deciding to just shuffle the deck.

How about, for instance, importing some Brisbane talent? There are many suitable candidates to follow in the footsteps of Robert Rough, Billy J Smith, Leila McKinnon, Andrew Gunsberg and Chris Reason (among many, many other Queenslanders, stretching back to the likes of Ray Barrett and Leonard Teale) to become national stars.

Some suggestions (others very welcome):

+ Channel 10 newsreader Bill McDonald. He's got a warm personality and he sure knows his sport, especially AFL. He also has an established on-air partnership with Georgina Lewis that could become national.

+ 612ABC breakfast announcer Spencer Howson. He's a proven ratings winner, and he's used to the early starts. (OK, he was born in the UK but he's lived in Brisbane most of his life.)

+ Nova's Meshel Laurie may be in Melbourne now, but she is a Queenslander, and she's great value in any medium. Maybe she could be teamed with Kip Wightman (not a Queenslander, but he's been embraced by Brisbane radio audiences).

+ 4BC newsreader and Zoo Weekly "babe of radio" Natalie Bochenski.

+ Robin Bailey has TV experience (she was on Hey! Hey! It's Saturday), and has a strong radio following in the 24+ female demographic. (Yes, she is originally from Tasmania, but she's a Queenslander now.)

+ Channel 7 Brisbane's own Sharyn Ghidella, who did some wonderful, and quite touching, interviews as part of Channel 7's royal visit coverage.

+ Just about anybody on my list of suggested new 612ABC mornings hosts.

King already on the road?

Posted October 18th, 2011 by debritz

Tongues are wagging, as they often do, in Brisbane media circles today regarding the absence of Madonna King from the 612ABC airwaves. King is ill and was unable to host her morning show.

While some are saying that her temporary (and perhaps permanent) replacement, Terri Begley, may now be officially in the chair, it seems unlikely that King won't be back to farewell her audience, and let us know what her plans for the future are.

PS: The word I'm hearing is that she may be involved in some way in the television coverage of the upcoming royal visit.

Rugby remnants

Posted October 18th, 2011 by debritz

Missives from the front line of the Rugby World Cup, courtesy of the Grill Team on Brisbane's Triple M:

Host Greg "Marto" Martin, a former Australian rugby star, was asked to appear on the New Zealand version of This is Your Life to pay tribute to Kiwi flanker Zinzan Brooke, who played 58 tests for the All Blacks.

However, Marto said he Marto turned down the request to speak on the show because he "doesn’t like the bloke and couldn’t trust myself".

He says the Wallabies used to call Zinzan "Tim Tam" Brook, because he’s "soft in the middle and melts under heat".

It seems there's not a lot of love lost on either side, as Marto revealed that his wife Cath copped a huge amount of heckling at the Wallabies v All Blacks World Cup semi-final on Saturday night.

For 80 minutes she was taunted by an 11-year-old kid and his dad, apparently leaving her in tears after the game.

The perfect Malaysian Solution

Posted October 17th, 2011 by debritz

It's A Knockout always was a parody of a television sports show, so it makes perfect sense to cast H.G. Nelson as one of the hosts of the remake.

The format itself has been around for yonks in various countries - controversially so in the UK when Prince Edward produced a royal version, much to the delight of anti-monarchists.

In Australia it's remembered as a national vehicle for Billy J. Smith and Fiona Macdonald, who until then were largely unknown outside of Brisbane. (Remember local television? Anybody?) While I'd love to think Billy J. has one more season in him, it's a great gig for H.G., who has referred to the format as "the people's Olympics".

Now if only somebody will give H.G. and Roy Slaven a gig calling the real Olympics next year ...

Kyle's back in from the cold

Posted October 16th, 2011 by debritz

(Image from 2Day website)

Congratulations to the winners of the Australian Commercial Radio Awards, which were presented on the Gold Coast last night.

Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O (2-Day, Sydney, and other Austereo stations) may get a lot of negative press (a lot of it well deserved in the light of their stunt quizzing a child about her sex life) but they also got the big prize from their peers. They were named best on-air team (FM) over the likes of three-time winners Hamish and Andy (Austereo), Jonesy and Amanda (WSFM, Sydney), Fitzy and Wippa (Nova), and Matt and Jo Show (Fox FM, Melbourne).

The AM equivalent was won by Ross Stevenson & John Burn of Melbourne's 3AW breakfast show. Their colleague Derryn Hinch, who is court-ordered to stay out of the limelight, won the award for best current affairs report, which was accepted by his wife Chanel.

Brisbaneites among the winners were the 4BC sales team (who have been recognised before as the best in the business) and Nova 106.9 promotions director Dee Curtis.

Awards also went to Luke Bradnam from the Gold Coast's Hot Tomato (for best comedy segment), Neil Mitchell from 3AW (best talk show), Ray Hadley (best networked show) and Jules Lund of Austereo (best newcomer) , and the gongs were handed out by US actor Kelsey Grammer (one the grounds that he famously who played radio psychologist Frasier Crane on television).

There's an ABC report here, and the full results are here at Mumbrella.

PS: Neil Mitchell referred to the impending sale of the Fairfax Media radio stations, including 3AW, in this tweet last night:

AW cleaned up the awards. Derryn, Ross and John and me. Great result. Does our price go up now?

PPS: Despite a newspaper report today, Kyle and Jackie O do not have the most listened-to breakfast program in Sydney. In the most recent survey, they had a 10.1pc share of the breakfast audience. Alan Jones on 2GB had 19.2pc and Adam Spencer on 702ABC scored 14.2pc.

Who'll listen to the radio?

Posted October 14th, 2011 by debritz

"To those who say, that the radio over the internet will overtake broadcast radio I have just one thing to say – it won’t!"

So, according to, Commercial Radio Australia chair and DMG boss Cathy O'Connor told the National Radio Conference on the Gold Coast.

O'Connor went on to qualify her statement:

“The fact is there is not, and is unlikely to be in our lifetimes, enough bandwidth for reliable, robust, good quality services that can do what broadcast can do. That is – effectively communicate simultaneously, free to air and dependably to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people, anywhere, anytime.”

Now, I think Ms O'Connor is being overly optimistic in trying to predict advances (or lack of advances) in technology that didn't even exist less than a generation ago. I think it entirely probable that internet radio will match and exceed the abilities of broadcast radio within my lifetime.

What that will mean is increased competition - perhaps unfairly, from players who didn't have to invest in broadcast licences - but that should be seen as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable challenge.

What won't change is that good broadcasting will triumph over bad. Everyone in radio - and in the media as a whole - should be concentrating on producing quality, targetted content for a wide range of audiences, and let the means of delivery sort itself out.

Begley bags King's gig

Posted October 10th, 2011 by debritz

Terri Begley will be hosting 612ABC's flagship morning program when Madonna King vacates the chair later this month. Begley, whose first show will be on October 24, is also believed to be in the running to host the show full-time next year. (My list of potential candidates for the job has attracted a lot of interest.).

King, who intends to spend more time with her family, write a book and facilitate conferences, announced the transitional arrangement on her show today.

The same, but different

Posted October 3rd, 2011 by debritz

Is this the future of broadcasting? In the UK, Absolute Radio has four digital channels playing different formats: 80s, 90s, 00s and classic rock. They also have a big star announcer in comedian Frank Skinner, and they want him to be heard as widely as possible.

The solution: Skinner will be heard on all four stations, but the music will be different.

The Guardian reports:

The programme will be re-edited so that most of the words remain the same but the tunes will change depending on which station you listen to. So saying "I really like Frank Skinner but I just don't like the music" will no longer be an excuse for not tuning in. At least, that's what Absolute Radio bosses hope.

Spot the difference

Posted October 3rd, 2011 by debritz

ABC News is carrying different headlines for the same story: one on its main website and the other on the mobile version.

The first heading is, of course, a correct reference to the long-running British soap opera, set in Manchester; the second appears to refer to the Brisbane road where the ABC News online office is located.

Perhaps Aunty is planning its own in-house soapie.

The news about Mike Dalton

Posted September 28th, 2011 by debritz

As I tweeted yesterday, Mike Dalton has been officially appointed head of news at Channel 9 Brisbane, replacing Lee Anderson, who resigned in the wake of the "choppergate" affair (even though he was not there when it happened).

I've been informed by a hopefully-reliable source that the picture run in other media today (below) is of a Mike Dalton, but not the one in question.

I believe the guy in the picture is a "wacky" reporter for Nine's Today show. The one now in Brisbane has been senior chief of staff for Nine news in Sydney for the past seven years.

According to his Twitter profile pic, the "real" Mike Dalton is a somewhat more mature man with a liking for fishing.

Merrick Watts joins Triple M

Posted September 28th, 2011 by debritz

Update: According to this report, Watts' signing at Trilple M means the HG Nelson and Roy Slaven show will end. Now that's sad news for Australia radio. I hope somebody picks them up.

When his breakfast show was axed from Nova in Sydney, DMG said Merrick Watts was staying in the "Nova family". Not so. Here's a Southern Cross Austereo media release:

Triple M today announced it will deliver national radio favourite Merrick Watts for the drive home in 2012, and he’ll feel right at home on the iconic rock station with his uniquely Australian sense of humour.

Merrick will hit up the Triple M airwaves in Sydney and Brisbane from 4-6pm weeknights, building on the ratings success of The Grill Team with Matty, MG and Gus, plus complementing Triple M Brisbane’s new Grill Team with Marto, Pete and Michelle.

Merrick will also feature in Melbourne and Adelaide from 6-8pm nightly and around the country on Southern Cross Austereo’s network of Triple M regional Localworks stations.

Merrick Watts, Triple M drive host said, “I’m stoked to be doing drive at Triple M next year. Footy, rock and comedy is a trifecta of good times for me. Can’t wait to start.”

Craig Bruce, Head of Content for Southern Cross Austereo said, "We're incredibly excited about Merrick joining us in 2012. He's the perfect choice for Triple M which is gathering momentum right around the country. Triple M will have rock, sport and comedy in spades for the drive home next year.”

Some questions:

Will Watts be competitive against Nova's new national drive team of Meshel Laurie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell?

And will, as the persistent rumours have it, Andy Lee and Hamish Blake be returning to the Today network drive show five days a week in 2012? Well, Blake denied it in a tweet, saying: "Newspaper reports we're doing 5 days a week radio in 2012. Wrong. 5000 days a week! Also wrong. 1 day a week? Right. H "

Ian Skippen: comeback king?

Posted September 26th, 2011 by debritz

Dumped breakfast radio host Ian Skippen says he has had "some interesting offers" since parting ways with Brisbane's Triple M last week.

Skippen, who has been with the company now known as Southern Cross Austereo for more than 20 years, told 612ABC's Spencer Howson that he was "open to everything" because "radio is my passion".

But he indicated a preference for breakfast radio over a hypothetical offer to do the night shift on 612.

"I'm very privileged and humble to have been able to do what I've done," he said.

Asked about the future of the medium, Skippen said "radio will never die because it embraces and it invites you in and it's portable - we're in cars.[Many of our] listeners are in cars, in trains or on bikes."

But he also noted that listeners now have more choice than ever.

"They're not as loyal," he told Howson (who is the city's No.1 breakfast host) "except to you."

Skippen also said digital radio will grow as the hardware gets cheaper but conceded that on-air breakfast teams may have had their day.

"Maybe it's too expensive," he said, citing the economy and declining advertising revenue.

You can hear the interview here.

Marto's mates revealed

Posted September 25th, 2011 by debritz


(Photo from Triple M website.)

It's been confirmed that former Nova announcer Michelle Anderson will be joining Greg "Marto" Martin on the new Triple M Brisbane breakfast show. So, too, will be former Big Brother housemate Peter Timbs.

According to the Triple M website, the show will debut on Wednesday and will be known as The Grill Team - suggesting at least some interaction with the Sydney Triple M breakfast show of the same name featuring Matty Johns, Mark Geyer and Gus Worland (and making networking of content easier).

Good luck to them; it's going to be a tough battle in 2012.

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

Radio activity

Posted September 23rd, 2011 by debritz

+ The story so far + What next for Ian Skippen? + Who's on with Marto? + Where's Kip Wightman? + What about 4KQ, 4BH and 4BC?

The music hasn't stopped yet on the great game of musical chairs that's been Brisbane radio for the past few weeks. While I expect more changes to come, it's a good time to take stock of what's already happened and why.

The first interesting thing, to me at least, is the timing of all these changes and announcements. Normally, this sort of thing happens at the end of the year, and new line-ups debut in January.

It's clear that the battle for listeners' hearts and minds, and advertisers' dollars, in 2012 has already begun.

Let's recap: First, Nova 106.9 poaches Camilla Severi from B105, who replace her pretty quickly with Abby Coleman (described on the station's website as a "gorgeous chick", which is, of course, oh-so-important for a career in radio these days. Oh, and she's pregnant, which is a bonus if you want to engage with young mums, which B105 does).

Then, Nova also rehires the repentant Ash Bradnam and David "Luttsy" Lutteral, who were part of its successful original breakfast team. I predicted at the time that Kip Wightman, the original anchor, would also be back. Although he's at 97.3 right now, negotiations are still underway, which is why the bloke pushing the buttons is being called "Stand-in Dan".

All the Nova changes came about because the network wanted to change its Sydney breakfast show, getting rid of Merrick Watts and parachuting in the drive team of Fitzy and Wippa (Ryan Fitzgerald and Michael Wipfli). That, of course, meant there was a vacancy in national drive. Meshel Laurie has long wanted to return to Melbourne, so she and her fellow Brisbane brekkie hosts, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold (who had already hosted Austereo's Shebang drive show some moons ago), were natural choices for that gig.

While all that was underway, Southern Cross Austereo was also plotting to ditch The Cage breakfast show on Triple M Brisbane, to create a more sports-oriented show like the ones it has in Melbourne, with Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy, and Sydney, with Gus Worland and Matty Johns.

Now this might seem a bit strange, because both those shows are doing worse in the ratings than The Cage was. But, it's not only about numbers, it's about demographics. SCA presumably figures it can make more advertising moolah by having two different but complementary offerings in each market -- a "girly" station playing top 40 hits with funny banter, and a "blokey" one playing rock and talking a lot about sport.

Greg "Marto" Martin has been confirmed as the host of the Brisbane Triple M show, and there's been a lot of speculation about who the other team members are. The announcement will probably made in one of the weekend papers. (If I was still Sunday Mail entertainment editor, I know I'd want to run it - but I'd also want to run an interview with Ian Skippen.)

The timing is perfect with the NRL and AFL grand finals imminent, and the Rugby World Cup ongoing, but can they sustain their energy during the long summer of cricket? I guess a networked show will chew up some of the non-ratings time, though (and maybe paved the way for more interaction between the different teams, perhaps with a long-term view of a national breakfast program).

So, what next? Will the Australian Radio Network, which owns 4KQ and half of 97.3FM (with Nova owner DMG), want to make some changes too? Probably not at 97.3 -- at least not in breakfast, where Robin Bailey, Bob Gallagher and Terry Hansen are doing well -- but maybe at KQ.

I can almost guarantee there will be changes at 4BC and 4BH, but not until after the issue of ownership is settled. Fairfax Radio, which also owns 2UE in Sydney, 6PR in Perth, 3AW in Melbourne and other stations, has put all its assets on the block. The successful buyer is expected to be announced very soon, and they're likely to want to move quickly to be competitive in 2012. BC isn't doing anywhere near as well as commercial talk stations elsewhere in the country, and 4BH is not doing terribly well at all (it's not easy being an AM music station, which is also KQ's problem).

There's been a lot of talk online -- some of it started by me -- about the future of Triple M's Ian Skippen, a seasoned announcer with a strong personal following. If I were running ARN or whoever is buying BC and BH (probably John Singleton's Macquarie Media group but maybe not), I'd be chasing Skippen now. His appeal among longtime Brisbane listeners would definitely be a bonus for KQ, BH or BC. I wouldn't be surprised if Skip is fielding calls right now.

Now, what about 612ABC, whose morning show host Madonna King announced her resignation today? Well, that subject is deserving of a post of its own, and I'll be writing that one soon.

Ian Skippen image from Triple M Brisbane website tribute to The Cage

Madonna King to leave Brisbane radio show

Posted September 23rd, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane 612ABC's Madonna King is leaving her morning show on October 21 to pursue a new career moderating conferences and writing a book.

King told her audience she wants to spend more time with her young children and her husband. She said she had been considering the move since the start of this year.

King foreshadowed the announcement earlier in a conversation with breakfast host Spencer Howson, saying: "I have not been arrested and I am not carrying twins."

Premier Anna Bligh paid tribute to King this morning, saying the only person who could replace her was ABC political reporter Chris O'Brien. Bligh was talking to O'Brien at the time.

It's already known that there will be a change to the 612 line-up next year, because Richard Fidler will give up his early afternoon slot to concentrate on the national Conversation Hour at 11am. Author John Birmingham has been filling in for Fidler during the past week.

The 612ABC weekday line-up of Howson (who is Brisbane's No.1 breakfast announcer), King, Fidler, Kelly Higgns-Devine and Steve Austin has remained stable for the past five years.

The past few weeks have already seen changes at B105, Nova 106.9 and Triple M, where Ian Skippen and the Cage are hosting their final breakfast show today. Radio insiders expect even more changes to come for 2012.

Update: Here is some audio from this morning's Madonna King program, beginning with her winding-up a chat with Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining Stirling Hinchliffe and LNP parliamentary leader Jeff Seeney.

Skippen through the years

Posted September 22nd, 2011 by debritz

While speculation mounts about who will replace Ian Skippen on the Triple M breakfast show, The Courier-Mail has rightly given over some space today to pay tribute to the veteran broadcaster.

Skip, or Skippy, as he's known on air (it's compulsory for everyone to have a nickname on commercial radio), has been a part of Brisbane's breakfast diet for decades, and he's a good bloke to boot.

However, these paragraphs raised at least one of my eyebrows:

On air for 42 years yet only 51? My, he did start young.

I sincerely hope we haven't heard the last of Skip. There are a few stations in the Brisbane market alone that could do with someone with his experience and proven audience appeal. For example, the soon-to-be-announced new owners of 4BH and 4BC might want to take a close look at his resume (not to mention the ratings figures).

Somehow, though, I think we can rule out a reunion between him and his old B105 sparring partner Jamie Dunn, but that could make compelling gloves-off radio.

Who are Marto's Triple M mates?

Posted September 21st, 2011 by debritz

Update: This subject has provoked spirited comment on Twitter and TV. One tweeter says both names are wrong, others say Michelle Anderson (former Nova) - or perhaps Mel Anderson - will be part of the show, and names including Jason "Aker" Akermanis and Richard Campion have been thrown in the mix. Once again, I've sought clarification from Triple M ...

Update 2: (Sep 22) The Courier-Mail is also tipping Anderson and Akermanis, along with Jamie Charman.

I'm sure I'll write about this more, and at greater length, but the rumour doing the rounds is that Paul "Fatty" Vautin and Ben Ikin will be the "mates" joining Greg "Marto" Martin on air on Triple M Brisbane's rebooted breakfast show.

As tipped here yesterday, and confirmed this morning, The Cage breakfast show has been axed after six years. Out the door are Ian "Skippy" Skippen, Emily-Jade O'Keeffe and Greg "Sully" Sullivan, but Martin remains.

I guess if you're going for a blokey show to complement Triple M's offerings in Sydney and Melbourne, then it makes sense to have two rugby league pundits on your panel. But what happens when the cricket season rolls around, and who's going to cover off on AFL?

The Cage closes

Posted September 21st, 2011 by debritz

Another week, another change in the Australian radio landscape: Triple M Brisbane has announced that its long-running breakfast show, The Cage with Ian Skippen, Greg "Marto" Martin, Greg "Sully" Sullivan and Emily-Jade O'Keeffe, is coming to an end.

Only Martin will remain with the station, to host a new sport-themed program with "a few of his mates".

The final Cage show will be broadcast this Friday, September 23, with a celebration of its six years on air.

Southern Cross Austereo Brisbane general manager Richard Barker said making the decision to end The Cage was "incredibly tough".

“This is a decision which has been one of the hardest to make. It involves a team of people who are highly talented, supremely professional and genuinely likeable. It has been a privilege to have them in our team for so long," he said.

“Brisbane as a city is growing incredibly fast; it’s changing constantly and our listeners are reflecting the change. Enabling us to reach our targeted audience is critical to the success of Triple M, and we have made a decision to change our breakfast show. As a result, the cycle for The Cage format has come to an end.”

“The Brisbane radio landscape probably hasn’t seen this much change across the board since the introduction of the last new FM licence in 2005, and after listening to those that listen to us, we are keen to introduce the new show and new format as soon as possible."

Barker described Skippen, who formerly captained the B105 Morning Crew for two decades, as "an institution on the radio landscape of Brisbane" and as "true radio royalty".

"The man has made an indelible mark on Brisbane and we thank him unconditionally for working with Triple M, and prior to that, sister station B105,” he said.

From the Triple M website

Broom hits Brisbane radio?

Posted September 20th, 2011 by debritz

A strong rumour has emerged that a Brisbane radio station is poised to sack its entire breakfast team. I have been told which one, but in fairness to all those involved, I am seeking a comment from management before publishing anything else. I'll update this blog as soon as that happens, or other confirmation emerges.

Update: No word from station management yet, but I believe other media are chasing the story. Remember, you read it here (or saw it on my Twitter feed) first - and that I'm doing the right thing by waiting for official confirmation or other comment before posting the name of the station or names of the individuals involved.

Aunty's finest

Posted September 16th, 2011 by debritz

As a judge in two of the categories, and a keen radio listener, I'd like to extend my congratulations to the winners of the ABC Local Radio Awards. I know it's usual and polite and boring to say that the standard was very high, but it really was, and all entrants do deserve commendation. It's a privilege to have heard so much great program-making and community engagement from all around Australia. The full list of winners is here.

97.3 consolidates ratings success

Posted September 13th, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane's 97.3FM has hung on to its overall lead in the radio ratings, despite a small drop in audience, and is ahead of a neck-and neck B105 and Nova 106.9, with a resurgent Triple M not far behind.

612 ABC's Spencer Howson (pictured) remains No.1 in the battle for breakfast.

4BC has also had a ratings rebound, which put in back in front of 4KQ overall and equal fifth (approaching double figures for the first time in ages) in breakfast. However, the results are bad news for 4BH, which has dropped to a recent-memory low of a 4.6pc share overall (5pc on the by-demographic figures) and 3.8 in breakfast.

4BC may have gone in the right direction in breakfast, but 612ABC's Madonna King had a good survey, scraping ahead of BC's Greg Cary in the morning shift. Aunty's Steve Austin also did well, and is now No. 1 in nights. 4BC's Walter Williams also did well in nights, with a 2.7 percentage points rise.

The 4BH and 4BC figures are significant in a month where their sale from Fairfax Radio, possibly to the Macquarie Media group, is expected to be announced.

The breakfast results were: Spencer Howson 612ABC (13.4pc audience share); Nova 106.9's Mashel Laurie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell (11.3pc); and 97.3 FM's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher (10.7pc).

Overall, by session, the order was: 97.3FM, B105, Nova 106.9, Triple M, 612ABC, 4BC, Triple J, 4KQ, 4BH, ABC Radio National, ABC FM (Classical) and ABC News Radio.

B105's Labby (Jason Hawkins) and Stav Davidson rated 9.8pc, a recent low for the former high-rating team, which suffered the turmoil of losing co-host Camilla Severi to Nova 106.9. The addition of Abby Coleman to the show is not fully reflected in these results, for June 26 to September 3.

B105 was ahead of Triple M's The Cage, with Ian Skippen, Emily Jade O'Keeffe, Greg Martin and Greg "Sully" Sullivan (9.4pc), who tied with Peter Dick and Mary Collier on 4BC. 4KQ's Laurel Edwards, "Handy" Gary Clare and Mark Hine (8.5pc)were next, followed by Triple J's Tom and Alex (6.6pc) and 4BH's Michael Price.

The survey 6 results have been released in a week that sees more changes in the radio soundscape.

The figures also do not reflect the changes at Nova, which launched a new breakfast show in Brisbane this week featuring former B105 personality Camilla along with ex-106.9 cereal stars Ash Bradnam and David "Luttsy" Lutteral, and a new national Drive show with the most recent Brisbane breakfast team of Meshel, Marty and Tim.

In Sydney, 2GB and its star attraction, breakfast host Alan Jones, are both up in the ratings and in No.1, ahead of 702 ABC and Adam Spencer, and 2Day and Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O.

2UE, another Fairfax station on the block, is down overall and in breakfast, although Nova 96.9 and its departing long time breakfast host Merrick Watts had a slight rebound.

In Melbourne, 3AW and its John Burns and Ross Stevenson breakfast juggernaut, continue to lead the way ahead of Fox FM and 774ABC. Triple M's Eddie McGuire put on listeners as the AFL season draws to its climax.

Despite big names including Andrew Bolt, MTR is languishing at the bottom of the ratings pile. Its future seems sealed if and when its operator Macquarie gains control of its superior competitor 3AW.

While Hamish Blake and Andy Lee may not be setting the television world on fire, they are being missed on radio. In their hometown of Melbourne, Fox lost a ratings point in the Drive shift they now only host once a week, and numbers were also slightly down for B105 and 2Day.

As recommended by ...

Posted September 5th, 2011 by debritz

Today is David "Luttsy" Lutteral's birthday. Next week, he and his old pal Ash Bradnam will be returning to the airwaves on Nova 106.9 as breakfast hosts alongside former B105 star Camilla Severi. Reason enough, I reckon, for me to revive this old video of Ash and Luttsy endorsing this blog:

Cool on Camilla

Posted August 30th, 2011 by debritz

In reference to my post here, here are some of the comments on the Nova 106.9 website regarding their new breakfast star, Camilla Severi:

What the public wants

Posted August 30th, 2011 by debritz

One of the first things I learned in newspapers is that an editor should not pay an undue amount of attention to the content of letters to the editor. Mostly, I was told (and later discovered for myself), they were written by the same people grinding the same axes, and they were in no way indicative of the consensus of the general (or targetted) public.

The fact though was that, if you wrote to the newspaper enough, the chances were that you'd get published often and you'd have a disproportionate say. The same is true of callers to talk radio - ring in a lot and, especially if you're provocative or a bit simple (so they can poke fun of you), or it's a slow time of day, you'll get to air. Now, the same is true in the online world - post a lot of comments and no matter how awful, inane or inflammatory they are, they will appear.

However, letters to the editor are almost always read carefully and edited by professional journalists who understand the laws of defamation, contempt of court and sub-judice, and have a fairly well-honed sense of what is appropriate and fair, and what isn't. Many papers also go to the effort of confirming the true identity of the writer.

On radio, producers vet callers before they go to air, and "live" broadcasts are on a 5-to-7-second delay, meaning the announcer or panel operator can press a "kill" button if things get out of hand and the offending words won't be heard by the listeners.

But, as I noted on Facebook and Twitter yesterday, it seems that some media websites are not paying enough attention to the comments being posted on their websites. I wrote this in regard to Sydney's 2UE, which was still publishing comments referring to allegations about Prime Minister Julia Gillard which The Australian newspaper had already acknowledged were false.

I asked: Where was the moderator? To my mind, many of the comments on that issue, and many other issues, should have been edited or not published at all. It's got nothing to do with my political views, it's the simple fact that if any media site publishes a defamatory remark and it does get sued, it will only have itself to blame.

Meanwhile, over at the Nova 106.9 website, a potentially more dangerous game was (and, as I write, still is) being played. They were running a Twitter feed displaying any tweets using a particular hashtag, plus Facebook comments from a fan page, about their new breakfast show. I'm assuming the process is completely automated, which may be cheap but it is in no way in the station's own interests.

As it's turned out so far, it's meant that Nova has been "publishing" some rather unflattering and potentially hurtful comments about its own new breakfast star, Camilla Severi. I feel sorry for her but I'm also tempted to say, good on Nova for allowing people to express their views freely, even if they are at odds with the company's own commercial aims.

Presumably Nova's research indicates that the comments are wrong, and the new show will be a success. Maybe they think any publicity is good publicity. (However, I'm sure if somebody rang in and started bagging the station or its stars, they'd be "killed" pretty quickly.)

But there's a more serious issue here than simple abuse: what if somebody were to tweet an extremely defamatory or racially offensive remark using the Nova-nominated hashtag and it ended up on the company's website for a sustained period of time? What if somebody sued? Who would be responsible: the author (if they could be identified) or the publisher?

Surely a test case on this issue is not far away.

PS: I've posted some of the comments here.

It's Ash, Camilla and Luttsy

Posted August 29th, 2011 by debritz

As predicted on this blog, Ash Bradnam and Camilla Severi will host Nova 106.9FM's breakfast show.

I also reported (here) that David "Luttsy" Lutteral and Kip Wightman had been in talks to join the show, which replaced the Meshel (Laurie), Tim (Blackwell) and Marty (Sheargold) program, soon to be heard nationally from 4-6pm.

Luttsy has been confirmed as part of the line-up, and I believe Kip may also join (unless he's had a better offer from ARN, for whom he hosts the 97.3 afternoon show), as the show's anchor. He's certainly got the chops for another primetime gig. A non-scientific survey of online reaction suggests that would be a popular move (although some Tweets and posts have been less than cool about Camilla - see the edited extract from the Nova tweet feed, below.)

Nova says Ash, Camilla and Luttsy will be on air from September 12, suggesting Severi has been released early from her contract with B105, which reportedly runs to the end of the year.

They will be going head-to-head in the hits music arena with and the revised line-up of Labby (Jason Hawkins), Abby Coleman and Stav Davidson on B105. the resurgent Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher on 97.3FM are playing a slightly older-skewed music list but are still chasing many of the same advertisers.

As I've been writing for months now, stay tuned for further changes in Australian radio in the coming weeks and months. 2012 will be a do-or-die year.

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