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Howson shows how it's done

Posted December 13th, 2011 by debritz

612 ABC breakfast host Spencer Howson has made it a clean sweep of the Brisbane radio ratings, with the year's final survey confirming him as the capital's No. 1 cereal thriller.

Howson has been the listeners' choice in the cornflakes session since the middle of last year.

Overall, the winner was 97.3FM, ahead of a packed field, with Nova, B105 and Triple M close behind, all within 0.4 percentage points, then 612ABC, 4KQ, Triple J, 4BC and 4BH following.

In breakfast, 97.3FM's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher tied with Triple M's Grill Team with Greg "Marto" Martin for second place, and B105's Labby, Stav Davidson and Abby Coleman tied for fourth with Nova 106.9's Ash Bradnam, David "Luttsy" Lutteral, Camilla Severi and Dan Anstey (standing in for Kip Wightman, who will return to the station in January). They were followed by 4KQ, 4BC, Triple J and 4BH.

Ratings for 4KQ and 4BC softened in breakfast, but they had gains overall, and 4BH rebounded from a shocker of a survey last time to gain 1.9pc in breakfast and 1.0pc overall.

In the drive session, B105's Fifi and Jules/ Hamish and Andy combo losing 2.8pc, leapfrogged by 97.3FM's Paul "Campo" Campion, and Nova' Meshel Laurie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell down 0.5pc but still No.1.

In the evenings, there was a 4.0pc shift to Triple M's Peanut Gallery, but it was not enough to get ahead of B105's Hot 30 and 612ABC's Steve Austin, who both lost audience share.

In other breakfast radio news, it's been revealed that acting 612ABC Mornings host Terri Begley will be on the road next year as roving reporter for the afternoon show, to be hosted by Kelly Higgins-Devine, and Tim Cox's new drive show.

Ryan Seacrest to be heard in Brisbane

Posted December 8th, 2011 by debritz

Update: More changes at ARN: Jocks' Journal hasreported that 97.3FM mornings host Jo Henderson is "taking a break" and that Mix 106.5's Anthony "Becks" Toohey has been ordered by doctors to have an extended rest. There are also internet rumours about the future of Mix host Marnie T.

American Idol and E! Entertainment star Ryan Seacrest will be heard on Brisbane's 97.3FM from January 16, according to media website Mumbrella.

On Air with Ryan Seacrest is already heard on Sydney and Melbourne stations owned by the Australian Radio Network (ARN), and will also be heard in Adelaide from next month.

Mumbrella quoted ARN national content director Duncan Campbell as saying: "After a review of the station’s programming we felt there was an opportunity to seize the market in the early evening. Ryan Seacrest has access and connections to all the big celebrities and happenings in Hollywood .

“Ryan Seacrest has proved very popular for our target market in Sydney and Melbourne and we are excited to expand nationally in 2012, now offering this program to listeners in Adelaide and Brisbane.”

Radio industry sources have told me that Kip Wightman, who is currently heard on 97.3FM in the early afternoons, will be rejoining the breakfast team at Nova 10.6 breakfast team "by April at the latest". It is possible that the addition of Seacrest to the 97.3FM line-up could mean Wightman moves earlier - although the latest news from ARN (see update at top of story) perhaps suggest there may be a different opportunity for him at 97.3, which is co-owned by ARN and Nova owner DMG Radio.

The other inference to be drawn from the move is that 97.3, which has been resisting networking (and has been successful in doing so), is being brought more into line with ARN's Mix brand.

4BC announces summer stars

Posted December 8th, 2011 by debritz

Former Brisbane television newsreader Jillian Whiting will team up with onetime 4BH and 4BC breakfast host Kim Mothershaw to present the breakfast show on 4BC over summer.

They will replace Peter Dick and Mary Collier, who are taking a Christmas break, from December 19 until December 30.

From January 2 to 6, Mothershaw will be joined in the breakfast chair by Dean Banks, a radio veteran who was once part of 3AW's breakfast line-up.

Meanwhile, 4BC has also confirmed that garden guru Colin Campbell will be hanging up the microphone after almost 30 years on air.

His last show will be on Sunday, January 1. His co-host Clair Levander, a qualified horticulturalist, will continue on in the popular show.

In a statement, 4BC general manager David McDonald said: “This is an extremely sad time for Col’s listeners and staff at 4BC. He has had nothing but a positive influence on both the station and the gardening industry over many, many years.

"I would like to personally thank him for his major contribution and wish both him and his wife Beverly all the very best for his pending retirement.”

Colin Campbell photo from

A dirty, fishy business

Posted December 7th, 2011 by debritz

It's being billed as the biggest marketing blunder of the year. Advantage SA and Advantage Adelaide sent out goldfish to promote South Australia in bowls carrying the slogan: “Be the big fish in a small pond and come test the water.”

Sadly, "a number" of the fish were dead on arrival at their destinations.

However, those in the media with long memories will remember a time when journalists were deliberately sent dead fish (and I'm not talking about the barramundi sent to Media Watch.)

When the John Cleese film A Fish Called Wanda was released in Brisbane in 1988, the publicists sent a live goldfish to movie journalists. As far as I know, they were all still alive when delivered.

A rival firm publicising the movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels then sent a dead gold fish to the same journalists, including a close colleague of mine.

Somehow I don't think anybody will be doing that again any time soon.

Laugh with the ladies

Posted December 6th, 2011 by debritz

It's a case of two down, one to go for Ladies' Comedy Night at the Sit Down Comedy Cub at the Paddington Tavern.

Mel Buttle joined MC Katrina Davidson on stage last Sunday, and on December 11 it'll be Fiona McGary's turn to headline. Rumour has it that B105's Stav Davidson (nepotism alert: he is related to Kat by marriage) will be making a guest appearance as the token male in the show.

Even if Stav, who is busy raising fund for the station's Children's Hospital Appeal this week, is a no-show, it's no reason not to go. Last week's crowd, including some familiar voices from Brisbane radio, had a hoot.

Details are here.

Tribute to Artie Beetson

Posted December 4th, 2011 by debritz

A state memorial service for rugby league legend Arthur "Artie" Beetson will be held at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday, December 18, at midday.

Premier Anna Bligh also announced that a bronze statue of Beetson would be cast and exhibited at the northern plaza of the stadium. The statue will be funded equally by the Queensland Government, the Former Origin Greats (FOGs) and Channel 9.

Beetson, who died while cycling on the Gold Coast last week, was the first indigenous Australian to captain his country in any sport.

He also captained the first Queensland State of Origin team.

Tim's a'changing

Posted December 4th, 2011 by debritz

Gold Coast breakfast radio host Tim Cox says he's excited about packing his bags and moving to Brisbane.

As part of a series of changes at 612ABC, Cox (at left in picture) will be hosting the daily drive program in 2012.

Cox, who has most recently been heard on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast and had a long career before that on ABC Tasmania, won't be joining the ranks of the Coast-to-city commuters. He told me he will definitely be moving to somewhere in Brisbane, where he'll be working from the new ABC studios at South Bank.

"We have a few areas in mind but want to be settled before I start on-air," he said.

Cox said the priority was getting his young son settled in a new school.

"[I'm] very excited about the move - for me, 612 embodies all that is great about ABC Local Radio."

Meanwhile, Steve Austin (right in picture) says he's honoured to be asked to take back the reins of the 612 morning shift, which he hosted in the early 2000s before moving to evenings.

"I can't think of a more exciting time then now to be returning to mornings. 2012 is shaping up one of the most interesting periods in my lifetime. You can expect some quality debates, panels, distinguished guests and a bit of fun along the way," he said in an ABC media release.

"I look forward to the challenging role and hope the listeners will be both surprised and entertained as we bring the realities of the world closer to Brisbane.”

"I'm looking forward to being a part of that and all that Brisbane has to offer."

Photos from

Dan's stand set to end

Posted December 3rd, 2011 by debritz

In answer to questions about the Nova 106.9FM line-up for 2012, my information from a self-described "extremely credible source" is that Stand-In Dan Anstey will be only warming the seat anchoring the Ash, Camilla and Luttsy show until early in the new year.

Former Nova anchor Kip Wightman, who is currently being heard on Nova's half-sister station 97.3FM, is expected to return to the job in April.

Anstey will remain with the station in an as-yet-unspecified role.

612 ABC media release

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by debritz

Further to the story about the 612 ABC line-up for 2012, here's the official press release.

Today 612 ABC Brisbane announced its line up for 2012.

Steve Austin will be the new host for Mornings, Kelly Higgins-Devine will host Afternoons, Tim Cox will host Drive and Rebecca Levingston will host Evenings.

"The change in the line-up offers an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the wealth of talent within the ABC,” said Jen Brennen ABC Local Content Manager Queensland.

Number one Breakfast presenter Spencer Howson continues to host the weekday breakfast program in 2012. Spencer retained the number one position throughout 2011 (source A C Nielsen) and is an active user of twitter which allows him to converse with his audience far beyond his on air hours of 5 - 7.45am.

Steve Austin returns to the Mornings role from Statewide Evenings where he has consistently rated first or second in the market.

“I’m honoured to be asked by the ABC to take on the role,” Steve said.

"I can't think of a more exciting time then now to be returning to Mornings. 2012 is shaping up one of the most interesting periods in my lifetime. You can expect some quality debates, panels, distinguished guests and a bit of fun along the way. I look forward to the challenging role and hope the listeners will be both surprised, and entertained as we bring the realities of the world closer to Brisbane.”

Richard Fidler has stepped down as host of the Afternoon program to concentrate on Conversations between 11 and 12, which will continue to be broadcast from Brisbane.

"I've had six years of extraordinary fun with Afternoons," said Richard. "However, Conversations has expanded beyond its Brisbane origins into Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Tasmania and it now requires me to give it my fullest love and care."

Kelly Higgins Devine will now take on the Afternoons role between 1 and 3 pm.

“I am looking forward to reconnecting with the Afternoons audience having presented the program for two years back in 2004/5. I enjoy the eclectic mix of stories you can cover in that part of the day," said Kelly Higgins-Devine.

Tim Cox, former Breakfast presenter on sister station 91.7 ABC Gold Coast, will host Drive. "I have long admired the relationship 612 has with the Brisbane community and its entertaining, thought-provoking output. I'm looking forward to being a part of that and all that Brisbane has to offer," said Tim.

Rebecca Levingston who anchored 612 ABC coverage in breakfast during the floods earlier this year and has been familiar to audiences as field reporter will now host Evenings.

"Tim and Rebecca will complement our existing presenters and ensure we continue to engage with our audiences and deliver what is expected from 612 ABC Brisbane," said Jen Brennen.

Weekends remain an important part of the schedule. Phil Smith will continue to present Saturday breakfast as will Warren Boland with Weekends.

Grandstand will continue with local hosts Quentin Hull and Alistair Nicholson.
The new line-up comes into effect from Monday 16 January 2012.

Highlights for 2012


Breakfast5am - 7: 45amSpencer Howson
Mornings8:30am – 11amSteve Austin
Conversations 11am – 12Richard Fidler
Afternoons1pm - 3pmKelly Higgins-Devine
Drive3pm - 6pmTim Cox
Evenings7pm - 10pmRebecca Levingston

Breakfast 6am - 9am Phil Smith
Weekends 9am - 12pm Warren Boland
Weekends 10am - 12pm Warren Boland

Please note the Afternoon program can also be heard on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast and 90.3 ABC Sunshine Coast. Evenings with Rebecca Levingston can be heard state-wide across all ABC Local Radio stations. Weekends is broadcast state-wide from 10am Saturday and throughout Sunday.

612 names 2012 lineup

Posted December 2nd, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane's Radio 612ABC has announced its weekday line-up for 2012, with two new voices and a reshuffle of exisiting talent.

Steve Austin is returning to the morning shift, which includes the ABC's agenda-setting State political and current affairs coverage from 8.30am, and will be replaced on the evening shift by Rebecca Levingston (pictured), an experienced announcer and producer who has filled many roles on 612 in recent years.

Kelly Higgins-Devine is moving from Drive to the afternoon shift, to be replaced by Tim Cox, who is currently the breakfast announcer on ABC Coast FM on the Gold Coast.

The full line-up, which represents the first change for 612ABC in five years, is:

  • Breakfast with Spencer Howson

  • AM
  • Mornings with Steve Austin (who moves from Evenings, but was the Mornings host before recent incumbent Madonna King. He has also been the program director at 612.)
  • Richard Fidler's Conversations
  • The World Today
  • Afternoons with Kelly Higgins Devine (who moves from the Drive shift to replace Fidler, who is winding back his on-air time.)
  • Drive with Tim Cox (a highly regarded ABC announcer who recently moved to the Gold Coast from Hobart.)
  • PM
  • Evenings with Rebecca Levingston (replacing Steve Austin).

Meanwhile, B105 and Triple M have confirmed that they will go into 2012 with their current line-ups. It is also believed the line-up will stay the same at 4KQ, where Laurel Edwards, who co-hosts breakfast with Gary Clare and Mark Hine, recently celebrated 20 years in the job.

B105 and Triple M both changed their breakfast teams this year, with The Grill Team with Greg Martin replacing The Cage with Ian Skippen on the Ms.

At B105, Abby Coleman joined Jason "Labby" Hawkins and Stav Davidson, replacing Camilla Severi, who joined Nova 106.9's breakfast show, along with Ash Bradnam, David "Luttsy" Lutteral and "Stand In" Dan Astey. The former breakfast team of Meshel Laurie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold now host the national Nova drive show.

Most stations will be going into summer mode in the next few weeks, with many programs originating from Sydney or Melbourne.

B105 will be taking the national Summer Fill In Show with Andy Lee, Glenn Robbins and Cackling Jack for two weeks from December 5. Will and Woody will take over until January 6.

612ABC's breakfast show will be hosted by Stacey Milner. Spencer Howson will return to the airwaves in time to present the show from the ABC's new South Bank Parklands studios on January 27.

The official 612 ABC media release is here.

Photo of from

Stacey's the summer stand-in

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

612 ABC Brisbane producer and journalist Stacey Milner will present the station's Summer Breakfasts show from Monday, December 5.

Milner describes herself on Twitter as "mother of two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, semi-serious runner".

Regular presenter Spencer Howson, who announced Milner's appointment this morning, will take Christmas leave and is scheduled to host the first breakfast show from the ABC's new South Bank Parklands studios on January 27.

Breakfast will be the only local ABC Radio program during the move to South Bank, which will eventually house Aunty's various departments on the one premises for the first time since the abandonment of its Toowong site, which has been linked to more than a dozen cases of breast cancer among employees and former employees.

The ABC is expected to announce its full 2012 radio line-up tomorrow afternoon. While the extent of the changes is not known, it will include new voices in the Mornings and Afternoon shifts, replacing Madonna King, who has left the ABC, and Richard Fidler, who will concentrate solely on his networked 11am Conversations with Richard Fidler program.

Last chance to see

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

Scaffolding is being raised around the doomed Elizabeth Street facade of the Regent Theatre, so this is probably the last view you'll get of it. Have a good, hard look at what the powers-that-be in Queensland are happy to see lost forever:

(Cross-posted from

Don't stop the presses

Posted December 1st, 2011 by debritz

The controversial Civil Union legislation passed through Queensland State Parliament at 11.10pm yesterday.

So, you'd expect it would be all over the capital's only daily newspaper this morning. Um, well, no - at least not in the home-delivered editions received by people I know who live as close as 4km to the Brisbane CBD, and surely no more than 15km from the paper's presses.

The story in the edition I saw said - on page 9 - that gay couples (and the rest of us, presumably) would "know this morning" if the bill had passed.

When I worked for the now-defunct Daily Sun, the deadline for the final edition was 1.30am on the day of publication - and for a big story, it could be pushed even further. Interestingly, even back then a colleague noted that every time new technology was introduced - such as the conversion from hot metal presses to "cold type" - the deadlines moved earlier, not later as you might expect.

P.S. You can read about the passage of the bill here and here.

Fidler gives up his afternoon job

Posted November 30th, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane radio 612ABC afternoons host Richard Fidler has confirmed that he will give up the 1-3pm weekday program to concentrate on his networked 11am Conversations with Richard Fidler program.

Fider, who is on leave while being treated for burns to his hands sustained during a "cooking misadventure", returned to the show today to tell fill-in host Chris Welsh of the move, which was first reported here at

Fidler said the burden of doing two shows was becoming too great, but "I did it for as long as I could".

Sources have told me that current Drive host Kelly Higgins-Devine will move into the afternoon slot. 612 ABC's line-up for 2012, expected to be announced on Friday, will include at least two new voices, in Drive and the flagship Mornings program, which was vacated by Madonna King last month. Terri Begley, who has been filling in for King, is believed to be among a long list of announcers considered for the position.

I understand that several "names" from other media have put themselves forward for the Mornings job.

If player does not appear, the audio is here.

On air this afternoon, Fidler explained how his shirt caught fire while lighting a methylated spirits burner used to cook a Vietnamese dish. He used his hands to put out the flame, and they were badly burnt.

He said he was recovering quickly but would be required to wear compression clothing similar to cycling gear for about a year.

"I'm up and about and walking as you see, perfectly unencumbered," he told Welsh.

Fidler said he was thankful for the medical attention he had received, and was grateful that his children, who were in the room during the incident, were unharmed.

He also said he had gathered a lot of scientific insights from the experience of having skin grafts.

"Part of me is going 'ow' but part of me is going 'cool'."

Photo from

Sue Donnelly to head QTC

Posted November 28th, 2011 by debritz

The Queensland Theatre Company has announced the appointment of Sue Donnelly to the position of executive director.

Ms Donnelly, currently executive director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), will relocate from Sydney to take the reins at the QTC from February 20.

“Ms Donnelly brings to QTC strength in strategic planning and policy, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, hands-on management expertise, an exemplary track record in advocacy, high level producing experience, and a widespread arts network, nationally and internationally,” QTC chairman Professor Richard Fotheringham said today in a media statement.

“Her appointment to QTC consolidates the company’s position at the forefront of Australia’s performing arts – after the appointment of Wesley Enoch as artistic director in June last year and the unveiling of Season 2012 to much acclaim,” he said.

Prof Fotheringham said the international search for the position was prompted earlier this year when the incumbent, Libby Anstis, announced her resignation after eight years in the position.

“Under Libby’s stewardship, QTC’s national touring reputation was assured. We now have purpose-built new workshop facilities, and have significantly increased the number of young people and students attending.”

Ms Donnelly said: “Queensland holds a covetable position on the Australian arts landscape. There is an amazing amount of creativity, energy and talent.”

“I am delighted to be part of the highly regarded Queensland Theatre Company and look forward to creating extraordinary and stimulating theatre with the team at QTC and artistic director Wesley Enoch.”

Taking Central stage

Posted November 2nd, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane rail commuters will be familiar with the Central Station announcer Greg Toohey, whose voice sounds like that of former prime minister and current foreign minister Kevin Rudd. He also talks like a politician.

Today, as I arrived I heard his voice and quickly turned on my digital voice recorder. Here's what he said after explaining that the train on Platform 4 had terminated at Central and advising passengers not to board it:

FYI: Google defines ennui as "listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement".

PS: Here's a Channel 10 news report on Greg, and here's a Courier-Mail story about him.

Checking out the crystal ball

Posted November 1st, 2011 by debritz

Among the predicitons I made for Brisbane radio at the beginning of this year was this:

In the radio ratings, the top end and bottom end of the ladder will become more crowded, with a clear division emerging between the winners and the also-rans. In Brisbane, this could mean one or two commercial stations dipping well below the current minimum of 6-7 points. (This is not something I want to see, but I really think it will happen.)

The seventh (of eight) surveys released yesterday saw four stations crowed very closely together at the top. A statistically negligible 0.1 percentage point separated Nova 106.9 (on 11.8pc) at No.1 and Triple M and B105 at equal no.2, with 97.3FM just 0.3 points behind them. Meanwhile, 4BH's share sits at 5.2pc - up 0.2 points from the previous survey - but well below the 7.2pc it had this time last year and the 7.7pc it had the year before.

I also wrote:

The drive-time slot will become more competitive following the departure of Austereo's Hamish and Andy.

Sure enough, Nova 106.9's new drive show featuring the former Brisbane breakfast team of Meshel Laurie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold, on 15.9pc, has overtaken B105's networked Jules Lund and Fifi Box show (14.5pc). 97.3's homegrown show with Paul "Campo" Campion is also well in the race, on 12.5pc.

I didn't get (or haven't yet got) everything right but some other predictions that have proved correct are:

+ "Spencer Howson will continue his winning ways in breakfast on 612ABC."

+ "More job casualties, on air and behind the scenes, at Australian radio stations, with big names almost certainly among them." I also said there would an "early to mid-year departure of more than one announcer or team". I was right about the change, but my timing was a bit off - it happened to Ian Skippen and the the Cage crew at Triple M in September.

+ "2011 won't quite be the year of digital radio ... the existing analogue stations will continue to be the main game for a long time."

Change gives Triple M a boost

Posted October 31st, 2011 by debritz

Installing the new breakfast team of Greg "Marto" Martin, Michelle Anderson and Pete Timbs seems to have paid off in the ratings for Brisbane's Triple M. It's breakfast show, which saw a major line-up change in the past month to be reinvented as "The Grill Team", is now No.2 in the cornflakes slot, behind long-time leader Spencer Howson on 612 ABC.

However, the "rolling" nature of the survey means it also covers the period when Triple M's former Cage crew were on air, making it unclear whether the change has led to the ratings boost, or it was due to another factor - such as the station's coverage of the Rugby World Cup, which began before the line-up change. It may even be down to the amount of publicity the change attracted, bringing attention to the station and putting it back into the minds of the people filling in the survey books.

Nova 106.9's new team of Ash Bradnam, David "Luttsy" Lutteral and Camilla Severi, and 97.3FM's Robin Bailey, Bob Gallagher and Terry Hansen, were third and fourth in breakfast, with onetime leader B105 back in fifth spot. Only 3.1 percentage points now covers the entire commercial breakfast pack (with the exception of wooden-spooner 4BH) - and that means it's a very competitive field.

Triple M also came up trumps overall, when counted by share movement by session, Monday to Friday. But it was No. 2 to Nova 106.9 in share movement by demographic (people aged 10+, Monday to Sunday) . In the latter count, four percentage points covered the two leaders, 97.3FM and B105.

There were mixed blessings for Fairfax Media, which last week decided not to sell its metropolitan radio assets. Talk station 4BC dropped a little in breakfast but remained steady overall, while 4BH had a slight increase in its audience but remains well behind the rest of the commercial pack.

It wasn't a great survey for B105, which lost audience in the drive shift to Nova 106.9. The new national Nova drive team - formerly the Brisbane breakfast team of Meshel Laurie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold - registered an increase in Melbourne but lost audience in Sydney. Again, however, the line-up changes were too recent to be fully reflected in this survey.

The Australian Radio Network also had mixed results, with 97.3FM going slightly backwards, but 4KQ enjoying a boost to bring it even with 4BC in breakfast and overall (by demographic).

PS: The Australian is reporting that a decision on the future of struggling Melbourne talk station MTR "could come as early as tomorrow". In today's ratings, MTR had just 2.0pc of the total audience.

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.

Computer says No

Posted October 29th, 2011 by debritz

As online gamblers are probably already aware, the Queensland Golden Casket website is now a subsidiary site of, which also offers horse-racing and other sports betting.

While there are now more gaming opportunities than ever, something is missing. It's now no longer possible to buy a $2 Casket ticket online.

While you can still get an old-fashioned Casket ticket at a newsagency, this may well be the beginning of the end for this Queensland institution.

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.

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.

Madonna King's next move

Posted October 21st, 2011 by debritz

Madonna King, the host of 612ABC mornings program, has signed off from the Brisbane airwaves for the last time - and told her listeners what she'll be doing next.

King, who has hosted the show for six years, said she was restricted from saying too much on the ABC but she would be starting a "solo business" that revolves around emceeing and journalism.

She said rumours that she was retiring were "not exactly right". She said she would still be working full-time but "not in a way that means I have to get up every morning at 3.40".

She also said rumours that she was running as a candidate for a political party were wrong.

This morning's program included heartfelt tributes to King from across the political spectrum and the many charity and welfare groups she has supported, plus her listeners.

King acknowledged her ABC colleagues, including her producers over the past six years, her managers and Rebecca Levingston, who King said "could have any job in this building she wants".

Terri Begley will fill in as host of the 612 morning show, which covers Queensland state politics as well as family and lifestyle issues, until a permanent host is named.

Update: As foreshadowed on this blog here, Channel 9 has confirmed that King will be a part of its Brisbane royal visit coverage on Monday. And she has just launched a website,

Canine's got talent?

Posted October 20th, 2011 by debritz

Can your dog walk on stage, jump on a chaise lounge and be sung to? Melinda Schneider is holding auditions for a canine cast member for her show, Doris - So Much More than the Girl Next Door, which will play at Brisbane's Twelfth Night Theatre next month.

If your dog's got the chops to appear alongside somebody playing Doris Day, take it along an open audition on Tuesday, November 15, at 10:30am in the foyer of the theatre at 4 Cintra Rd, Bowen Hills.

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.

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.

A man for all seasons

Posted October 10th, 2011 by debritz

Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Wesley Enoch launched his first season with a bang yesterday - literally, by firing off a starting pistol. Enoch put his stamp on the occasion - a subscribers' launch at the QPAC Playhouse - from the outset, with a video ostensibly showing him running late for the event (although eagle-eyed attendees would have spotted in the foyer beforehand) before a grand entrance on stage.

First among the on-stage guests at the launch was Christen O'Leary, who has returned to live in Brisbane after carving out a successful stage career in Melbourne. O'Leary sang beautifully and spoke about her one-woman show, Bombshells, written by Joanna Murray Smith.

The season also includes the Belvoir Street revival of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll; Shakepeare's Romeo and Juliet, directed by Jennifer Flowers; an adaption of Dario Fo's Elizabeth, Almost By Chance a Woman, starring Carol Burns; Alana Valentine's Head Full of Love, starring Colette Mann and Roxanne McDonald; Matthew Ryan's Kelly, which focuses both on bushranger Ned and his brother Dan, who allegedly escaped to Queensland in the aftermath of the last stand at Glenrowan; and David Williamson's Managing Carmen, about a cross-dressing footballer.

QTC subscribers will get preferential booking opportunities for Stephen page's Blood Land and the Brisbane season of the stage version of British comedy Yes, Prime Minister. Details are here.

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.

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