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Camilla decamps from B105

Posted August 5th, 2011 by debritz

B105 Brisbane's breakfast trio is now, apparently, a duo. The two male members of the team, Labby and Stav, sent this Facebook missive:

Hey Guys, Camilla is no longer on the show as she has left to work at another station. We will miss her and wish her all the best. Meanwhile, the fun will continue with Labby & Stav for breakfast!

Camilla is, of course, Camilla Severi, the former Big Brother contestant who has been on B105 for the past four years, and her presence is being removed from the B105 website as I write this. The good news for aspiring female radio talent is there now a vacancy. Labby (Jason Hawkins) and Stav (Stewart Davidson) commented on Facebook that "we'll be looking at replacements [sic] soon".

Update: A source tells me that Camilla may be going to Nova 106.9 to replace Meshel Laurie, who is reportedly leaving at the end of the year. Also, I'm told one of the contenders for the B105 gig is Katie Clift, the daughter of Ian Calder, a former writer for B105's Morning Crew and now co-host with Jamie Dunn of the 98.9FM breakfast show.

Puccini for the passengers?

Posted July 17th, 2011 by debritz

This from The Courier-Mail Twitter feed:

Sadly, while the actual story mentions the possibility of free drinks, newspapers and wi-fi for commuters who pay more, it doesn't appear to mention opera.
PS: Of course public transport in Brisbane is already overpriced compared to many other "world class" cities, but that's a whinge for another day.

Farewell, Googie Withers

Posted July 16th, 2011 by debritz

Stage and screen actress Googie Withers has died at the age of 94. I fondly remember seeing Googie and her late husband John McCallum peforming as angels looking back on their distinguished and glamorous careers at QPAC in Brisbane a decade or more ago. I can't remember the name of the show, though. Can anybody help?

Radio rumour

Posted July 14th, 2011 by debritz

It's only July but the buzz at the ABC, coming from outside Queensland, is that 612 ABC in Brisbane will be looking for a new afternoons announcer next year. The rumour has it that Richard Fidler will continue to host the networked Conversations program but that another voice will be heard in the afternoon shift. If this is true, it will be the first change to the Brisbane metropolitan line-up in quite a few years. Stay tuned for more.
Update: When asked for a comment via Twitter (after PM host Mark Colvin had praised his efforts in holding down two jobs all this time), Fidler replied: "... can't... *gasp*... too busy... on-air right now..."

Close race in radio survey

Posted June 21st, 2011 by debritz

612 ABC's Spencer Howson remains Brisbane's favourite breakfast radio announcer, with 12.5pc of the audience cake, but B105's Labby, Camilla Severi and Stav Davidson (12.3pc) and 97.3's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher (12.0pc) are breathing down his neck.

The 97.3 trio put on 1.7 percentage points to make the top three in the cornflakes shift, outpacing Nova 106.9's Meshe Lauriel, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold (10.7pc), who put on 0.6 points but had to make do with fourth place.

At the other end of the commercial-radio ratings ladder, both 4BH's Michael Price and 4BC's Peter Dick and Mary Collier lost points, with BH scoring only a 4.9pc share (on par with Triple J and not too far ahead of traditionally low-rating Radio National). 4KQ's laurel Edwards, Gary Clare and put on audience share to draw a respectable 7.9pc. In the middle was Triple M, in fifth place overall on 9.1pc, down 0.8 points.

Overall, the order was Triple M, 97.3, Nova, Triple M, 612 ABC, 4BC, 4KQ and 4BH. The losses for BC and relative stagnation of BH will beof concern to the owner, Fairfax, which has the stations (along with its entire radio portfolio) on the block.

It was slightly better news for Fairfax in Sydney, where 2UE put on a few listeners but was still thrashed by 2GB, whose Alan Jones remains the king of breakfast. (Ray Hadley's continued strength in the morning shift also puts 2GB in a good place whenever Jones decides to retire.) 2Day's Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O were a distant No.3 in the breakfast shift (after 702 ABC's Adam Spencer), dropping 1.3 percentage points on the back of many rumours about Sandilands' future in radio and the relationship between the duo.

In Melbourne, 3AW remained No.1 overall and in breakfast, but suffered some drops in listenership. Newish talk station MTR had some small gains, as did Triple M's Eddie McGuire, although he remains well off the pace in the breakfast shift, which is dominated by AW's Ross Stevenson and John Burns and ABC 774's Red Symons.

Support the CEO Sleepout

Posted May 27th, 2011 by debritz

Brisbane Austereo (Triple M/ B105) boss Richard Barker is doing his bit for charity by taking part in the CEO Sleepout to aid the St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland. "Vinnies" supports 4000 Brisbane families a month, and is working hard to reduce the number of homeless people in the city, especially those who have to sleep rough. You can support their work by clicking here and donating to the cause.
Update: Brisbane coffee king Dean Merlo is also taking part; his donations page is here.
Update 2: My former boss, News Ltd CEO John Hartigan, is also raising funds here.

Tune in, drop out

Posted May 22nd, 2011 by debritz

Fairfax has confirmed it is getting out of the radio business, and is seeking a buyer for its Australian network, which includes 2UE, 3AW, 6PR and, in Brisbane, 4BC and 4BH. I've written quite a bit about this, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. Instead, I'll refer you to my thoughts here and here.

Now I'd like to address the delicate matter of money. Although Fairfax says it's confident of attracting several bidders, analysts predict the whole network of 15 stations may raise $250 million to $300 million. Fairfax paid $480 million less than four years ago. I don't know how much profit was made in that time, but it doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

And any potential buyer or buyers (if the assets are split up, which seems likely) would need to work hard on answering the question: Exactly what is a broadcasting licence worth these days? Free-to-air broadcast radio has certain advantages in terms of delivery, but it certainly doesn't have the game to itself any longer.

More and more people are choosing to listen-on-demand to podcasts on their computers or mobile devices rather than to scheduled services, and the radio stations are by no means the only ones pumping those out. Anybody with a half-decent PC can produce a broadcast-standard podcast - and it's clear to anybody who's taken the time to search that there are many "civilians" out there who have better program ideas than some of the professionals. (Ignorance of tried-and-tested formats, and freedom from highly paid consultants and their recycled branding concepts can be a very good thing.)

And while much is made of the success of the likes of Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands, the fact is that big stars are costly to maintain and their continued success - or their portability to other markets - is not guaranteed. (I've noted many times before that Eddie McGuire isn't setting the world on fire at Triple M in Melbourne, which is also where even some of the big names of Sydney's 2GB and the much-touted input of Andrew Bolt are falling flat at talk station MTR.)

Having said that, while I wouldn't be rushing in to be a buyer, there is a chance that somebody will grab a bargain or two in the great Fairfax fire sale. But they'll have to be smart enough to set a low price and stick to it, and to truly understand the changing radio scene to turn a decent dollar. It's a very different market now to when most of the existing players (on air and off) got started, and copying stale formats with recycled celebs and other usual suspects just won't cut it. It'll take smarts, courage and a lot of passion to survive and thrive. More on that later.

A big win for B105

Posted May 10th, 2011 by debritz

B105 has emerged as the clear winner in the Brisbane radio ratings. In the third (second for the Queensland capital) official Nielsen survey for 2011, the Austereo station had a 12.8pc overall share (people 10+), well ahead of Nova 106.9 on 11.3pc, 97.3FM on 11.0 and Triple M on 10.4. 612ABC slipped back from 11.3pc last survey to 9.7, ahead of 4BC (8.8pc, a .03 increase on survey 2), 4BH (6.1, down from 6.3) and 4KQ (5.8 from 5.9).

In the all-important breakfast battle, 612's Spencer Howson still leads the way, although his share dropped from 14.7 to 12.9pc. B105's Labby (Jason Hawkins), Camilla Severi and Stav Davidson came in a solid second (12.2, up from 11.3), followed by 97.3's Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallagher (10.3 up from 9.1). Former session leader Nova dropped from 11.0pc to 10.1 with its Meshel Laurie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold show, Triple M's The Cage with Ian Skippen, scored 9.9 (previously 10.7), and 4BC's breakfast team of Peter Dick and Mary Collier dropped marginally from 8.5 to 8.4, follwed by 4KQ's Laurel Edwards, Gary Clare and Mark Hine, who held steady on 6.6pc, and 4BH's Michael Price (5.9pc, down from 6.4) who was even with Triple J's Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson.

In Sydney, 2GB and its breakfast host Alan Jones continued their dominance, ahead of ABC702 and 2Day, while Melbourne's 3AW was No. 1 overall (on 16.3pc) and its cornflakes hosts, John Burns and Ross Stevenson, continued to attract more than 20pc of listeners. ABC774 was second, followed closely by Fox FM. At the other end of the scale, the much-hyped and well-paid Eddie McGuire hung on to a share of just 5.9pc for Triple M, which had a similar figure overall, and underperforming talk station MTR had just 1.8pc of audience share overall and 2.2 in breakfast).

DMG's struggling Classic Rock managed gains in Melbourne, to a 4pc share, but remained ordinarily steady on 2.6 in Sydney.

Ratings race proceeds apace

Posted May 8th, 2011 by debritz

All eyes in the broadcasting industry will be on the results of the third (second for Brisbane) Australian major cities radio ratings survey on Tuesday. This one promises to be interesting for several reasons:

1) It could help set the price for the Fairfax Radio stations, which are widely believed to be on the block. Fairfax's decision to slash sub-editing jobs at its newspapers in favour of outsourcing last week may be unpopular in journalism circles, but it shows new CEO Greg Hywood is serious about reorganising the business. The stations, including 4BC and 4BH in Brisbane, 2UE in Sydney and the high-rating 3AW in Melbourne, could be sold as a package or the network could be split up. (I've speculated about the options here.) Chances are, they will sell for less than Fairfax paid for them, but how much they fetch will depend on how well the stations are performing. 4BC did well last survey; 4BH not so well. However, the impact of the floods and cyclone earlier this year were still being felt, perhaps artificially inflating the figures for news-talk stations. If 4BC did benefit from a blip, the question will be: did it hold on to the audience?

2) B105 claimed the crown in terms of audience share but Nova 106.9, Triple M and 97.3FM were all well within striking distance of the prized No.1 slot. While the stations' managers will all say cumes (cumulative audiences) and demographics are more important, they do care who wins overall, and so do many advertisers who want to place their commercials on the leading station.

3) Again, probably thanks to the natural disasters, 612ABC had a strong survey overall and breakfast announcer Spencer Howson (yes, he's a friend of mine, and I used to be a regular on his show) did exceptionally well to lead by a wide margin in the most important shift of the day. Which way will Aunty's ratings go, and to what lengths will the commercial stations go to claim that that's not at all significant (when, of course, every person who's listening to the ABC is not listening to a commercial station, and therefore isn't exposed to the advertising that keeps these networks afloat).

May 9 update: 4) With Austereo also undergoing a change in ownership, the results may have some bearing on the extent of cost-cutting at the Brisbane stations. Both DMG (which is currently looking for a new program director for Brisbane's Nova 106.9) and ARN have already slashed their budgets. The radio business is resilient, but it is tightening its belt.
Roll on, Tuesday.

Brisbane stations to be left out in the cold?

Posted April 18th, 2011 by debritz

In his column in The Australian, Mark Day suggests that John Singleton is on the verge of buying radio assets from Fairfax. Day says Singo wants 3AW, which is blitzing his part-owned MTR in Melbourne, and 2UE, which competes with his top-rating 2GB in Sydney. But apparently he's not interested in the rest of the Fairfax Radio network, which includes 4BH and 4BC in Brisbane. If Day is on the money (and he often is), then will Fairfax hang on to the Brisbane stations, or will it find another buyer? Day doesn't speculate on this, but I will. If the stations are to be sold, who are the potential buyers? All of the existing players in the market have the maximum two stations -- except DMG (Nova 106.9) and ARN (4KQ), which share ownership 97.3FM, and could theoretically buy one of the stations between them. So,who from outside the tightly knit group of radio station owners would be interested? Perhaps Bill Caralis, who has mainly regional radio assets and has recently brought John Laws back to the Sydney and rural airwaves. If so, BH and BC would very quickly become cut-price operations, as Caralis's "Super Network" is not regarded as a big spender. While radio is by no means a sunset industry, it is undergoing a lot of changes, and anybody who takes on the stations would have to have a very clear strategy for them.
Meanwhile, there's news from former 4BC drive announcer Michael Smith. According to this Daily Telegraph report, one of Smith's producers Elizabeth Pearson, considered a rising star in the industry, has quit. The Tele reports that Smith's "chaotic approach to the program ... and blue-language sprays during meetings for his weekday noon to 3pm show left Pearson unimpressed".
Update: Jocks' Journal is reporting that Clive Palmer is said to be "putting out feelers" regarding the purchase of regional Queensland's Smart radio network. Might he be a buyer for 4BC and 4BH. Palmer is an outspoken personality, and it may be that the idea of owning a talk radio station such as BC appeals to him. (April 18, 5.10pm)

Brisbane radio: What next?

Posted March 30th, 2011 by debritz

So, what to make of the latest radio ratings? Although, as I cautioned even before the second (first for Brisbane) survey results were released, it's hard to know exactly how much weight to give to them, I'm going to have a stab anyway. My main reservations are: a) As always, the survey is flawed (and I'm not going to go into the reasons why for the umpteenth time); and b) that's even more the case this time around for Brisbane, where the survey period was shorter and it reflected broadcasting in the wash-up of the floods, cyclone and -- especially significant in the case of Triple M, which organised a fundraising rugby match that deservedly earnt some ratings brownie points for The Cage breakfast show -- the New Zealand earthquake. The obvious conclusion from the survey is that news-talk stations got a boost at the expense of the music stations apparently because of listeners' desire/need for disaster-relted information. But this creates a dilemma for station managers, particularly the powers that be at commercial talk station 4BC. They're looking for vindication that the decision to ditch breakfast hosts Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder in favour of Peter Dick and Mary Collier was a programming masterstroke. While BC's figures went up, it's not clear if that's because of the disasters, the line-up change, seasonal factors or a combination of all three. The next few surveys will tell if they just got a blip from the floods and cyclone, or from audience sampling of the new talent, and whether they have made, and will continue to make, real gains. One possible scenario is that Dick and Collier will poach some of Spencer Howson's currently inflated audience, given that the ABC is often the recipient of higher listening figures when there's a busy news cycle. Howson's numbers went through the roof in this survey, and it's likely there'll be at least a minor "correction" in coming surveys. Whether those listeners will go to 4BC, or to music stations, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, B105 will be blaming Mother Nature for the slight setback that put its No.1-among-the-commercials crown in jeopardy. It was a close call, with not just arch-rival Nova 106.9 but 97.3FM and even sister station Triple M in striking distance for No.1 status next time. The closeness of the four FM stations, which should have all been equally disadvantaged by the "flood factor" must be causing some discomfort at Austereo HQ (especially with the imminent change in ownership). The real pain, however, must be being felt at 4KQ, which fell to the bottom of the heap among the commercial stations and was leap-frogged by oldies rival 4BH (which also lost some audience overall). Owner ARN has shown some impatience with underperformers interstate in recent years but Brisbane's commercial wooden spooners are still doing much better than the also-rans in other markets, so they'll probably take a wait-and-see approach. The next challenge for the music stations is that the current political turmoil in Queensland may also drive listeners to the ABC and 4BC. If Premier Anna Bligh calls a snap election to square off against challenger Campbell Newman, the talk stations will continue to get a boost, but if the "will-she, won't-she" situation just drags on and on, people will get sick of it all and the music stations will be back in business.

Wightman back on air

Posted March 5th, 2011 by debritz

Kip Wightman, formerly of Nova 106.9's breakfast show, has announced on Facebook that he'll be hosting the afternoon shift - midday to 3pm - on 97.3FM in Brisbane from Tuesday. Wightman has spent the best part of two years wandering the world, including time in Thailand and Boston in the US.
Fun fact: Kip's real first name is Christopher, but when he was a child his little sister couldn't say "Chris" and dubbed him "Kip". It stuck.
PS: Here's a video of him I prepared (much) earlier:

No show without ...

Posted March 2nd, 2011 by debritz

I received this picture from B105 in Brisbane of breakfast hosts Labby and Stav with a cake to celebrate the station's 21st birthday. My invitation to the party must have been lost in cyberspace. More importantly, my inquiries as to why original B105 Morning Crew stars Jamie Dunn and Donna Lynch were apparently not invited to cut the cake was met with bemusement. At least I hope Ian Skippen -- another B105 original who celebrated his own birthday over the weekend -- was invited around from sister station Triple M to share a slice of the cake that he, Dunn and Lynch helped make so big.

My Oz TV predictions

Posted January 22nd, 2011 by debritz

Due to popular demand, here are my predictions for Australian TV in general, and the Brisbane scene in particular.
1. Audiences for the additional digital stations will grow slightly, but will level out during the year.
2. This will be the last year for Neighbours. Even if it is a modest success on 11, the new board will decide it has run its race (especially as it no longer commands a huge audience in the UK).
3. Ten's ambitious news strategy will be scaled back, if not abandoned altogether, before the end of the year.
4. The Nine network will continue its recent ratings gains.
5. There will be senior management changes at Seven and Ten.
6. In Brisbane, Nine news will make gains on Seven.
7. Sunrise will continue to lead Today, although the gap will narrow, and there could be line-up changes at Seven before the end of the year.
8. We will see more "blanket" coverage of major events on the main channels, with scheduled programs shifted at a moment's notice to the second and third stations.
9. Sky's experiment with Fox News-style shockjockery will be a success and may spawn imitations on network television. (Was Alan Jones Tonight ahead of its time?)
10. More, but different, reality shows coming our way, plus quite a few drama, reality and comedy/variety flops that will be pulled off air very quickly.

Be careful what you tweet

Posted December 20th, 2010 by debritz

Are the gloves off in the battle for Brisbane's breakfast radio listeners? One Brisbane radio station's Twitter account was used by person or persons unknown* to tweet that a new show on another station "is car crash waiting to happen". It continued:

"Too much ego not enough talent another nail in the coffin. You really do suck [name of station]"

The tweet has since been deleted -- but not before others rewteeted it.
* Update: Although I originally chose not to name either station or the people involved, The Courier-Mail has identified the tweeter as Family Radio 96.5's Liam Renton from The Family Show, who told the paper he wrote the item about 4BC's new breakfast team because they made "derogatory" comments about 612ABC's Spencer Howson on a Mediaweek podcast. He said it wasn't meant to offend anyone, and offered an apology if it did. Unfortunately, as the following snapshot shows, the C-M misidentified 96.5 as 95.5.

The radio numbers game

Posted December 14th, 2010 by debritz

"You're kidding, aren't you?" That's the response I got a few years ago when I pointed out to the publicist at a commercial radio station that they had not, as claimed in a press release, won the breakfast ratings, 612ABC's Spencer Howson had. "The ABC doesn't count." Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but it does count. While ABC radio doesn't compete for advertising dollars, the fact that it drags so many people away from commercial radio does have an impact on their bottom lines. Imagine if ABC television rated as highly; the commercial stations would be campaigning for the government to nobble it (as they are in the UK, where the BBC regularly trounces ITV and is a thorn in the side of satellite broadcaster BSkyB). Of course, the radio ratings survey itself is designed to not give an accurate snapshot of what people are listening to -- otherwise all the community stations would be included by name in the diaries distributed during surveys. In Brisbane, I can't believe that the 96.5 Family FM audience is negligible, as the "other FM" figures would have us believe. As I've said before, if I was a commercial radio executive, I'd want to know exactly what people are listening to and why. If I knew more about, say 4EB or Bay FM or Logan 101 (not to mention the commercial station in Ipswich, River 949, which is widely heard in Brisbane), I'd be in a better position to steal some of their audience. In the Brisbane market of course, every little percentage point, or part thereof, can count for a lot. So if the commercial station program directors (or content directors as many of them are now called) aren't taking the ABC into account -- and that applies especially to talk stations who are getting beaten by ABC Local Radio stations -- let alone the better-performing community and non-metro commercial stations, then they aren't doing their jobs properly.

And the winners were ...

Posted December 14th, 2010 by debritz

B105 retained its overall lead, but Nova 106.9 is breathing down its neck; recently resurgent 97.3FM slipped back a little, and 612 ABC's Spencer Howson won the breakfast race. In other Brisbane radio ratings results, 4BC held steady in breakfast despite losing announcers Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder mid-survey, but slipped overall - giving it the wooden spoon* in a fairly tight field of commercial players and putting it behind sister station 4BH (suggesting the wholesale changes in next year's schedule are a good idea). In the breakfast battle, Nova's Meshel, Tim and Marty overtook B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav and claimed second place, with 97.3's Robin, Terry and Bob in fourth and Triple M's The Cage fifth. The biggest overall gains were made by 4KQ, which added 1.6 points, and is now only third from the bottom of the field of commercial contenders. One of the biggest surprises was that the last farewell for Hamish and Andy didn't score them a record rating at Brisbane - but with 18.6pc of the audience, it was still the most popular show in the market by percentage share of available audience (with Steve Austin's evenng show on 612ABC in second place). The order overall (all people 10+) was B105, Nova, 97.3, 612ABC, Triple M (down from its glory days), KQ, BH and BC. In Melbourne, the much-touted Eddie McGuire took Triple M backwards from 7.1 to 5.8 in breakfast. A blip or signs that he's not the messiah?
* On the share movement by demographic figures. BH and BC swap places on the by-session figures.
Update: I neglected to mention Triple J, which is level pegging with 4BC on 7.0pc overall. Of course, its audience is coming from a different place, and presumably at the expense of Nova and B105. All done without bus-shelter and billboard advertising.
Correction: I orignally noted here that 4BC's Michael Smith, who has just become part of the line-up intended to revitalise 2UE in Sydney, had the lowest daytime rating on 4BC. Michael tells me, and I am glad to accept it as true, that he, in fact, has the second-highest daytime ratings on 4BC, and had the highest in the previous ratings. My mis-reading occured because the start and finish of his shift do not align with those in the official survey resuts. In any case, I wish him good luck in Sydney.

More change at 4BC

Posted December 14th, 2010 by debritz

The latest word from Brisbane's Radio 4BC, which has just announced major line-up changes for 2011, is that news director and program director Chris Adams has quit to write a book. Adams has recently been on holidays and his name was not attached to the 4BC media release announcing line-up changes for 2011. I hear Tanya Grimwald is to move from assistant PD to PD while former Coast FM announcer Scott Mayman will lead the newsroom.

4BC and 4BH announce 2011 line-ups

Posted December 8th, 2010 by debritz

Update: A 4BC media release confirms these changes
Sources tell me that Brisbane radio 4BC has made an internal announcement today regarding its 2011 line-up, with Peter Dick and Mary Collier confirmed as breakfast hosts, Gary Hardgrave to replace Michael Smith in drive and Loretta Ryan and Moyd Kay to move from breakfast on sister station 4BH to afternoons on 4BC. Former Triple M producer/announcer Michael Price has been named as a possible new voice at 4BH. Are these the changes BC and BH need? As I've said before, I wish them well.
Update: The media release quotes general manager David McDonald as saying: “We are excited about the new 4BC line up and confident about its success as it faces the challenges of 2011 in an ever changing media environment. The market has indicated the need for change so we are confident the balanced team of ‘familiar and new’ faces that we have assembled will provide a great mix of information, entertainment and news.” Another release quotes Price, who previously worked at 4BH at the age of 25, as saying: “I love the variety in the music we’ve always played on 4BH 882 and I’m looking forward to injecting some fun in the morning, sharing the real useful info and on-time local news and ensuring we continue to put on a show that’s safe for anyone in the family to listen to." Program director Geoff Harrison says: “I’ve known Pricey for a good 17 years. He’s more then a radio man that still loves the magic of it, in his heart he’s a 4BH man. His life has been full of more of the good then bad experiences, but he’s had both and he’ll bring that and his current life as a husband and father of two pre-school aged children to Breakfast. He’s real and will be an instant friend-maker each morning."

Spencer gets the call

Posted December 2nd, 2010 by debritz

A minute after he went off air this morning, 612ABC's Spencer Howson received a phone call from 4BC asking whether he had had an offer to join the commercial station. The caller, an on-ar announcer, asked Howson, Brisbane's no. 1 breakfast announcer, "Are you coming? Are you talking [to station management]?" To that point, it was the only call Howson has had from the commercial station, which he and his 612 colleagues have been consistently thrashing in the ratings for the past few years. Of course, the person who phoned was in no position to make Howson an offer, and it seems that staff (even those with perceived influence) at 4BC are just as much in the dark as everybody else about what the station's final 2011 line-up will be.
PS: Meanwhile, I have deleted a comment from a previous item in this blog that made quite seriously allegations about 4BC which I cannot confirm at this time. I did so because I take blogging seriously and, despite what some people may think, this is not a forum for letting loose at a particular station or at certain people -- especially when it is done so anonymously. This blog is a source of news, gossip and the exchange of information on a number of topics, including radio. As I have said on many occasions, I love the medium and I want to see all stations, especially those in my home town of Brisbane, thrive. At the moment, I'm especially keen to see 4BC reach its full potential, and I am puzzled why commercial talk radio is not succeeding as well in Brisbane as it is interstate. I have many friends who now work, or have previously worked, at BC and its sister station 4BH, and I wish everybody there well.

Carousel is still spinning

Posted December 1st, 2010 by debritz

4BC isn't the only Brisbane radio station in flux (see my previous item). Some more line-up changes are likely elsewhere on the dial. You might be surprised who could be on the move.
PS: Paul Murray has confirmed on Twitter that he'll be doing drive on 2UE. Will it be networked or partially networked? Also, UE lineup leans very much to the right; is there room with GB in the same space? Is it a gift to the ABC?

Opportunity knocks twice at 4BC

Posted December 1st, 2010 by debritz

The announcement that Michael "Smithy" Smith will move to Sydney's 2UE next year creates a great opportunity for Brisbane radio station 4BC, with both the breakfast and drive shifts now vacant. But it's an opportunity that can't be squandered, because the wrong choice could backfire badly and have longterm ramifications (rebuilding would take at least two years). I've canvassed all sorts of breakfast options on this blog -- and I've suggested that Paul Murray, the 32-year-old wunderkind signed by Fairfax Radio from Triple M, might be networked (he already has a national profile thanks to a gig on Sky News) -- but what about the drive shift? Well, I reckon it should be considerably lightened off. Folks don't want to be brow-beaten at the end of a long working day. Of course, I'd be looking for someone with some smarts, so they can tackle political issues and breaking news of the day, but also somebodby with a light touch. I can think of a few candidates who are already working for other stations, but if 4BC managers are seeking real change maybe they should really think outside the box and go for somebody not currently in a full-time radio gig*. Whatever happens, I expect there'll be a lot of experimentation over the next few weeks -- although they really should aim to have the 2011 team in place well before the next ratings year begins.
* And, yes, I am available.
Update: The word doing the rounds is that Mary Collier is firming as breakfast co-host on 4BC next year. Meanwhile, it's been announced that Jason Morrison has been poached from 2GB to do breakfast on 2UE next year. Morrison has successfully covered for Alan Jones and, presumably, will win over some of the radio king's audience.

Let's get political

Posted November 30th, 2010 by debritz

I've been thinking about the Victorian election result and its ramifications for other upcoming polls. It seems to me that people can't see the difference between the major parties any more and are just voting for change, for candidates they like or for issues that affect them personally. Getting on my own soapbox, I can see this with the Save the Regent issue in Brisbane. The Nationals and Liberals used to be the parties in Queensland that got into bed with big business and bulldozed whatever lay in the path of unhindered development and "progress", damn the impact on the environment and the state's heritage (oh, and thanks very much for that juicy donation). Even overwhelming public opposition to their decisions was arrogantly ignored. Now Labor is just as bad. It's the same across a range of issues, including privatisation and industrial relations. The Labor Party that my father and both grandfathers supported simply does not exist any more, so there is no clear line in the sand. The Labor brand is seen as being just the same as the competitors' product, so the consumers see no need to have any loyalty and will change their purchase (i.e. vote) on a whim -- especially if they've been buying the same old thing for a long time and they're no longer happy with the way it works. The message from interstate is that the opposition doesn't even have to be too flash to get elected. If Anna Bligh and co. aren't prepared to stand up for matters of principle -- including the issues some Young Labor members of my generation, some of whom are now members of the state government, marched in the streets for -- then they will be voted out at the next election. And it will serve them right. The big question, of course, is: will the current two-party system survive or will a third option -- one that's run by sensible people with real policies and some intellectual heft, not Hanson or Palin clones -- emerge and prosper on the promise and delivery of real change? The answer, at least in the short term, is: probably not, because retaining the status quo is one of the many things Labor and the opposition have in common. In the meantime, we will see occasional successes by independents, minor parties and special interest groups -- enough of them, I hope, for the major parties to realise that when many thousands of people rally around a cause, they deserve respect and attention.

Power and the passion

Posted November 25th, 2010 by debritz

I've been having some Twitter conversations about radio today; some general, some specific about the situation at Brisbane's 4BC, where they are trialling different breakfast combinations after the departure of Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder. Whether it be 4BC or any other station, the breakfast show, more than any other shift (partly because of sacrifices required to work the ridiculous hours), requires passion. The person behind the microphone has to want it badly, do it well and live the job. Earlier this year, I was interviewed by City News about the success of my friend Spencer Howson at 612ABC and I noted that he's always "on". Those who follow him on Twitter will know what I mean. The man is a dynamo, who is always thinking about his breakfast show all through the day and well into the night, and that's reflected in his ratings -- he's been no.1 in breakfast for most of this year. Of course, you need to have talent, but to do radio really well, you also have to have unlimited enthusiasm for the job. I'd suggest that's why Hamish Blake and Andy Lee (pictured) are cutting back their drivetime show on the Austereo network to just Fridays. They want to do more TV shows, and they want to make it in the UK (where they have a weekly radio spot) and the US, so they walked away from what would have to be the biggest pay packets in commercial FM radio to achieve their new passion. John Laws doesn't need to work again, but he's coming back on air to 2SM and a network of country stations next year because he wants to (motivated, I'd suspect, by the desire to prove he's still got it). He probably won't set the Sydney market on fire, but they'll love him in the bush and that'll probably generate enough income to keep him going for as long as he likes. The message is: whether you're just starting out or you're 75 years old, if you don't have the hunger, you won't succeed, even with talent to spare.
PS: I wonder what the odds of Paul Murray being networked by Faifax Radio next year? Pretty good, I'd reckon.

Too many Dicks

Posted November 25th, 2010 by debritz

Peter Dick has been in radio for more than 30 years, but the 4BC website still can't get his name right:

PS: Perhaps "dick dick" is the sound of the clock ...

Battle of the bands

Posted November 25th, 2010 by debritz

A chart battle is about to begin in Brisbane, with radio personalities from across the spectrum involved in different charity musical projects. The Brisbane All-Stars' version of Do They Know It's Christmas will be competing with B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav, plus Alfie Langer and the Faith Lutheran College Choir with the modestly titled Brisbane’s Number One Hit Single. Both will be benefitting charity - the former a musicians' fund and the latter the long-running B105 Children's Hospital Christmas appeal - so, for once, there will be no losers.

Do they know it's Christmas?

Posted November 19th, 2010 by debritz

Brisbane radio announcers Kelly Higgins-Devine, from 612ABC, and Loretta Ryan, from 4BH, were caught on video recording their part for the Brisbane All-Stars upcoming charity single:

The single will be released in the first week of December, with proceeds going to Support Act, Australia's music industry benevolent fund.

B105's big challenge

Posted November 5th, 2010 by debritz

B105, the longtime market leader that lost its way and then became the "comeback kid" of Brisbane radio, narrowly escaped losing its re-won no.1 overall crown in last week's penultimate radio survey for 2010. But there must be a lot of nervousness at B105 when they consider that it was the huge audience for Hamish and Andy's drive time show that helped get them over the line. With H&A leaving five-days-a-week radio next year, their numbers are up for grabs, and 97.3FM may only have to keep an even keel to emerge the winner next year. With its female-friendly format, the station already has an edge in pitching to potential advertisers. It's just a shame that station boss Peter Verhoeven, who nurtured 97.3FM from the go-get (with some mis-steps and some inspired decisions along the way), won't be there to enjoy future spoils of success.
PS: According to Spencer Howson tweet, News Radio's Steve Palmer is also calling it quits, with a change of career. He's a good bloke, and I wish him well.

Shock and awe

Posted November 5th, 2010 by debritz

Brisbane radio folk are in shock today at news of the sacking of local Australian Radio Network general manager Peter Verhoeven, along with other group GMs interstate. Jocks' Journal has a report on it here. It comes in the same week that Verhoeven's baby, 97.3FM, finally cracked the no.1 spot in Brisbane, in a dead-heat with B105. Even 4KQ, which is at the bottom of the Brisbane ratings ladder, is performing much better than some interstate ARN stations (particularly Mix 106.5 in Sydney). It's a shame that ARN senior management believes that radio, which is a very local medium, would be best managed centrally from down south. Of course, Verhoeven's departure -- which follows the axing of Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder, and a raft of other changes (not all yet played out) at 4BC -- shows that nobody is safe from the "don't come Monday". Other radio folk, especially those without contracts for next year, would be justifiably concerned.
PS: Farewell to Brisbane-based ABC Grandstand announcer Gerry Collins, who is retiring at the end of this year. He's one of the truly great sport broadcasters, and I hope he has a long and fruitful retirement.
PPS: The latest rumour from 4BC is that Peter Dick, who will be teaming up for the breakfast shift with Victoria Carthew from Monday, has only committed to five weeks in the hot seat. There is also some talk about a move of some kind for Michael Smith.

B105 and 97.3 share the glory

Posted November 1st, 2010 by debritz

B105 leads the Brisbane commercial radio market again, both overall and in the important breakfast shift - although they shared the10+ audience top spot with 97.3FM, which has gone gangbusters this year. The standout performers in survey 7, the second last for 2010, were Hamish and Andy, whose networked show (which is ending this year) scooped 20.8pc of the available audience in Brisbane (although that's a drop on last survey's result, theirs is by far the most popular show on radio). 612ABC's Spencer Howson was again the winner in breakfast on 13.4pc (down from a huge 15.3pc last survey), beating B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav, 97.3FM's Robin, Terry and Bob, Nova's Meshel. Tim and Marty and Triple M's The Cage. 4BC's now-departed Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder were next in breakfast (7.5pc, down 0.3), followed by 4KQ's Laurel, Gary and Mark, and 4BH's Moyd and Loretta. BH was also last overall in the commercial stations, in a field led by B105 and 97.3, followed by Nova 106.9, 612ABC and Triple M. In the evening slot, 612ABC's Steve Austin is powering away with 16.5pc of the audience, well ahead of the music stations and almost doubling 4BC's nightime figure of 8.8pc. Farifax Radio has some problems, with both 4BH (which added 1.5pc this survey) and 4BC still in single figures, and ARN haslost ground with 4KQ, which has taken the overall wooden spoon among the commercial stations (although its half-owned 97.3 is doing very well). At least the Brisbane station tail-enders look good compared to the bottom-rung players donw south.
Meanwhile, in Sydney, 2GB and 2Day continue to share the glory, but Mix 106.5, which sacked its breakfast presenters after the survey 6 result, continues its decline in the cornflakes shift with a paltry 2.3pc share -- at the very bottom of the table, behind even the low-rating ABC Classic FM. In Melbourne, 3AW continues to show how talk radio should be done, while new competitor MTR barely rates at all with a patehtic 1.1pc overall and in breakfast.

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