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Not so fast

Posted March 26th, 2010 by debritz

Radio can make or break reputations in seconds, but broadcasters are not so quick to respond when it comes to corrections and apologies. For example, here's a letter from Nova 106.9 general manager Sean Ryan, dated March 16, 2010 and published in the most recent Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland newsletter:

On 3rd November 2009 a number of comments were broadcast on Nova 106.9 involving transgender people, which some members of ATSAQ may have found offensive. Nova 106.9 and Ben Te’o regret this and apologise for any offence caused.

How come it took four and half months for them to decide they were sorry?

Meanwhile, at the theatre

Posted March 25th, 2010 by debritz

I saw Wild World, the Cat Stevens tribute at the Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane, and can recommend it thoroughly. While not impersonating Stevens (now, of course, known as Yusaf Islam), British singer-guitarist Paul Dillon performs the great songwriter's catalouge and links the music with some interesting facts and anecdotes. It closes on Saturday. And his backup band is brilliant. Meanwhile, on the local theatre front, April 10 will be opening night at the Arts Theatre of The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, the sequel to He Died with a Felafel in his Hand, written by Simon Bedak and based on the book by Brisbane's own John Birmingham. The show will be directed by Natalie Bochenski, who works as a journalist at 4BC and successfully moonlights in the worlds of theatre and improvisational comedy. Here's a teaser video for the show:

New C-M editor speaks

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by debritz

Michael Crutcher, the new editor of Brisbane's The Courier-Mail, spoke to Spencer Howson on 612ABC. Spencer asked him about plans for the paper and the website. You can listen here.

It's Valleywood

Posted March 22nd, 2010 by debritz

The Step Inn pub in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley is in the spotlight, literally, as filming begins on ... well, I don't know what. Does anybody know?
Update: a Twitter contact says it's definitely a movie, perhaps titled A Heartbeat. It's about a rock band and stars "some actors from Home and Away and someone from Transformers 2". An IMDB search suggests it's A Heartbeat Away, starring Isabel Lucas , Tammy McIntosh, Colin Friels and William Zappa, and directed by Gale Edwards. A Queensland Government media release calls it a "feel-good musical comedy" (and where better to make one of theose than in the Valley?) and apparently taxpayers have contributed $3 million through Screen Queensland. (March 23-24)

The Spencer and Meshel show?

Posted March 21st, 2010 by debritz

Further to my previous item, is this evidence of a new team-up in Brisbane radio? Do they gel well?

Or maybe it will be Labby, Camilla, Stav and Spencer on B105:

Or perhaps Spencer, Loretta and Moyd on 4BH:

New guy on Nova

Posted March 21st, 2010 by debritz

The Nova 106.9 breakfast team now officially down to a duo - Meshel Laurie and Tim Blackwell - after the departure of Ash Bradnam was made official a fortnight ago. In the past week, however, it seems they've been trialling a new recruit. Step forward Spencer Howson, the top-rating 612ABC breakfast show host who was heard not once but twice on Nova in the past seven days. Howson, pictured with 4BC's Peter Dick (who was also a top-rating ABC breakfast announcer before going to commercial radio), has become something of an expert on the Clem7 tunnel and was happy to oblige when the Nova team rang him and asked for a live cross while his own station was broadcasting the news. While he's by no means old, Howson might be just a bit too far outside Nova's youth-oriented demographic to score a fulltime gig at 106.9, though.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on the Spencer Howson breakfast show on Fridays at 6.50am, and was heard last week on Peter Dick's afternoon show, spruiking the Save the Regent cause.

Changes at The Courier-Mail

Posted March 19th, 2010 by debritz

The editor of The Courier-Mail, David Fagan, has become editor in chief of the Courier and Sunday Mail; Michael Crutcher has become editor of the Courier and Scott Thompson will be Sunday Mail editor. Sunday Mail editor Liz Deegan will fill an unspecified new senior role at News Ltd. The changes were announced by CEO John Hartigan in a staff memo hailing a "new era" at the papers. In the memo, Hartigan said:

“Our Queensland titles are poised to enter a new period of growth through the development of paid content and truly integrated multi-platform publishing that will result in the full convergence of our print and digital publishing operations and greater collaboration and cooperation between The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail.
“While the Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail will very clearly remain individual mastheads in their own right, this new editorial structure will allow us to develop coordinated strategies for the growth of print, online and other digital applications seven days a week in a way that allows each title to contribute to the success of the other.
“I am delighted that David Fagan, Michael Crutcher and Scott Thompson have agreed to their new roles.
“I am also looking forward to Liz Deegan taking on a new role for the group. Liz has transformed The Sunday Mail in her three and a half years as editor and the newspaper is now significantly better positioned for growth as a result of the wide range of improvements she brought to the paper.
“Liz is one of our finest journalists. She has been an outstanding investigative reporter and one of the best European correspondents the company has had."

The changes follow the establishment last year of the News Central sub-editing operation, circulation losses for the print editions - the Sunday Mail has lost 100,000 sales in the past five years - and the recent announcement by News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch that his papers will begin charging for online content.

On the air

Posted March 19th, 2010 by debritz

In my spot on 612ABC, Spencer Howson and I spoke about the fate of Brisbane's Regent Theatre - and why the Brisbane Film Festival is using a picture of the Showcase Theatre to promote itself, when that beautiful venue is scheduled for closure in June and demolition soon after - plus my accidental challenge to be the last person to travel for free on the Clem7 tunnel and why the "reply all" function on email should ask you whether you really want to send your message to everybody. The audio is here.

Newman in the thick of it

Posted March 16th, 2010 by debritz

Congratulations to the Courier-Mail for exposing the demands made by Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's spin doctors in return for an exclusive story on the Clem 7 tunnel. For any politician to suggest that a newspaper give a certain prominence to a story, to demand copy approval and to expect that no balancing comments from the opposition would be sought is pure arrogance. And it's further proof of my assertion that local government has become far too politicised. When I spoke to Spencer Howson on 612ABC about the possibility of an independent running for Lord Mayor of Brisbane, I mentioned that the current regime was starting to resemble scenes from the British television sature The Thick of It. Well, Campbell Newman's spin team has apparently done its central character, Malcolm Tucker, proud.
PS: I wonder how much the ratepayers of Brisbane are paying for this kind of PR nonsense?
Update: Campbell Newman cancelled an interview with 4BC's Michael Smith at the last minute on Tuesday afternoon.

Regent makes headlines

Posted March 13th, 2010 by debritz

Don't bother waiting for Godot; he's not coming. The Regent Theatre is back in the news today, with the Courier-Mail's Tonya Turner revealing that an acclaimed production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot starring Sir Ian McKellen won't be coming to Brisbane due to the lack of a suitable venue. The story quotes me saying that the Regent could be restored into a theatre much more cost-effectively than building a new venue from scratch. Godot is one of many productions that haven't found their way to Brisbane because of scheduling conflicts at QPAC. Godot producer Liza McLean says: "Commercially, everybody would love for there to be another venue in Brisbane". Lyndon Terracini, the former Brisbane Festival boss who now runs Opera Australia, agrees. With the city growing at the rate it is, we absolutely need another new venue as soon as possible or risk becoming seen as a cultural backwater. Restoring the original Regent auditorium as part of the current office-tower project for the site would be an efficient way to give our city a versatile theatre/concert/cinema space while protecting Brisbane's last remaining Hollywood-style picture palace for future generations. Anna Bligh, it's not too late to make this happen.

Rick rolls back

Posted March 13th, 2010 by debritz

Update: A little bird tells me (as my father used to say when he wasn't seeing a man about a dog) that Rick Burnett will be using the Nine news appearance to announce that he's taken up a new job which may have some synergies with his new "hippy" look (as shown in this picture I took of him a few weeks ago). It won't be at Channel 9, or any other TV station. (Saturday, March 13, 10.40am AEST)
Update 2: As revealed on Nine, that job is CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful. (Saturday, March 13, 6.27pm AEST)

Channel Nine Brisbane teaser ad, featuring former Extra host Rick Burnett, as posted on YouTube by regular commenter Kuttsywood on March 12.

What's it all about?

Nova: make it local

Posted March 12th, 2010 by debritz

The Courier-Mail is predicting this morning that Nova 106.9 will look outside Brisbane to find a replacement for Ash Bradnam, who has officially parted ways with the former No.1 station. I reckon that would be a big mistake. There is plenty of talent in this city, and now's the time for Nova to make a fresh start by grooming a local rather than trying to parachute in a "star" from elsewhere - especially since anchor Tim Blackwell has been in town for less than a year. I'd suggest the powers that be spend a bit of time listening to other radio stations (commercial, community and the ABC), visiting comedy clubs and scouring the net.
PS: On 612ABC, Spencer Howson and I spoke about Lara Bingle, Doctor Who and stealing stationery. The audio has been posted here.

Magda marches into Brisbane

Posted March 11th, 2010 by debritz

The Channel 9 Today show's "March with Magda" is coming to Brisbane on Monday, March 15. If you want to follow Magda Szubanski around New Farm Park for an early morning constitutional, be at the Rotunda at 6.45am on the day. It's part of the Jenny Craig/Women's Weekly "Australia's Greatest Weight Loss Challenge", with the aim of getting Australians to lose one million kilograms. In a Nine media release, Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson says: "Every time Magda is on the show, we get huge feedback from viewers who are inspired by her story, and want to take action themselves."

Ash Bradnam leaves Nova

Posted March 11th, 2010 by debritz

Meshel Laurie has confirmed on Twitter that Ash Bradnam has left Brisbane's Nova 106.9. Laurie replied "Yep" when asked by Twitterer @iMatt93 if this was the case because only she and Tim Blackwell now appeared on the station's website. Bradnam only rejoined the station's breakfast program recently after a hiatus in which he entered rehab following his arrest and subsequent conviction for drink-driving last year. Nova's breakfast show lost its long-held No.1 spot to B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav in the first ratings survey for 2010. Laurie said via Twitter direct message that she could comment no further.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on 612ABC's Breakfast with Spencer Howson program, which is joint No.1 in breakfast with B105.

Seven takes Ipswich

Posted March 4th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven Brisbane is declaring victory in the battle for Ipswich. A day after both Seven's Sunrise and Nine's Today broadcast from the southeast Queensland city, Seven has issued a media release declaring it had an average of 76,000 viewers on the day. The release continued: "For 6 consecutive years Sunrise, hosted by Melissa Doyle and David Koch has remained south east Queensland’s number one breakfast program and in that time has not lost one week of ratings. " The folks at Nine know they have a way to go and, according to information relayed at a briefing (i.e. long lunch) for journalists (me included) and other media folk at the Normanby Hotel on Tuesday, they are pumping more money into the Queensland market with a view to making Today No. 1. The good news for viewers should be that intense competition makes for better TV. Or, it should ...

From the glass house

Posted March 3rd, 2010 by debritz

The internet continues to present a challenge for radio folk who've never had to know how to spell. Here's a bit of my pedantry on Twitter (read from the bottom up):

Breakfast showdown

Posted March 1st, 2010 by debritz

Coincidence or not? According to information from the two networks, both Channel 7's Sunrise and Channel 9's Today show will be broadcasting live from Ipswich, near Brisbane, on Wednesday. Well, presumably, they'll actually be broadcasting live to Sydney and Melbourne but on a one-hour delay to Brisbane. But they will be here.
Update: Spencer Howson tells me it's Ipswich's 150th aniversary on Wednesday, and 612ABC will have reporter Anne O'Keeffe on the scene, too. Time for your close-up, Cr Pisasale?

Brisbane cinema: some good news

Posted March 1st, 2010 by debritz

The old George/ Lyceum Theatre in George Street is reopening on March 11 under the name Tribal Theatre. Films already programmed range from Casablanca to Pulp Fiction. Details here.

Search me

Posted February 28th, 2010 by debritz

I am trying to put together a showreel of highlights from my various radio spots and decided to search for audio on the ABC Brisbane website. Although I know Spencer Howson posts my segment every week, a search for "Debritz" at yielded just one result (from 2007, when I co-judged a 612ABC competition with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman) and this message:

Radio star retires

Posted February 27th, 2010 by debritz

Luminaries from the Brisbane media, past and present, gathered at the Paddington Tavern on Friday night to say to farewell to producer Majella Marsden, who is retiring after 30 years working in broadcasting. Majella has worked with 4BK, 4BC, B105, Channel 9, River 949 and, most recently, 612ABC. Among those on hand to say farewell were Wayne Roberts (who is also Majella's brother in law), Rick Burnett, Billy J. Smith, Spencer Howson, Kelly Higgins-Devine, Loretta Ryan, Richard Fidler, Gerry Collins, David Greenwood, Rod "Mr T." Tiley, Peter Psaltis, Donna Lynch, Natalie Bochenski, Peter Gooch and Peter Dick. Earlier in the say, Kelly Higgins-Devine hosted an on-air farewell which included contributions from Wayne Roberts (pictured with Majella) and Jamie Dunn. More pictures from the function are here.

Majella's party

Posted February 27th, 2010 by debritz

He's no Superman

Posted February 26th, 2010 by debritz

"You’ve heard of sexual dynamite, meet the man who’s sexual kryptonite." That's the tagline for the standup shows from Greg Sullivan, better known as Sully from Triple M Brisbane's The Cage breakfast show. He'll appear at the Brisbane Powerhouse from March2-7 as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival which will also feature performances by Wil Anderson, Adam Hills, Josh Thomas, Kitty Flanaghan, Frank Woodley, Melinda Buttle, Felicity Ward, Peter Helliar and the Pyjama Men. Details here.

Radio ratings: cheers and tears

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

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

Who listened to the radio?

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

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

Killing time

Posted February 24th, 2010 by debritz assassinates the language.

Who will replace Michael Gow?

Posted February 24th, 2010 by debritz

According to a tweet from the Queensland Theatre Company, its artistic director, Michael Gow, will not renew his contract and will leave in August after programming the 2011 season. While Gow has led the company to some great artistic heights, his departure creates an opportunity for the QTC to renew itself. I think he's been wise to step aside while he's on top, although some will undoubtedly say that he stayed a little too long. No doubt there'll be a lineup of the usual suspects when the job is advertised, but true theatre lovers will hope the QTC board mounts a thorough search and brings in an AD who can lead the company to great success on the local, state, national - and international - stage.

The News is not all bad

Posted February 22nd, 2010 by debritz

The media release proclaiming a ratings victory in Queensland says "Nine wins gold" -- an allusion, of course, to the Winter Olympics. But it was the British program Top Gear and the American sitcom Two and a Half Men that helped Channel 9 snatch victory overall and among its preferred People 25-54 demographic last week. The Games didn't make the top 10 -- and neither, surely worryingly for the former undisputed king of the Bribane 6pm slot, did the Channel 9 News. Seven's Sunday News was No. 3 among all viewers, however Nine notes that its News had its best result so far this year, winning on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Presumably, the return of Melissa Downes after maternity leave will be credited, but it might also have to do with a big local story that happened early last week. Maybe viewers still "come home to Nine" when a Brisbane significant news story breaks.

Monkey business

Posted February 19th, 2010 by debritz

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

Seven claims first week of ratings

Posted February 15th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven is claiming a win in south-east Queensland the first official week of ratings for 2010. Despite crowd-pullers like the Inifgenous All Stars v NRL All Stars rugby league game (on Nine, 359,00 viewers and second overall) and Two and a Half Men (also Nine, 293,000 viewers and third most popular program) , the biggest show of the week was Seven's Sunday News with Sharon Ghidella, which scored 417,000 viewers. Seven claims a 29.9% share, including 7Two, and 26.8% for the main station on its own. Seven claimed half the Top 10, Nine had three programs and Ten had two (although not the much-touted Biggest Loser). In a small victory for local programming, Seven's Queensland Weekender with Dean Miller beat Nine's Funniest Home Vidoes (aka the show where children and animals hurt themselves for our benefit).

On the air

Posted February 12th, 2010 by debritz

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

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