Brisbane
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Brisbane

Not so Andy in the morning

Posted February 6th, 2010 by debritz

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

Hamish and Andy look to the future

Posted February 5th, 2010 by debritz

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

Confidence rules at Austereo

Posted February 4th, 2010 by debritz

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

Let Kyle be your judge

Posted February 4th, 2010 by debritz

Kyle Sandilands has been announced as one of the judges of Channel Seven's Australia's Got Talent. I wish him well in this fresh start. Honestly. Brisbane auditions will be held on Tuesday, February 9, at the University of Queensland Union Level 2, Union Complex (Building 22), Union Rd, St Lucia from 11am–6pm.

A legal matter

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by debritz

A man - who I won't name for reasons that will soon become obvious - has appeared in a Brisbane court. The same man appeared in court many years ago. Briefly, Brisbane's two major internet news sites mentioned the man's "prior" before realising that to do so was prejudicial to his right to the presumption of innocence and, consequently, to a fair trial. They would also have been aware that publication of the information could be a breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. The ABC television news and the print edition of The Courier-Mail's coverage of the story was limited to the matters now before the court. However, at least one commercial television news service either deliberately decided to flout the law, or its reporter and editors were unaware of the law, and details of the man's previous conviction were broadcast. Astounding.

Not so think as you dumb I am

Posted February 1st, 2010 by debritz

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

Des puts down his pen

Posted January 27th, 2010 by debritz

Des Partridge, photo from Courier-Mail websiteBrisbane journalist Des Partridge has retired after 53 years in newspapers, mostly at The Courier-Mail, where he has been the film reviewer for four decades. Spencer Howson spoke to Des on his 612ABC breakfast show, and you can hear the audio here.

Is The Oz going online only?

Posted January 23rd, 2010 by debritz

The big rumour doing the rounds in the Australian media biz is that The Australian, which was recently separated as a business unit from other News Ltd newspapers, will soon become an online-only, but still paid-for, product. For those of us who love newspapers, that would be a great shame, but it could guarantee the survival of the title in difficult times and prove to be a blueprint for other publications. And, as I've already speculated (here), the expected announcement of Apple's new tablet computer next week could provide the perfect delivery platform for internet newspapers.
PS: There's a thread on Twitter about newsagencies closing down in Brisbane -- a sad casualty of dropping sales of papers and magazines, and of rising retail rents.

Thank God it's Friday

Posted January 22nd, 2010 by debritz

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

Back on the air

Posted January 21st, 2010 by debritz

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

Lofty on a high

Posted January 19th, 2010 by debritz

It wasn't just the brief return of Bruce Paige over Christmas that got people switching to Channel 9's Brisbane news. According to a network media release, "Nine News celebrated the return of [usual weeknight reader] Andrew Lofthouse last week with a solid victory". Nine News' weekday bulletin claimed the week with five wins out of five and an average viewing audience of 232,000 to Seven’s 208,000. According to the release "it was Nine News Queensland’s second weekly win for the year to date, claiming weeks 1 and 3 with Seven winning week 2 by the narrowest of margins." It's great to see some competition between the stations that doesn't just involve one-upmanship in Haiti.
PS: Nine also says new mum Melissa Downes will be back in the newsreading chair on February 8.

All change at the Courier

Posted January 19th, 2010 by debritz

The Courier-Mail has announced a raft of changes to its features pullouts. In confirming that MasterChef star Matt Preston will write a weekly column for Tuesday's taste liftout (a national product with local inclusions), the Courier also revealed that its existing CM2 features section on Friday and Your Money on Monday would be complemented by a rebranded TV liftout, Switched On, on Wednesdays, and a music and movies section, Hit, on Thursdays. The changes seem to fit in with moves to streamline the production of features sections across the News Ltd group.

Walk on the wild side

Posted January 17th, 2010 by debritz

Question: What are you up for?
Did you answer: visitng the exhibitions at the Gallery of Modern Art, sharing a seafood platter at Scarborough or boutique shopping in Fortitude Valley and Paddington? Or was you thinking of something a little more sleazy? That's the concern about a new Tourism Queensland campaign which poses that very question. Splash Consulting Group managing director Amanda Stevens told The Sunday Mail: "It is something some drunk bogan would say to someone at a pub." While I don't describe my friends as bogans, if I asked one of them what they were "up for", they'd probably be thinking of a destination a little more daring than GoMA.

Say that again ...

Posted January 14th, 2010 by debritz

From Channel 7 Brisbane news:

With the help of his daughter, [man's name] will be 75 when he graduates with a Bachelor of Arts.

How old will he be without her help?
Related story: Don't let it dangle

Shak axed

Posted January 13th, 2010 by debritz

The most popular story on this blog in recent times has been about the Queensland-produced Channel 9 kids' show The Shak. The show's many thousands of fans, then, will be extremely disappointed to hear reports currently circulating on Twitter that the show - along with all other in-house children's programming - has been axed. If true, this would mean job losses in Brisbane and elsewhere.
Update: Channel 9 has reportedly denied it's axing all in-house production, but The Shak is not being renewed. That's still bad news for Brisbane and local production.
Jan 15 update: The Courier-Mail has caught up with the story here.

Go Cards not so smart

Posted January 12th, 2010 by debritz

The Queensland Government has made a big song and dance about how clever its public transport smart-card technology is - so much so that paper tickets will be phased out (the first stage being to make them much more expensive, well beyond the CPI increase). Soon, every south-east Queenslander who wants to use public transport will be forced to own a Go Card. Now Transport Queensland has admitted that a means for allowing tourists to use the soon-to-be-ticketless system is "still being worked out". (Translation: whoops, we forgot about them.)
PS: By the way, where do I go to get a refund on the $3 extra charge I copped because the rear Go Card reader on the bus I caught last week wasn't working? In fact, two of the three buses I caught on Wednesday had out-of-service machines at the exit, but I was able to leave from the front of one of them and swipe my card there. I'm sure whatever I have to do to get a refund will be worth more than $3 in expense and/or effort.

Meshel Laurie's literary dream

Posted January 11th, 2010 by debritz

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

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

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

Phantom of the theatre

Posted January 10th, 2010 by debritz

Is Brisbane's Arts Theatre haunted? The Sunday Mail has a fun video here featuring the theatre's president Alex Lanham, who says he can feel the presence of the company's founder, Jean Trundle, back stage. Meanwhile, in the world of the living, the Arts Theatre's latest production, a revival of John Birmingham's He Died with a Felafel in his Hand, is doing a roaring trade. Last night's performance was a sell-out, but tickets are available for performances for performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Details here. Later this year, the Arts will host the premiere of Birmingham's The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco.

Bruce is boss

Posted January 7th, 2010 by debritz

If Bruce Paige, the longtime Brisbane Channel 9 newsreader who has returned to the box in the past few weeks as a holiday fill-in, is feeling unloved, he should get on to Facebook. A Bruce Paige Appreciation Society has been set up with the aim of making sure he doesn't disappear from the airwaves altogether. Maybe that's not such a bad idea. The word from Mt Coot-tha is that the news has been rating very well indeed with BP solo at the helm over the silly season. He must be happy with that.

Which way for radio?

Posted January 2nd, 2010 by debritz

We all know the drill. Like all other businesses, media companies are about making money and "creating value" for their shareholders. To do this, commercial radio stations compete to build big (or targetted) audiences, some of whom will buy the products and services advertised on the station. The basic principle is not rocket science -- but finding the right content to attract the audiences, and hence the advertisers, is getting harder and harder. Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was a matter of building a show around a format -- usually top 40 pop music or "talkback" radio -- and hiring, or creating, a big star -- a single person with an over-the-top personality and some crazy modern patter -- to host the breakfast show. The thinking was that if you win breakfast, people won't change the dial and you've got the day sewn up. Back then, there were relatively few commercial stations (in Brisbane, just five of them -- 4BC, 4BH, 4BK, 4KQ and 4IP -- all on the AM dial) and there was apparently enough advertising revenue to go around. Not many people were talking "double-digit growth" back then but the era of greed was just around the corner. In the 80s came the percieved need to hire a breakfast "crew" -- usually comprising an anchor man, a funny bloke and a woman whose job is was to laugh at the funny bloke's jokes. When B105 rocketed to the top of the Brisbane ratings and stayed there for more than a decade, there were also another three people in the backroom writing jokes and producing sketches and funny songs, plus producers, assistants and a small squadron of "Black Thunder" drivers to take the show to the streets. Radio not only got more expensive to produce, it became more competitive with the issuing of new licences. But, still, it was a small, exclusive club. You had to have deep pockets to be in the game -- the new FM licences were auctioned off for tens of millions of dollars, and sometimes more than $100 million -- and the government protected the players by restricting access to the airwaves. But things have changed dramatically in the past few years. Competition among the players for a dwindling audience has become much more intense, with stations splashing out millions in what would otherwise be profit on promoting themselves simply to stay in the game. And, somewhere along the way, there was a resurgence in commercial talk radio, with the superstars of broadcasting no longer being the DJs spinning the platters that matter but the likes of John Laws, Ray Hadley and Alan Jones and other so-called "shock jocks" who drew huge audiences with their forthright (and often far-right) opinions. In Brisbane, commercial talk has not taken hold as it has elsewhere in Australia, but FM ain't what it used to be either. Even though Nova 106.9FM is the No. 1 station, its parent company DMG Radio Australia recently sold off half its shares to Lachlan Murdoch for $110 million -- considerably less than half the amount the company initially shelled out on buying the licences for its network of Nova and Vega stations. Stringent cost-cutting has ensued at the low-rating Vegas in Sydney and Melbourne, while Sydney's Nova will begin this year with a revamped breakfast team. In fact, it's been a bit of a bloodbath across the board in Sydney, with every commercial station except 2GB and 2Day changing its breakfast line-up in the past 12 months. It's been reported that Triple M Sydney is poised to change again following the failure of its second new team in a year. In Brisbane, the situation is much more stable, but there remains a question mark over Nova's breakfast line-up, which was tweaked last year when Kip Wightman left to travel overseas and was replaced by Tim Blackwell, and Ash Bradman was suspended from the station after a drink-driving offence which led to him being admitted to rehab. Meanwhile, station mainstay Meshel Laurie was broadcasting from home in the lead-up to the birth of her twins, but she has said that she will be back on air as usual when the Christmas-New Year break is over. The ratings have held up for now, but maybe that's been on the back of the scandal rather than a true reflection of how the station is performing. Unlike in other markets, the overall picture in Brisbane remains quite competitive, with B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav, Triple M's The Cage with Ian Skippen, and 97.3FM's Bob, Terry and Robin all within striking distance of the No. 1 spot, and the last two with distinct markets more or less to themselves. On the AM dial, 4KQ had a small but no-doubt-welcome ratings surge towards the end of the year, consolidating its leadership over 4BH among the older demographic (although BH is still in the game), and 4BC, with a breakfast show hosted by former B105 ratings powerhouse Jamie Dunn, edging in the right direction but failing to capture the large audience share enjoyed by talk stations elsewhere in Australia. And while the folks at the commercial stations will tell you that they don't consider the ABC a threat, it must be of great concern to 4BC management that 612ABC's Spencer Howson was No. 1 overall in the breakfast slot in three out of eight surveys last year, and tied with Nova for No. 1 on two other occasions. The ABC might not sell adverts, but it denies the commercial stations the audience figures that allow them to charge more for their ads. (Community stations such as 96.5 also command a share of the audience, but the survey doesn't accommodate them, presumably on the grounds that the commercial stations don't want to know. If I was running a radio station, I'd want accurate figures for every player in the game and want to poach whichever listeners I could.) I don't foresee big line-up changes in the immediate future, but I'm sure budget cuts will continue to be the order of the day in an industry that is facing huge challenges -- not the least from the internet, where anyone can set up a podcast or a live audio stream. Once internet-radio receivers become more sophisticated and bandwidth and wireless reach becomes greater and cheaper, even the better quality and alternative streams afforded by digital radio won't stop the audience drifting away from the general offerings of the big broadcasters to targetted programing online. Radio stations no longer celebrate ratings survey wins as they once did (the old FM104 in Brisbane used to hire a band and offer free-flowing beer, wine and champagne to staff, advertisers and other media hangers-on -- me included -- each time it won a survey; these days the staff are lucky to be shouted a round at the pub after work.) The days of excess are over across the media landscape, because everything is changing. The networks have already started reassessing their stars' pay packets -- 2UE in Sydney just saved $1 million a year by losing Mike Carlton -- and there'll be further cuts, and more ruthless decisions, down the track. "Industry observers" such as myself will be keeping a close eye on Melbourne's Triple M, where Eddie McGuire -- a big attraction on television -- has been paid a motza to try to reverse the station's fortunes. At last report, the figures had a small move upwards, but there's a long way to go and Eddie and his bosses must be sweating. We'll also be keeping an eye on the experiment at Sydney's Vega, where the breakfast team has been axed altogether in favour of an all-music format. If it works, others will certainly follow -- it coud well be worth sacrificing a few ratings points to minimise the salary and promotion budget. Even 2Day's highflying Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, who survived a couple of scandals last year, are not bulletproof. They may well enjoy a few more ratings wins, but I think it's fair to say that their hey-day is over, and Austereo (the parent company of 2Day, B105, Fox FM and the Triple M network) is quietly panicking about what to do next. (As I've said before, I think Austereo is underusing its greatest assets, drivetime superstars Hamish and Andy). The big worry is knowing when to make a change, because a fall from grace can be swift but it can also take years for a new show to "bed in". And these days, no business can afford to wait years for a result, because the world is simply moving too fast.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz has been a regular guest on Spencer Howson's breakfast show on 612ABC for the past few years, and has previously been heard on 4BC and B105.

Where to get on

Posted December 28th, 2009 by debritz

I've blogged here and spoken on 612ABC about Queensland Rail's policy on where three-carriage trains should stop at stations. A QR spokesman told me that basically it was up to the driver's judgment whether to stop in the middle or at the end of the platform. But maybe there is a rule after all, explaining this:


Picture taken on December 25, 2009 at Fortitude Valley station.

It's only natural, Paigy

Posted December 23rd, 2009 by debritz

If, like me, you heard reporter Neil Doorley refer to Channel 9 Brisbane newsreader Bruce Paige as "BP" during a live cross on Monday night, you may have wondered whether Nine News was becoming less formal. I asked a Channel 9 publicist if this was on purpose and here's the response: "No deliberate effort to make the news more informal, just a very natural and familiar exchange between Paigy and Neil."

Some mistake, surely

Posted December 23rd, 2009 by debritz

A search on realestate.com.au for properties in South Bank, Brisbane and "surrounding suburbs" comes up with some very affordable houses in West End. Pity it's the West End in Townsville, some 1300 kilometres from Brisbane. Seems the computer has mixed it up with the West End in south Brisbane.

ABC ends year on a high

Posted December 21st, 2009 by debritz

My full analysis of the year in radio is yet to come, but here's some interesting stats that may well relate to my earlier post about talk radio in Brisbane: 612 ABC has had its most successful year overall (average share) since 1996. In breakfast, Spencer Howson won the survey three times and tied twice with Nova 106.9, which won the other three times. Apparently 2009 has been the best year for 612 breakfast, position-wise, in 25 years.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz has been a regular guest on Spencer Howson's program during 2009, but this could just be a coincidence.

Starting big at La Boite

Posted November 24th, 2009 by debritz

Hamlet will be the 2010 season-opener and new artistic director David Berthold's directorial debut for Brisbane La Boite company. Toby Shmitz will play the distracted Dane. The season will also include Eugene Ionesco's absurdist drama The Chairs starring Jennifer Flowers and Eugene Gilfedder, and Neil Armfield directing Gwen in Purgatory. Details here.

O is for Oprah

Posted November 23rd, 2009 by debritz

Overheard conversation between two late-teenage women on a Brisbane train:
First: Oprah's quitting. I was going to text you.
Second: Oh my God.
First: Yeah, I only heard the first part of it, but it's totally next year.
Second: I was going to become a student next year just so I could watch her.

Who's on and who's off air in 2010

Posted November 20th, 2009 by debritz

The official word from the aptly named Lissner Street studios in Toowong is that there will be no change to the on-air line-up for Radio 612ABC in 2010 -- meaning it's still Spencer Howson for breakfast, Madonna King on morning, Richard Fidler for the Conversation Hour and early afternoons, Kelly Higgins-Devine in drive time and Steve Austin at night. As reported here first, Jamie Dunn has at least anohter year in him at breakfast on 4BC (although the station manager David McDonald told the Courier-Mail that reports [from me] he had signed for another year were wrong; they had merely agreed to take up the option for a second year), although there has been a reshuffle at nights, with Ian Maurice moving forward to share the early-evening former Sport Today slot with Peter Psaltis and Walter Williams taking the late-night shift. As I also reported first, there are no changes planned in breakfast at B105 or Triple M, which both did well this year. Presumably, Nova 106.9 will have Tim Blackwell and Meshel Laurie (who had said on Twitter that she will probably only take off a normal holiday period when her twins are born, an imminent occurrence), and probably Ash Bradnam after he returns from rehab following his drink-driving charges. However, there's still a vacancy in breakfast at Nova in Sydney following the departures of Tim Ross and Kate Ritchie. No word yet from 4BH, 4KQ or 97.3FM, but I'd be surprised if there are changes this time around. While they aren't hitting the ratings heghts, none of them are paying the big-numbers game and are content to do well in their chosen demographics.
Brett Debritz has been heard this year on 612ABC

Coles = Voldermort?

Posted November 19th, 2009 by debritz

A big BOO! HISS! to Coles who, despite widespread advertising of their spend-$100-and-get-a-Harry-Potter-DVD-for-$5 promotion, didn't actually have any DVDs when somebody very close to me went to buy one today. No raincheck was offered.

Musical moments

Posted November 18th, 2009 by debritz

Tex Perkins' star turn as Johnny Cash in The Man in Black has, according to the show's publicist, had Brisbane audiences "crying out for more". The producers, Folsom Prison Productions, have extended the season at the Twelfth Night Theatre until December 13. In a not-so-similar vein, Eurovision parody Eurobeat, starring Rhonda Burchmore and Glynn Nicholas with guest appearances from Glenn Shorrock and Wilbur Wilde, opens at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, on November 25.

Comedy for a good cause

Posted November 18th, 2009 by debritz

Wil Anderson, Claire Hooper, Frank Woodley, Greg Sullivan, Tom Gleeson, Stav Davidson, Lindsay Webb, Terry Hansen, Fred Lang, Katrina Davidson and Mark McConville are among the top-notch comics who will perform in the Doin' It For Dave gig at the Sit Down Comedy Club, at Brisbane's Paddington Tavern on Sunday, November 22 at 4pm and 7pm. The money raised will help popular comic Dave Grant in his fight against pancreatic cancer. Book tickets, at $45 each, on 3369 4466.

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