ABC makes big changes to radio programs across Australia

Article by Amanda Meade/
The Guardian /
December 05, 2017 /
Click here to view original /

The ABC has made sweeping changes to its radio schedule, dumping hosts, shifting time slots and introducing double-headed Breakfast programs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

At ABC Sydney, the Breakfast presenter, Robbie Buck, will team up with the Mornings presenter, Wendy Harmer, for one show which will run between 6am and 10am, with a half-hour break for AM at 8am.

Although AM remains untouched in the restructure, The World Today with Eleanor Hall and the flagship PM have been halved to 30 minutes, as revealed by Guardian Australia on Tuesday.

The decision to cut the ABC’s daily radio current affairs output from two and a half hours to 90 minutes has been met with anger by ABC listeners and journalists.

The Drive shifts have been extended to 6.30pm to capture the longer commuting times at the end of the day, says the director of radio, Michael Mason.

“We know that our metropolitan audiences are seeking a broader mix of quality local news and information at that time relevant to their commute home,” Mason said.

The ABC’s news director, Gaven Morris, told staff the changes to radio current affairs were audience-driven, there were no cuts to jobs and they would free up resources for podcasts and digital storytelling.

Seven months after the death of PM host Mark Colvin, the ABC has named former foreign correspondent Linda Mottram as his replacement next year on the shorter PM, which will shift to 6.30pm on local radio and remain at 5pm on Radio National.

Melbourne also gets a dual breakfast team with Jacinta Parsons and comedian Sami Shah co-hosting from 5.30am to 7.45am, replacing Red Symons who announced last week he had been dumped.

A new capital city mid-morning program, Focus, will start at 10am in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth hosted by Emma Griffiths in Brisbane, Cassie McCullagh in Sydney and Nadia Mitsopoulos in Perth. Mornings presenter Jon Faine hosts his Conversation hour at 11am in Melbourne.

RN Drive presenter Patricia Karvelas has added a television show to her roster at the ABC and will give up her role hosting her Sunday night program on Sky News Australia. The new ABC Karvelas show is yet unnamed but will screen on the ABC News channel at 9pm Sundays.

Regional audiences are getting a new 25-minute regional national current affairs program at 6.05pm on weekdays. “Our new current affairs program provides audiences, particularly those living in regional Australia, with a mix of news and information from across the country at the end of the day,” the director of ABC Regional, Fiona Reynolds, said. “Regional Australians have told us that they want to know what matters to people in other communities and have a say in national conversations.”

As previously reported, Triple J and Double J presenter Myf Warhurst will host a new early afternoon music and culture show with a “contemporary and conversational feel” on local radio on weekdays at 12.30pm, replacing the second half of The World Today.

In Perth the Breakfast presenter Peter Bell will be joined by Paula Kruger for another joint production. Mason said the move to co-hosted Breakfast programs was due to the positive response from listeners in cities where a double-header presentation had been trialled.

In Canberra, Adam Shirley was named the new Mornings presenter, replacing experienced broadcaster Genevieve Jacobs who told colleagues she was “very sad” to be told by management “her services were no longer required” after a decade. “At 50 I am certainly not retiring and I am also hoping to continue my work in the community,” Jacobs said in an email.

The 2018 line-up also includes new afternoon presenters in Brisbane (Katherine Feeney); Melbourne (Richelle Hunt); Canberra (Anna Vidot); and Liz Trevaskis in Darwin.

There are also new Drive presenters in Brisbane (Steve Austin); Perth (Geoff Hutchison); and Canberra (Laura Tchilinguirian).

On Radio National, Michael Cathcart’s Books and Arts has been replaced by a new daily arts show, The Hub, which will cover a different discipline each day at 10am.

The Stage Hub will be presented by Cathcart on Mondays, The Book Hub by Claire Nichols on Tuesdays, The Art Hub by musician Eddie Ayres on Wednesdays and on Thursdays Jason Di Rosso will present The Screen Hub. On Fridays a popular culture show Stop Everything!, presented by Beverley Wang, Benjamin Law and Lauren Rosewarne, will air at 10am.