Sound­ing off on ’08

It was a great year for some, and not oth­ers, as stunts ruled the air­waves

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - GREG THOM

CAR­A­VANS across the con­ti­nent, rat­ings heartache and ec­stasy, and a baby boom that would make for­mer fed­eral trea­surer Peter Costello proud. Ra­dio has had it all this year. In a year of highs and lows, some of those who rule the air waves may be glad to see the end of 2008.

TripleM­drive duo Wil An­der­son and An­thony Lehmann cer­tainly will. Sta­tion man­age­ment brought the cur­tain down on the co­me­di­ans’ ten­ure af­ter two years.

Along with bearded 3AW thun­derer Der­ryn Hinch, the pair strug­gled to make a dent in the phe­nom­e­nal rat­ings jug­ger­naut that is Hamish Blake and Andy Lee.

The FOX FM drive-time funny men had the No.1 show in ev­ery cap­i­tal city, snar­ing more than 20 per cent of all Mel­bourne lis­ten­ers and knock­ing 3AW off its No.1 rat­ings perch for the first time in six years.

Fall­ing rat­ings were not the only prob­lem on Hinch’s mind.

The ‘‘mouth from the south’’ pro­voked a back­lash in March when he spec­u­lated on the cause of death of fel­low 3AW col­league and sports com­men­ta­tor Clin­ton Gry­bas, found dead in his South­bank apart­ment on Jan­uary 5.

At the op­po­site end of the day, break­fast ends the year as it be­gan: a rat­ings bat­tle ground not for the faint-hearted.

While stal­warts The Matt and Jo Show on FOX and Nova’s Hugh­esy and Kate con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate, new­com­ers Peter Hel­liar and Myf Warhurst on Triple M, Two Women and a Metro on MIX 101.1 and the team led by Ian ‘Dicko’ Dick­son on Vega, failed to set the world on fire.

Sta­tion man­age­ments have con­tin­u­ally backed their crews, main­tain­ing it takes time to build an au­di­ence. There’s been no talk of axes fall­ing . . . yet.

The rat­ings bat­tle only added spice to some of the weird, won­der­ful and whacky ploys FM ra­dio crews were pre­pared to pull in a bid to get lis­ten­ers’ at­ten­tion.

The FOX FM break­fast crew was at the fore­front of the shenani­gans, or­gan­is­ing a nude wed­ding cer­e­mony and spending a week get­ting on each oth­ers’ nerves liv­ing in a Mernda dis­play home.

Hamish and Andy, mean­while, loved haul­ing their Car­a­van of Courage to Perth and back so much they’ve done it again, this time trav­el­ling to Dar­win.

Dick­son did ev­ery­thing from pull on the footy boots to try his hand at stand-up com­edy. He even stepped into the wrestling ring in a bid to en­gage lis­ten­ers.

While Hamish and Andy headed for the Out­back, ABC pon­tif­i­ca­tor Jon Faine bought a ve­hi­cle and took off for the other side of the world, driv­ing to Lon­don on a six-month odyssey with his son, Jack.

As Faine was rough­ing it bump­ing along un­made roads in Turk­istan, in­ter­na­tional air­line de­par­ture lounges were full of mi­cro­phon­earmed DJs.

Hamish and Andy fol­lowed up a stint broad­cast­ing their pro­gram from Afghanistan with a spot of ghost­ing at the Bei­jing Olympics.

In a case of Mr Mitchell goes to Wash­ing­ton, the 3AW talk-back king Neil Mitchell hit the streets of the US cap­i­tal to get the low-down on the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Sports-fo­cused ra­dio sta­tion SEN nudged out the big boys to score a ma­jor coup by se­cur­ing the Mel­bourne ra­dio rights to the Olympics.

Ir­rev­er­ent fun­ny­men Roy and H.G., mean­while, made the best of Chan­nel 7’s de­ci­sion not to send them to Bei­jing.

The pair in­stead de­liv­ered their unique take on all things sport to Triple J audiences via The Golden Ring Show ‘‘live’’ from the Mon­go­lian Club in the For­bid­den City.

Hugh­esy and Kate ruf­fled more than a few feathers when they en­listed the help of Roberta Wil­liams for a con­tro­ver­sial gang­land tour of Mel­bourne.

3AW got its mojo back fol­low­ing last year’s foot­ball fi­asco, adding silky voiced com­men­ta­tor Den­nis Cometti to its team along­side Rex Hunt. This helped the sta­tion win the foot­ball rat­ings bat­tle ahead of arch ri­val Triple M.

Sev­eral ra­dio vet­er­ans farewelled the air­waves.

MAGIC 1278 break­fast an­nouncer An­drew McLaren called it a day af­ter 14 years, open­ing the way for long time co-host Ann Gild­ing to team up with Kevin John.

Vet­eran Sport 927 racing com­men­ta­tor John Ver­ti­gan traded his mi­cro­phone for love af­ter 53 years on air, mov­ing to the US to marry his fi­ancee, Judy Klein.

Spurred by slid­ing rat­ings, 3AW af­ter­noon cack­ler Ernie Sigley signed off this month af­ter 12 years, step­ping aside for De­nis Wal­ter.

There must have been some­thing in the wa­ter at FM sta­tions around town this year.

Nova’s Dave Hughes and wife Holly are the lat­est in a string of ra­dio preg­nan­cies, in­clud­ing sta­tion col­league Cal Wil­son, FOX FM break­fast an­nouncer Jo Stan­ley and Vega’s Chrissie Swan.

Still laugh­ing:

Hamish and Andy proved a rat­ings pow­er­house in 2008.

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