Sounding off on ’08
It was a great year for some, and not others, as stunts ruled the airwaves
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.
Hamish and Andy proved a ratings powerhouse in 2008.