Give me a break

Go­ing to com­mer­cial ra­dio has been a bap­tism of fire for Myf Warhurst, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - -

MYF Warhurst is hop­ing 2009 is go­ing to be much less tur­bu­lent than last year. The bub­bly 34-year-old ad­mits that the past 12 months have been a huge learn­ing curve, tak­ing over the Triple M break­fast slot with Peter Hel­liar and weath­er­ing a storm of (some­times per­sonal) crit­i­cism and poor rat­ings.

Now, though, she feels re­laxed and ready to go into year two of Pete and Myf, as well as an­other se­ries of Spicks and Specks, with quiet con­fi­dence.

Last year started well for Warhurst as she toured the coun­try with the Spicks and Specks live show, Spicks and Speck-tac­u­lar, through­out Jan­uary. The tour had brought her closer to Spicks host Adam Hills and op­pos­ing team cap­tain Alan Brough.

‘‘We’re all so close be­cause of that tour,’’ she says. ‘‘They’re like my broth­ers. If I was in trou­ble I’d give them a ring — they’re quite pro­tec­tive of me.

‘‘I never thought I’d be on stage and to do it with those two, who are so gen­er­ous, we all be­came such good mates. I know that I’m go­ing to look back on that time, busy as it was, as one of the best times of my life.’’

Ra­dio wasn’t quite as happy. When word leaked the pre­vi­ous Oc­to­ber that Warhurst was quit­ting her break­fast slot on Triple J to move to com­mer­cial sta­tion Triple M, the me­dia talked of ‘‘de­fec­tion’’ and some fans cried ‘‘sell­out’’.

Triple M man­age­ment fu­elled the fire when they said the ax­ing of pop­u­lar morn­ing pro­gram Get This with Tony Martin (and pro­duced by Richard Mars­land) was be­cause the sta­tion wanted to fo­cus re­sources on new break­fast shows, in­clud­ing Hel­liar and Warhurst’s.

A big-bud­get, high-pro­file bill­board-and-cin­ema pro­mo­tion cam­paign (said to have cost $500,000) was crit­i­cised by the me­dia and when Pete and Myf fi­nally made its de­but the pair sounded ten­ta­tive.

‘‘Peo­ple turned against me be­cause of that,’’ she says. ‘‘They thought it (the pro­mo­tional cam­paign) was a re­ally big deal. But isn’t that what you do when you get into the com­mer­cial world? You let peo­ple know that you’re on.’’

The first rat­ings sur­vey brought bad news — Pete and Myf had dropped 0.1 points to 6.3 per cent, putting them in sixth po­si­tion.

Warhurst ad­mits it was a shaky start.

‘‘It was a roller-coaster,’’ she says. ‘‘I’d just come off tour and started a new job.

‘‘Try­ing to get to know some­one and de­vel­op­ing a rap­port— good on Triple M for stick­ing with us.

‘‘We’d been mates but we hadn’t spent heaps of so­cial time to­gether. Maybe we were try­ing to work out each other in an on-air sense.’’

Trou­ble was, the rat­ings didn’t get any bet­ter, de­spite Hel­liar and Warhurst set­tling in as the year pro­gressed. They fin­ished the year with a dis­ap­point­ing 4.7 au­di­ence share, down al­most 2 per cent from their de­but.

Warhurst ad­mits it has been dif­fi­cult to look at the rat­ings fig­ures.

‘‘Hope­fully more peo­ple will tune in and we can build the au­di­ence,’’ she says.

‘‘Pete and I walk away from shows think­ing we’ve done the best we can. Hope­fully that will be re­flected in the num­bers soon.’’

THE dev­as­tat­ing news of co­p­re­sen­ter Richard Mars­land’s death in early De­cem­ber shat­tered Warhurst. Even now, she asks not to dis­cuss it.

The year on TV was a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Spicks and Specks con­tin­ued to pros­per de­spite the ab­sence of The Chaser’s War on Ev­ery­thing and Sum­mer Heights High to bol­ster its Wed­nes­day night fig­ures.

This year the Chaser team is back for 10 new shows, which will en­sure more great rat­ings. Warhurst says that she, Hills and Brough are set to do the show for many years to come.

‘‘Peo­ple don’t just watch it, they love it,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s great for us be­cause we en­joy it too. The ABC let us build it. I can’t imag­ine you’d have that lux­ury at a com­mer­cial net­work, to slowly build an au­di­ence. I don’t think Adam, Alan and I are go­ing to split apart any time soon. I can’t imag­ine not work­ing with them.’’

Blondie: Pete Hel­liar and Myf dress up for Shane Warne the Mu­si­cal.

Flower power:

Myf is hop­ing for less of a roller-coaster ride this year.

Pic­ture: MANUELA CIFRA

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