As someone who is today again on the receiving end of the ways of Fairfax media, I read “Alan Jones — yesterday’s parrot?” in yesterday’s Crikey with particular interest.

Glenn Dyer pointed out that:

…there was little discussion in The Sydney Morning Herald of the poor performance of Fairfax radio’s 2UE talk station in Sydney. 2UE’s poor performance was lumped into a final paragraph with other stations. Its share fell to 6.6 Monday to Friday from 7.1, a drop of half a point and its share in breakfast, mornings, afternoon and drive, all the important timeslots, fell.

Macquarie Radio’s easy music station, 2CH, now has a higher share than 2UE (at 6.7) Monday to Friday and outrates it in the morning and afternoon shifts. 2CH also has more listeners on weekends. Surely that was a story for the SMH news editors?

Well, contrast that with Fairfax’s The Age newspaper and its positively gushing piece “3AW Footy Back On Top” with a feature article on page three of sport.

I certainly can’t recall the sports section of any newspaper writing an article about a radio station’s ratings with such prominence. There certainly wasn’t anything written in The Age in 2006 when 3AW re-claimed the number one spot it had previously lost to Triple M while I was Executive Producer, and 3AW was owned by Southern Cross. (Outside of a couple of paragraphs in Geoff McClure’s back page “Sporting Life” snippets column.)

The article wrote that “… 3AW leads its nearest rival by 5% on Friday nights and Sunday (and) the lead is closer to 2.5% on Saturday afternoons and evenings.”

What it didn’t write in its fawning piece on its Fairfax radio stablemate, was that it leads Triple M by 10.7% Monday to Fridays. So Melbourne’s dominant station that has nearly three times the listeners of its main AFL commercial rival is only just ahead by Saturday afternoon. (3AW rates 16.8 Monday to Friday and 15.3 Saturday afternoon. Triple M rates 6.1 Monday to Friday and 12.7 Saturday afternoon – who has footy as a “switch-on” factor then?)

Am I bitter? You bet.

A year ago I was gutlessly and very publicly made a scapegoat of at 3AW and sacked as the Executive Producer of the football coverage, and the Sports Today drive show by then 3AW General Manager Graham Mott. I believe the oh-so-tough Mott is now in senior management at Fairfax.

It was done without warning, off the back of one terrible football survey and just two survey’s after Sports Today had its highest rating for five years.

I had been head-hunted for the dual role at the end of 2005 when 3AW’s football coverage was being comprehensively beaten by Triple M. In 2006 3AW Football unexpectedly won everything, and Mott gave me a decent pay rise. (I say unexpectedly given that I also received a bonus for beating Triple M.)

At the end of that “clean-sweep” in 2006, (including every available AFL media association award) Mott also gave former “A-list” TV star Rex Hunt a massive three-year deal at the end of a year that saw not only his media presence outside of 3AW reduced to re-runs of Rex Hunt Fishing Adventures on the Lifestyle Channel, but more importantly he was involved in a front page s-x scandal. Mott also signed a dud deal with the AFL — parts of which he tried to get changed mid-last year. (This was told to me by a very, very senior AFL official.) He also thought it was a good idea to hand genuine “A-list” football great Garry Lyon to rival Triple M on a platter.

In fairness to Mott however, prior to sacking me — along with Craig Hutchison, Trevor Marmalade and Dr Turf — he was spending most of his time in Sydney — at 2UE.

I recall he was putting a lot of work into their breakfast team:

  • 2UE – 2008 Survey 4 – 6.6. 2UE breakfast – 2008 Survey 4 – 6.9
  • 2UE – 2006 Survey 4 – 7.7. 2UE breakfast – 2006 Survey 4 – 7.9
  • 2UE – 2005 Survey 4 – 8.3. 2UE breakfast – 2005 Survey 4 – 8.4

I wish Mott well, and I also wish any hard working family men or women at 2UE the very best of luck in the future.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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