Apr 16, 2018

Why does every FM radio show sound like it’s hosted by the same five people?

Comedian + sportsperson + incomprehensible name = profit? We take a look at the seemingly fixed categories of people you'll find on your airwaves.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

Can you tell your "Hughesy" from your "Wippa"? Your "Smallzy" from your "Soda"?

In cities and towns across the country, the world of FM radio is the most cut-throat of the media. They live and die by their ratings, with shows axed, and hosts unceremoniously dumped from month to month. The hosts rise up through the ranks -- coming from regional or community radio, like triple j's Ben and Liam, or former Fox FM hosts Hamish and Andy. KIIS in Melbourne even went as far afield as New Zealand to find its new breakfast hosts, Jase and PJ.

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11 thoughts on “Why does every FM radio show sound like it’s hosted by the same five people?

  1. Peter Adams

    Great piece Emily, and high time someone had a look over this ‘landscape’. The only category missing from the taxonomy however was ‘newsreader’ (usually TV) who gets a spot, presumably to drag in any of their loyal followers, though admittedly they are in short supply nowadays. Breakfast radio teams appear primarily composed of either a combination of/or all of the following: footballer, comedian, woman, (TV) newsreader… and all so predictably formulaic and contrived, as to put you off your breakfast. I stopped listening years ago and can’t say it’s done me any harm at all.

  2. Evil Garry

    The thing that drives me nuts about all these shows is the way they style their patter to try and make it come across as spontaneous off-the-cuff chatting, when we all know it was totally rehearsed earlier in the day at the production meeting, after their flunkies had gone through the morning papers picking out the topics they might be able to engineer some kind of conversation about, and then combining that with anecdotes about who the hosts and their staff might have slept/drank/threw up with in the preceeding few days…all in the hope that they can get the odd listener to phone in about it and fill up their otherwise unproductive airtime.

  3. bushby jane

    ABC are still copping flack from listeners of Red, may have to rethink their choices eventually, although brains don’t seem to come into decision making there of late. Still miss Jon Cleary on Sunday nights.

  4. bref

    Good piece Emily, although it doesn’t affect me much as these days I mostly listen to ABC and just flick through until I hear something I like, usually news or local commentary and then settle for classical music while I work.
    As an interesting aside and I’m aware its off topic but I’ve been looking for a quality sound bar for my new TV and to my amazement none of the suppliers (good guys, harvey norman or jb hifi) stock sound bars with FM radio. Not only that when I ask about it they look at me as if I’m stupid and say people don’t listen to the radio anymore and to use bluetooth or wifi. I don’t bother to state the obvious that if my wife takes the iPad into the back room, she takes the signal with her or the fact that I use a ‘poor man’s sonos system’ throughout the house. (The iMac in my office with a $20 FM transmitter sends a signal to any radio in the house, patio or garden at the same time, so no matter where I am I can listen to my music, I even change the programming using phone or pad – great for parties). I guess kids these days haven’t worked that out or are happy to pay thousands of dollars for a sonos system to get the same result. I’m buying my new Philips sound bar with FM online.

    1. Richard

      What type of FM transmitter?

  5. AR

    So glad that you didn’t include the bogan brekky show in west Sydney which seems to aimed at people who move their lips when listening.
    One daily segment is a Battle of the Sexes, 5 question quiz (hi, WendyH and PeteM late last century!) charmingly known as Vs versus Ds.
    A recent round had, from 5, a single correct answer, not including neither of the participants (not ‘contestants’) knowing how many world wars there have been.

  6. Perkin Warbeck

    It is little wonder community radio is thriving when this drivel is thrust down the FM signal (not to mention dear old tinny AM and their increasingly shouty announcers who have the intellectual capacity of the H.R. Nicholls Society’s after dinner ramblings). With the ABC under Guthrie heading down the same path, anything but these “stalwarts” please. I frankly don’t care if every commercial broadcaster goes broke while pandering to the lowest common denominator (witness what’s happened to the once respectable and revered Macquarie radio network). If the next non-LNP government doesn’t grab the ABC back before it lemming leaps off after the FM juvenalia, then we will have lost a valuable, collectively owned national resource.

    1. bref

      Thank you for reminding me Perkin, I forgot to mention above that I too really enjoy our local community radio.

  7. Helen Razer

    It is in the spirit of dedicated self-interest I introduce the charming duo, Knackers and the Vadge.

  8. Richard

    And why the same exaggerated advertorials and “talking down telephones” type ads?
    Because there are only that many “types” of vacuous airheads.
    Except Dave Hughes. He is no vacuous airhead.

  9. Limited Through Mixed

    Nowadays with networking one can run a FM radio station cheaply. You only need two or three ‘live and breathing’ people in the station from 0530 or 0600 to 0900. Then run your ‘more songs less talk’ with no announcer until the drive segment which kicks in from 1600 until 1800 which would be a nationally syndicated show followed by another syndicated show until midnight then music.
    Weekends would include a ‘best of’ the breakfast team from the week before.
    Music tracks and advertisements would be programmed weeks if not months in advance from nothing more than a laptop. You would have more ‘sales’ people on your staff than actual announcers (if they are not pressed into sales).
    Cheap, cheerful and nasty radio all from Sydney or Melbourne.

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