Ben Fordham (Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

Alan Jones is gone, long live the new king of radio. Well, Sydney breakfast radio wannabee, Ben Fordham.

Fordham cracked the move from 2GB drive to 2GB breakfast to replace Jones, and it’s paid off for Nine and its Macquarie radio subsidiary.

In a win for Nine, it replaced the abrasive and divisive Jones (and loser of valuable revenue and profits through advertiser boycotts in the last couple of years) with a smoother, less controversial host with a small loss of listeners and probably more contented advertisers.

The first post-COVID radio survey (survey six — three were dropped because of the pandemic) showed that in the most competitive (and lucrative) timeslot in the country — Sydney breakfast — Fordham won with audience share of 17.3%, just 0.6 percentage points behind Jones’s final result of 17.9% in survey two, and well ahead of ABC Sydney breakfast duo Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck, who had the biggest rise of any breakfast Sydney program with a jump of 1.6 percentage points to 12.5%.

2GB maintained its dominance with a 14.2% average share across all timeslots, ahead of ABC Sydney on 10.5%.

Smooth FM, owned by Lachlan Murdoch’s Nova, was Sydney’s top-rating FM station with an audience share of 9.9%, ahead of WSFM on 8.4%, Kiis on 8.2%, Nova on 6.6%.

2GB’s morning presenter Ray Hadley fell two percentage points to 16.8% and remains ahead of Smooth’s morning program on 10.8% and ABC Sydney on 9.4%. In drive, Smooth jumped to first place with 10.4%, but ABC’s Richard Glover was the top AM talk host with 10.2% and 2GB on 9.1% — perhaps feeling the loss of Fordham to breakfast.

Former Seven Network sports host Jim Wilson followed Fordham into drive. He lost 1.4% from Fordham’s final appearance in the slot.

But spare a thought for Jones.

He left 2GB in Sydney at the end of May on a high a share of 17.9% in his slot, one of the highest ratings for a year or more and 476,000 listeners.

The man left on a high, to end up at Sky News where last night his hour of raving averaged 80,000 national viewers on Sky News. That was a solid night as he added his bile to the line up of Sky’s After Dark barkers — Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and Paul Murray.

In Melbourne, the COVID-19 lockdowns pushed a radical change in listening habits, as people tuned in to AM talk stations. 3AW (owned by Nine) and the ABC had thousands of extra listeners following the vociferous debate about restrictions, led by Premier Daniel Andrews’ biggest media critic, 3AW morning host Neil Mitchell.

3AW breakfast pairing Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft (a newbie compared to Stevenson) saw their share surge to a massive 26.1%, one of the highest recorded for any timeslot in the history of ratings. The gain of 8.8 percentage points (from 17.3% in survey two) helped 3AW mornings host Neil Mitchell lift his share to 19.1%, a rise of 3.6 points. By afternoons and drive those gains had dissipated though. 3AW’s share jumped 3.3 percentage points to 17.7% from 14.4%.

At the ABC, Sammy J’s breakfast share jumped 3.1 points to 14.9% while Virginia Trioli’s share rose 2.7 points to 15.4%. Unlike 3AW, the ABC saw big gains in the afternoon, drive sessions and evening sessions.

ABC Melbourne’s share rose to 12.9% from 10.1%. ABC Melbourne was second overall and in the breakfast and morning slots behind 3AW.