The last time I heard the word emasculated in a radio station was over 30 years ago. And I had to consult a dictionary. An enterprising PD (Program Director for Millenials) at the then chronically under-resourced 7AD Devonport swapped some unwanted record stock for a record player for the station’s library. But when the branded vinyl began popping up at a second hand store a member of the family which owned the network was most unimpressed with the “emasculation” of the station’s music library.
According to a few industry experts the once rightwing Sydney based broadcasting powerhouse 2GB has also been emasculated. But the alleged neutering is not in the station’s record library. It’s its raison d’etre , its talkers.
2GB, now part of the rebranded Nine media family which includes the perennial Melbourne ratings dominator 3AW, has apparently become burdened by the weight of relentless rightwing ranting, to the extent that the new owners are ‘re-positioning’ the station in order to attract a younger female audience.
Recovering night-time rightwing ranter/infomercial wizard Steve Price, who recently replaced the punted afternoon lightweight loudmouth Chris Smith, was quickly punted himself. Price is to be replaced in 2020 by Deb Knight, freshly punted herself from Nine’s Today breakfast TV settee.
Meanwhile, down south at 3AW the inoffensive former Young Talent Timer Denis Walter was “reclocated” from his longtime afternoon slot to nights to make way for another female presenter Dee Dee Dunleavy in 2020.
Will the “emasculation” of commercial talk radio be successful? Not at 2GB at least and 3AW is a vastly different beast. As different to 2GB as Melbourne is to Sydney.
One longtime Sydney talk radio insider is not optimistic about ratings sucess with the new touch, suggesting “nice doesn’t get numbers “.
People listen to 2GB for the hate it radiates. Melbournians have been accustomed to 3AW’s balanced, intelligent and quality talk back broadcasting for decades and don’t seem to have a problem with “ladies” on the wireless.
Already 2GB’s Ray Hadley, diligently striving to project himself as a softer, kinder human being after one too many bullying incidents, is losing audience share. The former racecaller ended 2018 with a healthy 17.9% share of the Sydney mob. But ended this year with a much softer 13.8%.
And the unchallenged headmaster of the school of shockjocks Alan Jones spent most of 2019 witnessing his once almost 20% audience share vapourise. He also has the humiliating, for him, “one more slip of your acid tongue and you’re out” caveat hanging over his head.
While 3AW’s numbers appear to be stable, putting a stockinged ‘sock in it’ at 2GB is going to be problematic and radically recalibrating the right wing ranting richter scale will be tricky.