KYLE Sandilands and Jackie O are set to jump to rival FM station Mix 106.5 in a deal worth a minimum of $ 1 million each a year.
Two days after the radio stars’ on-air announcement they had quit Southern Cross Austereo after a 10-year run, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the duo are in the final stages of negotiations with Mix 106.5’s broadcaster Australian Radio Network (ARN) that will see both returning to the breakfast timeslot next year.
It’s also understood their contracts – in which they will pocket slightly less than their earnings at 2DayFM – will increase as their audience grows. The deal is also believed to include one crucial sweetener: a weekly show airing via ARN’s affiliation with Clear Channel that would broadcast to 100 stations, including in the US, UK and the Middle East.
In Sydney, Sandilands and Jackie O – real name Jackie Henderson – will likely replace Mix 106.5’s current breakfast hosts, Yumi Stynes and Sami Lukis.
The signing will be a massive coup for broadcaster ARN, which is making inroads into the city’s tough radio market, courtesy of its other successful breakfast pairing of Jonesy and Amanda on sister station WSFM.
With the two big breakfast shows, combined with the continued slide of the once-dominant Southern Cross Austereo, the mantle of Sydney broadcast powerhouse will move swiftly to ARN in what one insider calls “the ultimate game changer”. On one hand, the youth market would flock to Mix 106.5 to listen to Kyle and Jackie O, while on the other, the older demographic would continue to tune in to Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller on WSFM.
“If this deal goes ahead, it will signal a new dominant force in radio, it’s as simple as that,” said a well-placed source privy to the inner working of this deal which has been several weeks in the making. “Kyle and Jackie O are a once-in-a-generation pairing.
“They’re up there with the best radio pairings in the world and there isn’t a radio executive who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to sign them.”
Talking exclusively to The Sunday Telegraph yesterday, ARN boss Ciaran Davis denied the deal was already done but admitted the duo would round out their broadcast arsenal.
“Kyle and Jackie O are a great team – one of the best breakfast shows in the world. They have a unique on-air dynamic that is very difficult to replicate, and on first glance we believe they could work well with our audiences,” Mr Davis said.
“It’s not often that talent of this calibre comes along and we would be mad not to see if we could get them on board.”
Meanwhile, Sandilands and Henderson – who sources say had no intentions of splitting – went about their weekend rituals yesterday, while refusing to weigh in on their impending deal with ARN. Sandilands, 42, and girlfriend Imogen Anthony were snapped driving his red Ferrari around St Ives, in Sydney’s north.
Henderson, 38, who told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday she was “feeling excited about the future, whatever that may bring”, was seen ducking into Paddington’s Valonz salon for a blow-dry.
Sandilands and Henderson’s jump to Mix 106.5 would end an already disastrous year for 2DayFM that saw its mantle as Sydney’s top-rating FM station reeled in for the first time in seven years by WSFM in April, when their market share dropped to 8.4 per cent to WSFM’s 8.5 per cent.
While 2DayFM regained the No. 1 spot, the network continued to be buffeted by major financial losses and terrible press as a result of the ongoing “nurse prank” scandal.
It didn’t help when SCA’s chairman Max Moore-Wilton dismissed the prank and the subsequent fallout – which included the suicide of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha – in a speech to shareholders last month saying: “Shit happens”. “Shit happens all right,” quipped an insider, who confirmed SCA’s other golden duo of Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have ruled out a return.