THE FM radio dial is about to change profoundly.
“Simply put,” Craig Bruce, head of content at Southern Cross Austereo, said yesterday, “we’re at the end of an era for pop radio.”
His observation came hours after broadcast superstars Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O quit their Sydney breakfast radio show after a phenomenal six years and 50 ratings surveys at No.1.
Sandilands announced: “Jackie and I have decided that we will not be returning … in 2014 and that’s not an easy decision.”
His co-host, whose real name is Jackie Henderson, added: “We’ve always been adamant that we would leaveat a time of our choosing. This is a big step for us.
“We feel we’ve achieved everything … and it’s time for us to start a new chapter in our lives.”
But their shock revelation comes amid an interesting season of change and upheaval in radio land.
Kate Langbroek and Dave Hughes declared they were pulling the pin on their top-rating NOVA 100 breakfast show, after 12 years.
Hughes told listeners in September: “It’s been a massive decision. We have decided everything together.”
A few weeks later, FOX FM’s Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley, a once dominant force in breakfast radio, but now on the slide, said they were walking away from their popular Matt & Jo Show.
Stanley said: “I think we are, after 10 years, ready for new challenges, to leap into the wide blue yonder and go, ‘Wow, what can we do now?'”
Merrick Watts was left asking the same question when his show, Triple M’s Merrick Watts and The Highway Patrol, with Julian Schiller and Rachel Corbett, was cancelled. The axing came five days after Matt & Jo called it quits.
Watts said: “It’s disappointing that it will be coming to an end.”
Sandilands, Henderson, Langbroek, Hughes, Tilley, Stanley and Watts will do their last shows on November 29.
Meanwhile, new hosts and hopefuls are rallying around the radio dial.
Tommy Little and Meshel Laurie will take over breakfast at NOVA.
“Change brings opportunities to create great content and a connection with audiences,” dmg group program director Paul Jackson said yesterday. “It is a very exciting time in radio.”
Industry whispers cite Jules Lund and Sophie Monk as potential FOX drivetime hosts.
SCA’s Craig Bruce said: “Breakfast shows, certainly for younger FM brands, have a life cycle.
“While we’re sad to see some great shows finish, we’re also really excited about the quality of new talent coming through.”
Langbroek says she is trying not to be sad about a closing chapter.
“We don’t dwell in nostalgia,” Langbroek said. “It’s important to reflect, but that can be overwhelming.
“I alternate. Some days, I’m high as a kite and planning a family trip overseas. Other days, I’m like: ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen when we hand everything over?
“But it’s a chance for everyone to renew. It’s a time to be brave.”