Jason Morrison is one of the great newsmen of our generation - have a look at this background.
2UE & 2GB have been solid commercial rivals for close to 90yrs. As of today, two of Australia's oldest radio stations have the same ownership. Go back a decade or two and what’s happened today would be as unimaginable as Channels 7 and 9 merging or Parramatta and Manly becoming the same team – but this is a move for survival.
Both stations need to reduce costs to maintain profitability, as the share of advertising revenue going to radio is not keeping pace with rising operational expenses.
That said, I think people who think 2UE will cease being a talk station are misreading the market.
Despite all that the management has done to the station over the years, 2UE’s share of 4 or 5% listenership likes what’s there – and if 2UE wasn’t a talk station, they may go elsewhere and probably not to 2GB. It’s too great a risk for to many listeners for the new partnership.
2UE has a cumulative audience across the week of about 270k versus 2GB’s 520k. That’s a stack of people to risk let going elsewhere.
My prediction; 2UE will remain a low-cost but better-managed talk station.
The best hope will be the end of the era of constant changes to the 2UE line-up. Talk radio is about familiar voices.
I’ve felt for UE programme directors Peter Brennan and Clinton Maynard who’ve had to watch as decisions were made ‘around them’ by consultants and so-called experts, often to the detriment of the station.
Even in the 3 years that I worked at the station, 14 changes to the primetime line-up were made – versus 2GB, which had made only one.
By contrast, 2UE’s weekend stars, George Moore and Paul B Kidd have been doing their great show for over a decade - largely untouched – and they are constantly number 1 in town. Not bad for two blokes on the number 7 station. There’s definitely something to that!
Sadly, the newsrooms again will probably end up feeling the impact of the merger the most. Radio newsrooms everywhere are under-resourced and the staff flog their guts out to cover the happenings in the country’s largest and wildest city.
Some sales and administration functions of the stations will probably be combined and that too will cause job losses.
Another prediction; 2CH will have to be sold but will continue to be operated by MRN but ‘controlled’ (as defined by legislation) by someone other than the present ownership – perhaps a friend of the present owner.
2CH has successfully ticked along as a budget operation for years. For much of the 90s (pre-Alan Jones) at 2GB, it was 2CH that actually propped-up the rest of the company financially.
2CH’s biggest fan is John Singleton who has always been very fond and supportive of the station.
22 years ago when 2MMM and 2DAY FM in Sydney merged, it stunned the radio industry. “How could two bitter rivals co-exist?” people asked. And, they’d only been up against each other for a decade!
Strange days indeed.