Since ABC management installed Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah in the breakfast slot after axing Red Symons the program has dropped to a 40 year low

Between 5.30am and 7.45am, Parsons and Shah attract 7 per cent of available listeners, less than half the 14.2 per cent Symons claimed in his final survey. This represents ABC Melbourne’s smallest breakfast share since at least 1975…

Naturally the question had to be asked “What role did middle aged white men play in all this?”

Throughout its 94-year-history, ABC’s line-up has been dominated by middle-aged white men.

More on that in a moment.

Yet its charter compels it to reflect Melbourne’s diversity; something it’s closer to achieving since Parsons and Shah were appointed.

Actually no.

This is not a decision which – as used to be said when I was there – is “audience led”.

It’s a politically correct move made in the name of “inclusivity”, but if the program were to be truly inclusive in a market where the dominant language is English, it would have presenters with clear speaking voices and neutral accents who could be easily understood by listeners from diverse backgrounds.

Mr. Shah apparently inspires mixed reactions.

Some have said he’s about as funny as an open grave.

But humour is subjective.

His material could be as actually laugh-out-loud-side-splitting as when Chairman Justin Milne says there is no bias at the ABC

But if people find it a chore trying to understand what he has to say they’ll go elsewhere – and they have.

Radio is pretty basic in that way.

As for middle aged white men, relevant Director Michael Mason would surely fall into that category, so apparently those middle aged white men are still involved.

He’s no doubt found it in his (short term) career interest to go in the direction he has, but the executive strata at the ABC is populated with fierce competitors who won’t miss the chance to hold this against him if they can.

I won’t bother repeating them here, but if you enjoy excuses of the Sir Humphrey Appleby Yes Minister kind by all means read the entire piece by Michael Lallo.

To be fair, it’s not just ABC middle management who make with the la la land excuses.

Morning presenter Jon Faine has been quoted as saying he believes a narrow focus on ratings is misguided. “It’s in our charter, and it’s part of our DNA, to do more than just try to be popular,” he says. “I could rate higher if I did a quiz, or if I did more sport or went down market. But that would be letting down our values” 

Just keep telling yourself that Jon.

It brought back some wonderful memories for me.

I used to hear those exact comments when I was at the ABC the first time around forty years ago.

Although I do recall The Age writing that my national program on Sunday mornings was “popular without letting the side down”.

So perhaps it can be done?


One thought on “ABC BREAKFAST RADIO HAS CRASHED TO A 40 YEAR LOW – Fairfax headline. 

  1. Living in Sydney, one is not able to dx or skip listen (due to the ionosphere’s conditions) 774 (3LO) that late in the morning in order to listen to his program.

    Nevertheless, there is a well known announcer (Mr John Laws) who said in a flyspray commercial “….When you’re on a good thing, stick to it….” Mr Symons was rating well, but was inexplicably dismissed from his job . Since his dismissal, his replacements nearly halved the listening audience from 14.4 to 7.4..

    It is not the first time that successful radio presenters have been dismissed and consequently the radio station’s ratings failed. Look at the gradual decline of 2UE from 1999 till it morphed into a ‘talking lifestyle’ format then into a sporting talk format in 2018.Another example was a well known popular Adelaide radio newsreader suddenly dismissed from her job due to ‘economic’ reasons.

    Tall poppy excisions are not unique to radio. It has happened in law where the biggest earner for the firm still gets the chop. Possibly it may be due to personality clashes between the subordinate and superior. That is may be one reason but not the only reason.

    The passing of Mr Symons’ son Joel is so close to his dismissal at 774 (3LO). They are two blows in Mr Symon’s and his family. When it comes to employment, one questions what it means to do a good job and being loyal to your employer and inexplicably lose your job. For the passing of his son, one has to go to whatever faith in the belief that there is a life beyond this earthly domain and that Joel is in the presence of God.

    Thank you,
    Anthony of Belfield


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