Nikole Gunn

1029 Hot Tomato ready for the Commonwealth Games to begin

After years of planning, the final preparations are being made for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Thousands of athletes from 70 Commonwealth nations will descend on the Goldie for two weeks of competition and it presents unique challenges for local media outlets.

1029 Hot Tomato news director Matt McDonald is anticipating a big two weeks for his team of full timers, casuals and digital staff.

It’s going to be flat out and no doubt, we’ll be stretched. It will essentially be all hands on deck for the period of the games.  We’ll be doing extended news bulletins across the day and across the weekend as well while the games are on”.

As a stand-alone radio operation, McDonald acknowledges there’ll be a fair bit of ‘cherry picking’ in their Commonwealth Games coverage. Striking the right balance will be key to covering the Games and other news events.

“I guess the key for us is not trying to be ‘everywhere’. Obviously, it’ll be so much more than just the ‘sport’ here. It’s the whole event, across the whole city”

“There’s so much other stuff happening that we need to be across. It’s the traffic and the transport, which is really key to all the people living on the Gold Coast – it’s the main thing they’re worried about at the moment”.

As for the sporting event itself, there’s only so much that can be covered and aired.

“We’ll be going to cover the big events, like the swimming and the athletics.  And there are a lot of local athletes competing in the Games. People like Sally Pearson, who’s a hometown hero.  We want to be there covering her journey through the Games”.

With events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, there’s the added difficulty of being a non-broadcast rights holder.  (Nova 106.9 was recently named as the official radio partner).

The rules are notoriously stringent on what audio can be used and when, where it can be gathered from and what can be ‘lifted’ from the TVs.  No slack is given to the ‘locals’ even in a smaller market like the Gold Coast.

“We’re pretty much bound by the same rules as non-rights holders.  There are no favours for us being the local radio station.  

We have to stick to the same guidelines as everybody else. Although, they don’t seem to be as strict as the Olympics.  But, obviously, there are restrictions in place”.

As for the ‘vibe’ on the Gold Coast, McDonald says the tourist hot spot has yet to get its Games’ party hat on, but doesn’t doubt it will kick into gear.

“I sense a fair bit of cynicism and I think that’s got a lot to do with the fear of how the Coast will cope and there are a lot of businesses that are very, very concerned about how they’ll operate during the games”.

“However, I think once we get closer to the start of the Games, we will see a lot more excitement.  I remember Sydney was exactly the same. As soon as the torch turned up, all of a sudden there was this change in attitude in the city and everyone was excited for the games to come.

So, I’m pretty sure that we’ll see that happen on the Gold Coast once get closer”.

The XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast kick off on April 4 and come to a close on April 15th and will be the fifth time that they’ve been held on Australian soil.

* Southern Cross Austereo was invited to be part of this story, but declined the invitation.

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