The 10 Most Powerful Women on Australian FM Radio in 2020

Staff Writer

Here are the Top 10 Most Powerful Women on Australian Radio in 2020.

Among Radio Today‘s most popular lists have always been those that celebrate and champion the women of our industry.

These ten remarkable women (and the honourable mentions that follow) have real star power. They are engaging, smart, assertive, driven and brilliant communicators. They deliver the laughs and the ratings five days a week, and are leading the way for other women to succeed in the radio industry.

Radio Today spent considerable time talking to industry experts and factored in the thoughts of leading radio programmers about who they consider being in the Top 10. We also factored in the thoughts of leading radio consultants and took into account market size and the competitive landscape.

There has been some movement on the list compared with 2019’s edition, and a new face in Susie O’Neill, while former Hit Network Drive host Kate Longbroek no longer works in radio full-time, and as a result drops out of the Top 10.

The result is a list of women who are successful, have had great ratings success and longevity, those who have built a strong local and national profile and, most importantly, women who have a strong message.

It is a list of which the industry can be proud:


1. Jackie ‘O’ Henderson – KIIS 106.5

s undoubtedly one of the most high-profile and successful media personalities in Australia, and her Breakfast show with Kyle Sandilands remains dominant among FM brands in Sydney. The pair moved from 2DayFM to KIIS in 2013.

In 2019 her media profile went to new heights as she appeared as a judge on newly minted Ten reality show The Masked Singer, having previously appeared on Big Brother, Popstars, Australian Princess, The Nation, Surprise Gotcha, Robots and Ground Zero.

Henderson started out in radio in regional markets on the Gold Coast and in Canberra. She was later on 2DayFM nights with Sandilands before moving to Breakfast in 2005.

She is well known nationally via the ARN-syndicated Hour of Power and also hosted Take 40 Australia, Hot Hits, The A-List and the Hot 30 Countdown.


2. Chrissie Swan – Nova 100

Chrissie Swan got started in copywriting before appearing on television in 2003 as a contestant on the reality TV series Big Brother, where she was the runner-up.

She landed a start in Breakfast radio in Queensland in late 2003 where she worked at Hot 91.1 with co-host Ronnie Stanton. Swan also worked on-air at Vega and Mix 101.1 (now KIIS).

Swan has hosted the Chrissie, Sam & Browny on Nova 100 with Jonathan Brown and Sam Pang since 2015, and the show hit #1 on FM in Melbourne in 2019.

She also continues to appear on TV. Having been a contestant on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, Swan also serves as a fill-in host on Have You Been Paying Attention?


3. Amanda Keller – WSFM

A triple threat in Australian showbiz, Keller is a journalist, radio presenter and TV personality.

Starting in radio in Bathurst, she did Breakfast with Andrew Denton on Triple M from 1994 and is in her 16th year at WSFM, currently hosting WSFM Breakfast with Brendan Jones.

Keller has plenty of experience on TV too, racking up appearances on Good News Week, Rove Live, The Glass House, 20 to 1, Spicks and Specks, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Show Me the Movie and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

She received a Gold Logie nomination last year for her work on The Living Room and Dancing With The Stars.


4. Carrie Bickmore – Hit Network

Carrie Bickmore has been a staple of Australian radio and TV for over a decade, and is a Gold Logie winner.

She currently co-hosts the Carrie & Tommy Drive show across Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network with comedian Tommy Little, while appearing on Ten’s daily light news show The Project.

Bickmore has a journalism degree from Curtin University of Technology, and started her career as a newsreader on 92.9FM Perth. In 2001 she became the Afternoons newsreader for Nova 100 in Melbourne, before landing a gig co-hosting Drive with Andy Ross in 2002.

In 2007, Bickmore was appointed the breakfast newsreader for Hughesy & Kate on Nova 100 Breakfast.


5. Kate Ritchie – Nova Network

Another Gold Logie winner, Kate Ritchie featured on Seven’s iconic soap Home & Away, joining Merrick & Rosso on Nova 96.9 Breakfast in 2007.

Ritchie left Nova in 2009, to return to acting but later came back to radio after the departure of Meshel Laurie.

She has since combined with Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell on the hugely successful and national Kate, Tim & Marty Drive show.

Kate, Tim & Marty have enjoyed great ratings success and many industry awards and accolades, including multiple Best On Air (Metro FM) ACRA Awards.


6. Jane Kennedy – Triple M Network

Kennedy is an Australian actress, comedian, radio presenter, and television producer, best known for her work with TV production company Working Dog.

She got her start in radio working as a newsreader on EON FM Melbourne’s The D Generation Breakfast show, before officially joining the cast of the show.

She is now in her third year as the co-host of Triple M National Drive with Mick Molloy.

Kennedy has appeared on The Panel, and is a regular guest and occasional host of Ten’s Have You Been Paying Attention?


7. Abby Burdon – Hit105

Abby Burdon (nee Coleman) first rose to fame by finishing runner-up of the Australian version of The Mole as an 18-year-old, before appearing on the ABC’s Couch Potato and as a fill-in weather presenter on Nine’s Weekend Today.

She began presenting afternoons on SAFM (now Hit107) in 2009, before heading to Sydney as an announcer, filling in as a presenter for The Hot 30 Countdown.

Burdon would then move to Brisbane in 2011 to co-host the Stav, Abby & Matt breakfast show with Stav Davidson and Matty Acton.

The show has spent several surveys as the #1 Breakfast show in the city over that time.


8. Fifi Box – Fox FM

Fifi Box got her radio start in regional markets, including gigs in Port Macquarie, Trarlgon and Warragul, before landing a Late Night gig on Melbourne’s TTFM (now KIIS 101.1).

Box joined Triple M nights, before working on The Shebang from 2003 to 2008. A role as a weather presenter on Sunrise followed, before she returned to radio in 2010 to host the Fifi & Jules National Drive on the Today Network with Jules Lund.

Next up was a co-hosting gig with Dave Thornton in 2014 on Fox FM Breakfast, with Brendan Fevola to join in 2016. The show would go on to regularly hold the title of Melbourne’s #1 FM Breakfast show, with Byron Cooke joining in place of Thornton.

Box is also well known on television, as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars in 2007 and guest appearances, The Project, Thank God You’re Here and Have You Been Paying Attention?


9. Robin Bailey – 97.3FM

Robin Bailey is a stalwart of the Australian media industry with more than 20 years of media experience.

Starting in Sydney as a journalist, she has worked in most metro markets, and recently returned to Brisbane’s 97.3FM as the Robin, Terry & Bob was revamped.

She has also hosted successful shows on Brisbane’s B105 and Triple M Breakfast shows.

Having moved from ARN’s 97.3FM to Triple M in 2017 to join Ed Kavalee and Greg Martin for the Ed, Marto & Robin breakfast show, Bailey was later joined by Lawrence ‘Moonman’ Mooney’, then Nick Cody on the network.

Bailey also appears as a regular guest on the national Nine’s Weekend Today.


10. Susie O’Neil – Nova 106.9

Known initially for her feats of sporting prowess, Susie O’Neill won 35 Australian swimming titles and has the third most Olympic medals.

Her media career began as a commentator at the 2006 Commonwealth Games where she worked for the ABC.

Susie O’Neil is a new edition to the list for 2020, recognised for her work on top rating Nova 106.9 Breakfast show Ash, Kip & Luttsy with Susie O’Neil.


Just outside the top ten are some talented names worth an honourable mention.

Veronica Milson, who has just announced her departure from triple j, PJ Harding from KIIS 101.1 Melbourne, Jodie Oddy from Mix 102.3 Adelaide, Sarah McGilvray from Nova 96.9 Sydney, Nat Locke from Nova Perth, Katie ‘Monty’ Dimond, Laura O’Callaghan from Fresh 92.7 Adelaide, Yumi Stynes from ARN’s 3pm Pick-Up, Lisa and Sarah of Those Two Girls, Former Hit Weekend host Tanya Hennessey, Triple M Brisbane’s Margaux Parker and Triple M Sydney’s Jess Eva.

We look forward to your comments and feedback and mention any names we should be looking out for in the future.

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Recent comments (18)
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Marina
11 Feb 2020 - 9:10 am

Good Tanya got a mention shame she’s not in radio anymore.Now on reality TV, oh well.
Nice to see Those Two Girls get mentioned, Gemma’s on the money with those two.

Paul
11 Feb 2020 - 9:31 am

FiFi Box and Foxfm have tanked in the ratings but why is FiFi relegated to number 8.
She used to be terrific on air and Im sure still is despite the low ratings.

Jenny
11 Feb 2020 - 10:26 am

Carrie should be at one.

John
11 Feb 2020 - 10:29 am

Good to see top names are breakfast hosts. Hardest job in radio. Afternoons and Drive make very little difference to ratings and not that hard to do. Full credit to all the breakfast hosts mentioned.

Chris
11 Feb 2020 - 10:41 am

So the top 10… plus…every other woman in metro radio as honourable mention. Righto.

Andrew F
11 Feb 2020 - 10:41 am

Chrissy (a state based personality with a show that occasionally does well in the ratings) above Kate Ritchie and Carrie Bickmore whose shows are national and frequently top the ratings…..

Interesting.

Geoff
11 Feb 2020 - 11:32 am

Should be breakfast names only like comparing apples and oranges.

EP
11 Feb 2020 - 12:09 pm

Andrew – easy to understand why breakfast show talent rank higher here, earn more etc Breakfast drives station ratings. Simple. Drive shows come and go and whilst good for revenue generation don’t drive station ratings. Sorry but do the math mate.

Lisa
12 Feb 2020 - 7:02 am

Why wouldn’t you do Top Ten People on Air rather than men or women.

Please explain.
12 Feb 2020 - 11:10 am

I reckon you need to define the word ‘powerful’.

Chris
12 Feb 2020 - 7:25 pm

Can we all agree for about 3 minutes that Jackie O is probably one of the least “powerful” women on that list.
She has ridden the coast tails of exceptional broadcasters firstly in ugly Phil and then Kyle. She is just a voice Of reason (most times) to bounce off For him. The other 9 on your list and certainly some of the honourable mentions carry their shows And are the stars of theirs moreso than Jackie is or ever has been. If Amanda or Carrie or Kate wanted to walk the cheque book would come out, if Jackie wanted to walk and Kyle wanted to stay it would end very differently in my opinion.

S
12 Feb 2020 - 8:18 pm

Do regional…. tired of only cap city featuring on everything here. Regional matters.

LeofromFreo
13 Feb 2020 - 10:25 am

Not “interesting”, not “relatable”, not even “entertaining” but “powerful”.
This fantasy is getting tiring.

Sam
13 Feb 2020 - 12:02 pm

Can you only think of ten.

Anon
14 Feb 2020 - 9:25 am

More like east coast FM radio.

Nat Locke should be on this list. She’s been at Nova 93.7 in Perth since the beginning (2002) and the breakfast show has been a powerhouse for years now. Her influence is hugely underrated.

journeyman
15 Feb 2020 - 10:33 am

No Fran Kelly? This isn’t a serious list.

Craig
15 Feb 2020 - 2:29 pm

Nice to see Jody and Nat get mentioned even though they are very small markets, Adelaide and Perth.

Bruce
17 Feb 2020 - 6:38 pm

Powerful? their future is just about as shaky as everybody else in the industry.

influential yes! Entertaining yes!… powerful? yeah no

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