SCA’s Hit Network axes 19 regional breakfast shows
A number of the Hit Network’s regional breakfast show lineups have received their marching orders following a major cost-cutting restructure, Radio Today can reveal.
Of the 41 FM services within Australia’s largest radio network – there are 50 Hit stations – over half will soon be without local breakfast shows, adopting the Western Australia approach.
The affected breakfast hosts are being redeployed where possible, but some will depart.
Southern Cross Austereo announced the changes this afternoon after Radio Today reported on Wednesday that multiple announcers from Hit stations were told to “expect the worst”.
The hosts, who spoke with Radio Today on the condition of anonymity, said breakfast show talent from Hit regional stations across the country all received an “uncomfortable email” this week.
In the emails – some of which were cited by this writer – the impacted staffers were instructed to attend a post-show meeting after their shift on Thursday to discuss potential changes.
Some of those presenters then confirmed their redundancies with me on Thursday morning. The changes to take effect from August 24 according to a statement from SCA.
Coverage map of SCA’s media assets across its radio and television businesses.
The SCA-owned stations now plan to syndicate one breakfast show per state to most regional stations, in a landmark move that leaves some communities without a local brekkie team.
In NSW, broadcast from Hit101.3 Central Coast, the Gawndy & Ash Pollard breakfast show with Daniel Gawned and Ash Pollard, will be heard across most regional NSW-based stations.
In Victoria, broadcast from Hit104.9 in Albury, the Tim & Jess breakfast show with Tim Bolch and Jess Pantou will expand to be on air across all regional Victorian Hit stations.
In Queensland, on SCA’s Hit regional stations, the Cliffo & Gabi breakfast show with Guy Clifton and Gabi Elgood will now be heard statewide and broadcast from Hit103.1 Townsville.
In South Australia, the new SAFM Adelaide breakfast show, Bec, Cosi & Lehmo with Rebecca Morse, Andrew Costello and Anthony Lehmann will be heard on SAFM Mount Gambier.
Hit in regional Western Australia continues to broadcast the statewide Allan & Michelle breakfast show with Allan Aldsworth and Michelle Anderson.
Breakfast shows in Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Hobart will remain unchanged.
Ash Pollard and Daniel Gawned will host Hit NSW regional breakfast.
SCA’s national Triple M network will continue to “remain dedicated to everything local” by broadcasting existing breakfast shows across its 38 regional stations.
SCA content boss Dave Cameron said the business has “adapted to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 environment” and, as a result, will “deliver a different programming model”.
Cameron thanked the dedicated and talented people affected by the new approach and said SCA is actively looking for redeployment opportunities for some roles.
An SCA spokesperson declined to confirm how many workers are leaving the business.
Content quotas require three hours of local programming daily. To meet the requirement, Radio Today understands workdays will return to having local presenters in most markets.
In May peak body Commercial Radio Australia asked the Federal Government for relief from the current local content regulation for the 220 stations broadcasting in regional areas.
SCA was one of 107 regional media outlets to share in a $50 million fund committed to supporting regional news services in June. SCA pocketed “approximately $10 million”.
SCA content boss Dave Cameron said SCA has adapted to pandemic-induced challenges.
As first reported by Radio Today, SCA announced a brand refresh earlier this month. Cameron said the new look and music strategy was “a new starting line” for Hit.
Talking exclusively to this writer last month, Cameron, and network boss Gemma Fordham, said Hit’s new strategy represents a broader product and content approach.
“We are moving from being an under 40 network to a 30 to 54 demo, still a female skewed network but broad enough for all. It’ll still be a pop-based format,” Cameron told me.
“This is a direct reflection of where we see advertising money and briefs come through, which is to an older, broader audience. And we feel like we have a really strong point of difference here.
“You will see and hear us take a different approach to the way we’re putting our music together, to our messaging on-air. It’s a broader appeal to what we have done in the last five or six years.
“It’s certainly not the finishing line for us, this is a new starting line for us,” Cameron said.