In the hot seat: Gunners appointed news presenter for Smooth FM Melbourne breakfast show


The job is new and so are the surrounds, and yet the territory couldn’t be more familiar for Nikole Gunn, in her new role as Breakfast news presenter at Melbourne’s Smooth FM 91.5.

‘Gunners’ – as she’s affectionately known throughout the industry – this year became a permanent part of the More Music Breakfast Show with Mike Perso following the departure of Jennifer Hansen.

But she’s certainly no stranger to the job.

Gunners was a founding member of the NOVA Melbourne news team at its inception, along with Carrie Bickmore (who turned 21 on the day of the launch), Patrina Jones, Rebecca Maddern, Heidi Murphy and Adam Johnson.

Gunners returned to NOVA Entertainment in 2017 after stints at ARN and SCA.

She was primarily the back up for Hansen, also filling in while Hansen was away or covering other markets when required.

Gunners tells Radio Today she’s enjoying being in the hot seat.

“What’s made it easier is that I haven’t come into it as a ‘newbie.’ I’ve been part of the team for almost six years. Not only am I doing a role that I am used to, I am also a familiar voice to the Smooth listener.”

“It helps that I’ve known Mike Perso forever, so there’s a friendship there.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Perso is a fellow Carlton supporter.

“We ride the highs and lows all season,” she says.

Having notched up almost 36 years in the industry, Gunners is not only regarded as one of the best and most experienced newsreaders in the country, she is known for her generosity, having mentored and guided countless young journalists through the minefield that can be radio.

And after all this time, Gunners still loves the rush that comes with breaking a story.

“I know it sounds nerdy and competitive, but there is a certain level of satisfaction when you find a story and get onto it before everyone else.”

“In this new role, I get to ‘own’ what I do. I also try not to just regurgitate what everyone else is doing or wait for a media release to land in my inbox.”

“I just love news and engaging with Smooth listeners.”

Gunners was the first person inside the Nova 100 newsroom in Victoria Street, Richmond back in 2001 and the last person to leave it in late 2022.

“It was a bit emotional. There have been a lot of good memories and a lot of good people have walked through those doors.”

Gunners was also the first person to read the news from NOVA’s new home in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne.

She’s loving the new digs.

“It’s been great – natural light and an official ‘weather window’. The old set up had us in the middle of the station – so natural light is a revelation!”

“The Melbourne team has built us a beautiful station. There is a great energy to the place with the refit. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Gunners says the engineers have outdone themselves.

“They’ve done an amazing job to move us over and get us on air. They deserve so much praise.”

It’s no secret that breakfast radio is a hard slog. Which begs the question – how is Gunners coping with the early alarm these days?

“The universe has been laughing at my expense for years. By nature, I’m a night owl, but I have spent the majority of my radio life doing breakfast radio. I have perfected the art of ‘nana naps’ while I have the house to myself so, I’m relatively refreshed by the time everyone is home.”

During her three-plus decades in radio, Gunners has seen newsrooms evolve from typewriters, reel-to-reels and carts to fully integrated digital systems.

There have been many highlights over the journey, and stories forever seared into her memory.

“The news cycle is so much shorter than ‘back in the day’ and there is a real churn and burn with news, but there will always the stories that will stick in your head and most involve tragedy – Princess Diana, the Black Saturday bushfires, the Moorabbin police murders, 9-11, the Bali bombings … the list goes on.”

There is a personal ‘pinch yourself’ moment that stands out:

“I met Nelson Mandela. It wasn’t for long, but it was impactful.”

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rob grant
15 Feb 2023 - 11:06 am

what an excellent appointment

15 Feb 2023 - 1:27 pm

Gunners is sounding great with Mike. You can definitely tell the difference in their onair rapport now they are physically in the same place.

Rob McLennan
15 Feb 2023 - 1:58 pm

One of the best in the business and what a perfect voice for Nova. Points of for the Carlton thing but I guess nobody is perfect. Nova has backed a winner with you Gunners!

Ronnie Stanton
21 Feb 2023 - 9:42 am

Gunners is truly one of the best.


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