SCOOP: Hit Network music head Irene Hulme exits SCA amid layoffs

Former Publisher

Seasoned programmer Irene Hulme has left Southern Cross Austereo, Radio Today can reveal.

Hulme was responsible for music across the SCA-owned Hit Network and is thought to be the most senior departure as the company cuts up to 90 jobs this week.

An SCA spokesperson confirmed her departure with Radio Today on Wednesday (December 4).

Touted by many in the radio biz as a “true stalwart”, she has a long history in programming, talent and music. She is also widely respected among music industry circles.

Hulme has previously held senior content roles at Australian Radio Network and NOVA Entertainment.

She was promoted to a new position within SCA in November last year, assuming the role of head of music for Hit & Triple M networks.

Four months later, her role was reduced to Hit’s 42 metro, regional and DAB+ stations after Mickey Maher moved from regional content boss to oversee music on the Triple M Network.

Radio Today understands that Maher will remain with SCA and is tasked with overseeing music across both the Hit and Triple M networks following Hulme’s shock departure.

Southern Cross Austereo

SCA’s new head of music, Mickey Maher

While talking to Radio Today at the 2019 Radio Alive Conference, SCA chief executive Blackley said that music represents about 60% or more of the schedule.

To better serve listeners, his solution was to “appoint a head of music for both the Hit and Triple M networks, in Irene Hulme and Mickey Maher”.

But declining metro radio revenue has forced the business to make drastic changes to survive.

After news broke of the redundancies, the company’s shares dropped 3.68% overnight. However, many analysts expect the market to react favourably to the cost savings in quarters to come.

Rumours are also circulating as to the future of its top programmers – Hit’s Gemma Fordham and Triple M’s Mike Fitzpatrick. Radio Today is told they are remaining with SCA.

Multiple sources have also told Radio Today that an announcement on the appointment of a new chief programming officer is imminent. Many are speculating, with some certainty, that now-former NZME executive Dean Buchanan has landed the role.

Buchanan was spotted sitting behind Blackley at the 2019 ARIA Awards last week, according to trade site Media Week.

Other confirmed casualties of the restructure include Triple M Australia By Night host, Stephen Cenatiempo, and SCA Fraser Coast content director, Lee Bevington.

One departing staffer told Radio Today on Tuesday that the company had “lost its soul”, a sentiment shared by multiple past and present employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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Not there anymore
4 Dec 2019 - 2:36 pm

It’s so sad seeing what is happening to – what used to be – a great place to work before the SC took over.

4 Dec 2019 - 3:20 pm

Typical the female gets the chop.

4 Dec 2019 - 4:50 pm

Micky Mojo he is a gun

Irene Fan
4 Dec 2019 - 5:12 pm

Everyone is shocked, this makes absolutely no sense!!

Irene is one of the most talented and passionate people to work in the radio industry.

Why would SCA lose her?? Everyone at SCA and in the music industry think so highly of her , and she has been an outstanding and caring mentor to many.

Bet nova, ARN and the labels are all right now trying to woo her.

Irene fan, one of many!!

4 Dec 2019 - 5:27 pm

Excellent move for Mickey – best person for the job right there!

4 Dec 2019 - 10:42 pm

This is a cost cutting exercise! Irene’s an all round programer who could step into any role and smash it. Mickey is just a good music guy. Irene is worth a lot more because of what she brings to the table and her salary would have reflected that. I would have found the money to keep her and her experience in more then just music. Pay peanuts get monkeys.

Bet Dean Buchanan is wondering what the hell he is walking into.

This once unbeatable network looks now unsalvageable.

Scott Thomson
5 Dec 2019 - 6:43 pm

Lisa Wilkinson is available to do the breakfast show on 2DAY for $2.5 million a year if Grant is interested

Andy Grace
5 Dec 2019 - 11:11 pm

No anonymity here! Rene is a goddess. What a shocker to see her go!
Mickey Maher is a great guy and very good operator. Good to see him recognised.
Fitzy is a master so hope he stays.

The rest, well I’m five years out of the daily running of the biz so how would I know, but my ears tell me something’s really wrong. It’s nearly 2020 but turn the radio on and it still sounds like 2002 or even earlier.

My worthless opinion again: the legacy commercial electronic media industry is now two consecutive negative quarters from an unmitigated disaster, and globally that may now be out of your hands with effective negative real rates already and the US Fed struggling to keep liquidity in the banking system. NATO’s splitting down the middle and China’s the 10,000 pound gorilla about to call their bluff in Yuan.

You’ve wasted far, far too much time and money on quarter-to-quarter cashflow, treating other radio stations as your enemies, pinching talent at silly multiples like back in the 80s. That horribly insular view has allowed the global web powerhouses to become our go-to destinations for everything. Where are you now reading this diatribe?

It was a no brainer to leverage the immense collective brand value radio had as a medium to turn it into a rich, two-way, social, multimedia experience. Instead you reinvented AM stereo and extra content on FM subcarriers – in digital but unidirectional in a now totally bidirectional media world.

Thank heavens for the ABC. At least they’ve been inspirational in some of their holistic digital initiatives.

Oh and it sounds like a big ‘welcome back’ to the Kiwi Cheshire Cat! LOL! I wonder how deep that rabbit hole goes?

Former PD
6 Dec 2019 - 12:16 am

It seems the so called high flying networks these days are following the Bill Caralis radio models…who would of thought! Sad.

In Australia, they let you buy more stations to create a mega business and in the end, all they do is look to cut costs to save money.

The five station ownership rule should have been implemented long ago for diversity, job retention and creation across the board. As it stands, there is little regulation and minimal quotas for anything in the industry.

These companies are only driven by buying more to hoard licenses to kill off potential competition and then slashing expenditure to maximise profits. Listeners ultimately lose out and the discarded talent end up eating baked beans and driving a taxi.

13 Dec 2019 - 11:17 am

“lost its soul” – that has to be the understatement of the year!!!

Over the last 15 years I’ve witnessed the slow and gradual death of whatever shred of soul remained within SCA, the place is a bland place to work!


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