Is Lawrence Mooney the funniest man on Australian radio?
The departure of Matty Johns after 10 years on Triple M Sydney Breakfast cut a significant blow to Southern Cross Austereo at the end of 2018.
SCA decided to use the disruption to its advantage, replacing Johns with comedian and Triple M Brisbane host Lawrence Mooney in 2019.
The move harked back to Triple M Sydney’s history of comedy-driven Breakfast shows, with the chair previously graced by the likes of Doug Mulray and Andrew Denton in the ‘80s and ‘90s, to Marty Sheargold and Peter Berner in the 2000s.
Fresh off a fantastic run at Triple M Brisbane, where he helped The Big Breakfast with Marto, Robin & The Moonman to #1 in November of 2018, it was a no-brainer for SCA to shift Mooney to Sydney.
The comic previously had stints in his hometown at 774 ABC and 3AW, Australia’s unofficial comedy capital, and home to most of the networked shows on the radio today.
Other contenders for funniest man on radio would include Sam Pang, Mick Molloy, Kyle Sandilands, Dave Hughes and Tommy Little.
Mooney was teamed up with Jess Eva, Gus Warland (who has since left the show) and anchor Chris ‘Pagey’ Page, with the new show debuting on January 15 last year.
Any programmer knows that making changes to Breakfast lineups is always a challenge, and typically results in a ratings hit before you rebuild your share.
It’s no surprise that Sydney listeners have shown lots of love for The Moonman, and the show has steadily increased ratings since he started.
Those ratings have been impressive, starting with a 4.6% share of listening in Survey 1 of 2019, climbing to 6% (+0.5) by the second book of this year.
Given Triple M Melbourne’s heritage show with Eddie McGuire is currently on a 5.2% share, you’d think SCA executives would be more than happy with Mooney’s performance in Sydney.
He is well-known around Australia thanks to his live stand-up, as well as regular appearances on shows like Spicks & Specks, HYBPA, Hughesy We Have A Problem and The Project.
With his success in Brisbane, popularity and profile in Melbourne, and steady ratings growth in Sydney, could the Moonman be a contender for a networked Breakfast across the East Coast?
Triple M has experimented with networked Breakfast previously, with the aforementioned Sheargold and Berner hosting The Cage (which was based in Melbourne).
Network executives will certainly be pondering on how to reduce their cost bases even further after COVID19, and insiders told Radio Today earlier this year that at least one of the big three radio networks is planning to roll out a multi-market Breakfast show in 2021.
Triple M seems a good candidate, but with local sport an important part of their content strategy, there would need to be city-specific updates.
It would certainly make financial sense.