Nova scraps local workdays in Brisbane and Adelaide [exclusive]

Former Publisher

Announcers from Nova Brisbane and Adelaide joined the unemployment queue last week after the radio network decided to scrap local workdays in those markets, Radio Today can reveal.

As part of the changes, Nova Brisbane announcers Katie Mattin and Jack Tree, and Nova Adelaide announcers Rosie Panetta and Jarrod Walsh, will depart the business or possibly be redeployed.

Radio Today understands all four presenters were notified after the shifts last Friday.

In Brisbane and Sydney, DC will host mornings with Smallzy on afternoons, and, in Adelaide and Melbourne, Jamie Row will front mornings while Mel Tracina tackles the afternoon shift.

Listening to Nova Brisbane and Sydney this afternoon (September 8) with Smallzy, it appears some localised breaks form part of the new strategy, along with shared playlists on both stations.

Row and Tracina will be familiar to Adelaide listeners, having been heard on-air across Nova 919.

Nova Perth will remain local, with Ross Wallman on mornings and Katie Lamb on afternoons.

Radio Today contacted Nova today for comment, who did confirm some changes, with the network’s programming and marketing boss, Paul Jackson, acknowledging the departures.

“It’s been a tough time for all media industries during COVID and as a result we’ve reviewed every aspect of our business, including programming, to ensure we continue to deliver our listeners with the best content, announcers and shows, in the most efficient way,” Jackson said.

“As a result of this review we’ve looked carefully at all our Nova workday announcers and unfortunately this has resulted in some talented broadcasters being made redundant.

“It is always difficult to make these types of decisions when they impact great broadcasters and we don’t make these changes lightly. I would like to thank all of the announcers affected for their hard work and passion and wish them the best for the future.”

Pictured: Nova’s marketing and programming boss, Paul Jackson.

As first reported by Radio Today on August 11, NOVA Entertainment revealed plans to reduce its headcount by about 70 employees in an effort to reduce overhead expenditure by 9%.

The company’s outgoing CEO, Cathy O’Connor, said the network will redeploy some affected staffers into other roles and that all departing employees would be paid above their entitlements.

The seasoned executive revealed her plans to exit radio after accepting the top job at outdoor business oOh!media, making way for Peter Charlton to become Nova’s new CEO.

Staffers assigned to the Nova-owned millennial news portal Goat also lost their jobs last month. As first reported by Radio Today, about five of the editorial team were made redundant.

It’s not the first time that Nova has dabbled in a “non-networking” offering. In late 2017 we revealed the broadcaster’s plans to beam ex-host Greg Burns into multiple markets.

That experiment also resulted in some job losses, and a ratings dive. By the time Nova abandoned the plan, mornings were down about 1.5 points in Brisbane and 2.0 points in Adelaide.

Both stations returned to local programming in June 2018 with a new greatest hits music format.

Pictured: Nova’s pop culture brand Goat will double down on podcasting.

One former programmer told Radio Today the new strategy plays right into Spotify’s hands.

“The two key things radio has against the streaming giant is talent and the opportunity to be local, and they are just handing that over,” the source, who asked not to be named, said.

“Why would they make this move right now when the audience is supposedly flocking to daytime radio and replace the offering with a more inferior networked product?”

According to insights shared by peak body Commercial Radio Australia, radio listening during the workday jumped considerably in April as more Australian’s remain at home during the pandemic.

On weekdays, TSL between 9am and 4pm jumped by just over an hour compared to the same period before restrictions and increased by over 35 minutes on weekends.

Although the share of listening at work dropped to 15% during lockdown (compared to 19% before restrictions), the amount of TSL by those at work has gone up by over one hour.

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Tired of bean counters
8 Sep 2020 - 3:09 pm

“ “It’s been a tough time for all media industries during COVID and as a result we’ve reviewed every aspect of our business, including programming, to ensure we continue to deliver our listeners with the best content, announcers and shows, in the most efficient way,” Jackson said.

Tough times I’ll ageee, but I reckon there’s a lot more “efficient way” in the decision than “continuing to deliver the best content”…

Rob McLennan
8 Sep 2020 - 3:26 pm

‘These decisions are always difficult’ ranks right up there with ‘thoughts and prayers’ as the most disingenuous cliche of our time. I’ve never been more grateful that I don’t work for a soulless corporate giant.

Byran Forde
8 Sep 2020 - 6:30 pm

Surely if DMG Cathy O’Connor rang the communication minister and said lower licence fee’s or we will have to sack more staff across the day, I am sure the govt would have lowered fees to keep people employed.

If the minister would not play ball I am sure Joan at CRA and Cathy could have worked up some heat on the minister”ie people will be sacked etc”.

After all, this is the same govt chasing Facebook to pay a share of traditional news content.

To me, NOVA has seen a chance to axe staff under COVID cloud, rather than force govt fee change…..weak as NOVA and opportunity missed CRA to lower licence fees.

Here’s a bet with you I bet these positions don’t come back if COVID were to leave.

You all know this is spot on 🙂

Jill Johnson
8 Sep 2020 - 7:56 pm

Another sad day for radio in Australia. Have a look at Global in the UK (who Jackson worked for cause his dad was the boss) they did the same with workday and then it was local pd’s and promotions staff next to go.

8 Sep 2020 - 9:44 pm

Unbelievable that this decision can be made a second time after such a catastrophic failure the first time. Although Not surprising given the consequences of speaking up against it

Spotify winning
8 Sep 2020 - 10:18 pm

@ Byran Forde.
I am confident that requests to lower licence fees has already been discussed and possibly submitted.
This however is/will not be enough to satisfy the shareholders.
They want more and they want it now dammit!

Johnny m
8 Sep 2020 - 10:21 pm

RIP Brisbane, they won 7 out of 8 surveys last year I believe. ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is something they have never heard of obviously

9 Sep 2020 - 8:17 am

It’s sad for the presenters that have lost their jobs but there is a silver lining for them. They’ll realise that things can get a lot better and they shouldn’t have to put up with what they have for so long

9 Sep 2020 - 10:05 am

Time to get some more competition on FM in Brisbane and Adelaide. It’s a joke there are only 4 commercial FM stations in both cities. Brisbane has 2.5 million people!! What a joke. Come on ACMA do your job.

Ben L
9 Sep 2020 - 11:20 am

Shame on ACMA and Commercial Radio Australia to let this happen.

FM workday radio used to be so strong. 9a-12 & 12-4pm were the two shifts in the majority of markets.

Contest. Concert tickets. Local callers. Light hearted chats.

Then a couple of years ago Nova instructed its workday announcers to shut up and talk twice per hour. Yes, 6 breaks a shift. Then they went to every break is a break about breakfast. No wonder this has happened. You can do that from anywhere. Anyone can do that. The personality, the content and the engagement was completely lost a few years ago.

Jason W
9 Sep 2020 - 4:13 pm

@AJ as an Adelaide resident I couldn’t agree more, we need more here.

There is room for a dedicated oldies/classic hits station on FM in Adelaide, or for Cruise 1323 to move to FM and the AM license to be given to a 2nd talkback station, or even for SEN to move in to 1323 and have 1629 become SEN2 here.

Five-double-AD is a joke, it runs so many ads it’s ridiculous, listen to say 8:30-9am each day and you’ll hear wall to wall ads interrupted with a short burst of actual content.

Anyway Nova sounded different once, now it sounds like a repeater of SAFM

No wonder streaming services are on the rise. If I wake up during the night I use a smart speaker to listen to Sydney or even New Zealand to get some genuine talkback content, the ABC just has interviews and 5AA runs repeats all night, there is no local content anymore – guess who they are owned by – NOVA!

9 Sep 2020 - 4:19 pm

Slowly chipping away at the network. Please do something about the music. It’s un-listenable

9 Sep 2020 - 7:43 pm

Will they still have ACRAs in 2021 if there is no one left to attend them?

Pete Markham
10 Sep 2020 - 9:11 pm

Radio is irrelevant without a local touch.

The day at work sees me streaming a radio station because it makes you feel a part of the city. That’s was especially the case when stuck at home. The weekend sees the radio on outside instead of Spotify because they talk about things going on.

But I’m 40, and the people 10 years + younger than me that I work with never listen to radio and don’t even know the names of commercial stations.

I’ve always maintained a strong interest in the industry both as a listener and as someone who worked for DMG for 5 years when Nova was being built.

I think if Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide was included in the ratings it would surprise a lot of people. It’s on every building site, my car, streaming from my laptop and old people like me who might pick me up for a meeting.

Just shows the relevance of pal I think.

It’s not all about breakfast, what does it cost to employ two shifts of a good presenter?

SAFM in Adelaide has a good vibe too. Local all week and uses the news presenter on weekends to do a shift and the bloke is so excited and passionate.

Just my thoughts.


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