Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men


“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”

Robin Bailey from ARN’s 97.3 in Brisbane is a breakfast superstar.  

She didn't say the above quote, it was actually author Joseph Conrad who said it, but surely it must have crossed her mind once or twice and probably the minds of most other women in radio at some point.

Robin is held in the highest regard, alongside such legendary leading female breakfast radio stars as Wendy Harmer (right), Amanda Keller, Jackie O, Kate Langbroek, Tracy Bartram and, more recently, Meshel Laurie, Fifi Box, and Chrissie Swan – all of whom have forged successful careers as stars, not sidekicks.  (I know this is 2014 and “women as stars in their own right, not sidekicks” shouldn’t even be worthy of a mention anymore… but unfortunately it still is).

And Robin Bailey is not only one of the great breakfast stars of all time, but also one of the radio and television industries’ most consistently consummate professionals – a shining example of what both industries need more of from key talent, regardless of gender.

Robin started as a journalist and was News Director for DMG for 10 years.  She played opposite Jamie Dunn at B105 in the early 2000’s, and is one of the standouts on Nines Today show appearing on weekends.

Since 2006, when Robin joined as lead on the 97.3 breakfast show, she (and the whole breakfast team and station) have had a great run – an enviable track record of strong ratings for the past eight years with the lineup of Robin with co-hosts Terry Hanson & Bob Gallagher.

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

When Robin got the role at 97.3 she said: "A woman is now the headline act, that’s a revolution".  That's true, that path was forged by the likes of Wendy and Tracy in the early nineties. Groundbreaking at the time.

97.3 is one of radio’s great success stories. The Brisbane station is one of two joint ventures with Nova Entertainment (NE) and the Australian Radio Network (ARN), the other being Nova Perth.  ARN running the Brisbane joint venture and NE running Perth.

Robin has a similar style to WSFM’s highly successful Amanda Keller.  Breakfast radio can be very lucrative if you are successful.  Amanda is rumoured to be earning over $1million for her role in Sydney, and Robin would now also be earning the big bucks given her longevity, success and strong ratings. Both women would earn more than their male counterparts in their shows.

The latest ratings show ARN’s 97.3 is #1 overall with 12.6%, ahead of Nova, Triple M and B105.

The 97.3 breakfast show is also #1 with a 12.6% ratings share. (97.3’s afternoon share of 16% shows the strength of the station’s format.) The station has always won 25-54 females and most of the time has won 25-54 all people

When I asked Robin about her success she said: “The industry has changed a lot in the last 21 years that I've been doing breakfast radio and I think I've lasted because I just wouldn't give up. I love this business and don't want to do anything else so when doors closed and I got sacked, I just picked myself up and kept knocking.”

“When I started, there were no woman front liners. Wendy Harmer was the first and I just wouldn't believe the line I kept getting given that ‘women don't like listening to women’ from a long line of old school male bosses.  It's taken a long time for this business to recognise women in management and on air (and we still have a fair way to go) and my success has been thanks to some very forward thinking guys like Brian Ford who gave me a break when no one else would.”

“This business is about taking risks and letting people find their voice, literally. The most successful are not the most famous but the ones who do this for themselves and love it. People respond to passion regardless of how it's delivered be it through comedy, talk back or relatable content and I hope I can be doing breaky radio for another 21 years.”

Robins Program Director at 97.3, Barry Drinkwater, has one of the best track records of any metro Program Director in Australia. He’s been at the helm of the station for 13 years since its launch in 2001 and should be congratulated on 97.3’s continued success. Credit also to CEO Ciaran Davis and Group Program Director Duncan Campbell who over recent years have supported the station with strong marketing ensuring it maintains its leadership position.

Barry says of Robin: “Robin lives the life of 97 3's target audience and works tirelessly to bring it to life for our listeners every day.”

Southern Cross Austereo’s Group Content Director Craig Bruce said: “I have nothing but admiration for broadcasters like Robin who continue to not only survive, but thrive in this business over so many years.

We sometimes forget how punishing breakfast radio can be both physically and emotionally. Very few have managed to do this job successfully over a long period of time. I'm sure the teams at ARN have benchmarked her work ethic and professionalism as an example for the rest of their group “

Nova Brisbane Program Director Jay Walkerden commented: “Robin is an excellent communicator and you can hear why she is much loved in Brisbane. Anyone that's been around for that long across a few brands deserves the recognition “

Robyn featured as #30 in Radio Today’s Top 30 FM Stars of all Time (here) and like those before her, she further paves the way for women to achieve great success as stars of breakfast radio.


Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year









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