Tom Malone on Russel Howcroft, Alan Jones & generational change

Former Assistant Editor
Russell Howcroft, Tom Malone

2020 has seen generational change at key Nine Radio stations, with both 3AW Melbourne and 2GB Sydney welcoming new Breakfast hosts.

The latest episode of Paul McIntyre’s Mi3 podcast sees the journo chat with Nine Radio’s new boss Tom Malone, as well as newly installed 3AW host Russel Howcroft.

The podcast begins with the duo talking about the Howcroft’s shift from his former position as PwC chief creative officer.

The idea to put Howcroft into 3AW Brekky came from a meeting between Malone and Profile Talent Management boss Mark Klemens.

“We were having a catch-up in February, talking about successors and Mark said ‘I think Russel would be perfect,’” Malone told McIntyre.

“I knew him from Gruen, from his work at Channel 10 and his incredible background in both media and marketing made him the perfect fit.”

Reflecting on the change, Howcroft said “there were no credentials whatsoever to make me think that I could do it”.

But he confirmed “it is absolutely true that 20 years ago I thought I would love to do [radio]”.

The podcast also touches on the recent departure of Alan Jones, who had led Sydney breakfast for decades.

“When I took over, the first person I went and saw was Alan Jones. For 30 years he’s been the most important person on the station in terms of his ability to bring in audiences and advertising,” Malone said.

“He requested that we have a chat. He said, ‘I think I should finish up sooner rather than later’, and we were able to make that happen. We were able to send Alan off really well, and we’re really proud of that.”

By putting Howcroft on 3AW in place of John Burns, and replacing Jones with Ben Fordham on 2GB, Malone said he was re-establishing Nine Radio’s assets for younger listeners.

“We’re seeing the end of a long generation of very successful broadcasters.

“But what that means is the audience has grown older with them as well, and we’ve ceded ground to a lot of the music stations – who are really doing talk shows in breakfast.

“So we needed to re-establish ourselves.”

Malone believes that media buyers are stuck looking at what is now an outdated 25 to 54 demographic, because people at 25 aren’t looking to get married or buy a house anymore.

“35 to 65 is what advertisers really need to start looking at, because people are still making significant purchases right through that period of their lives.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

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Peter Johnson
16 Sep 2020 - 12:50 pm

I think Tom Malone might receive a rude shock when the ratings come in on September 29th.

16 Sep 2020 - 7:03 pm

If Ben Fordham’s ratings for the 2GB breakfast show prove next year to be not what Nine Radio need to be No.1 on Sydney radio, then I would suggest they find out when TV host Paul Murray comes off contract at Sky News and offer him the 2GB breakfast slot. I am not someone with strong conservative political views (I am a Centre-Right-moderate), nor am I a fan of the Rupert Murdoch’s “Aussie version of Fox News”. However I can recognise that Paul Murray is someone that knows how to connect with his audience and he does not care one bit what his detractors think. Paul Murray is who Nine Radio/2GB need to headhunt if Ben Fordham’s current tenure doesn’t work out.

17 Sep 2020 - 11:43 am

Peter I hope Tom Malone has a defibulator nearby on ratings day.

Paul Robinson
17 Sep 2020 - 11:49 am

Cant you just imagine Hugh Marks Nine CEO saying to Tom ” mate you’ve got 10 years to fix this “

Helen Wintle
17 Sep 2020 - 8:41 pm

I think Paul Murray will be a good replacement for Ben Fordham in the future.

18 Sep 2020 - 12:00 am

Younger people don’t know the AM band exists … and who wants to listen to their ill-informed toxic, partisan garbage anyway?


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