CAPTION: Ryan Rathbone is National Content Director for the top rating music station, The Edge FM.
Ryan Rathbone was headed for Canadian radio, but detoured to New Zealand instead to take up an offer overseeing youth stations at MediaWorks. Rathbone later took over as national content director the Edge, a jewel in the crown for MediaWorks, the top-rating radio network nationwide.
Rathbone had given it a big makeover and the quarter three survey from GfK saw a big boost.“When you make change to a heritage brand you usually go down, not up, so it was a massive relief,” he said. The gods were on his side. The new GfK ratings system incorporated smaller provincial centres, which had been ignored in the past, and The Edge had an unrecognised big following. MediaWorks has been on the ascendancy lately in Auckland, taking audience away from NZME, which controls the other half of New Zealand’s commercial radio duopoly.
Three years after leaving his job programming 2Day FM in Sydney, Rathbone sees subtle differences in the two markets.
For the rest of the story. read Mediaweek: https://www.mediaweek.com.au/mediaweek-nz-profile-mediaworks-ryan-rathbone/
The Edge breakfast crew – Dom Harvey, Jay Jay Harvey and Chris Randell – are such a big revenue earners for MediaWorks they are even allowed to undermine colleagues at More FM. In case you missed it, last week, The Edge tricked More FM Christchurch breakfast co-host Simon Barnett into thinking he was interviewing Tom Cruise, when it was a Tom Cruise impersonator. Barnett looked silly and sounded devastated. He did not get the joke.
His co-host, Gary McCormick, was furious and producer Samantha Baxter started sobbing and told her fellow The Edge hosts to “Get a life. It’s embarrassing. But its hard to be upset for them. Fake celebrity calls are a standard for commercial breakfast radio. But it was surprising they were duped by their own colleagues. In the last survey The Edge had the country’s biggest weekly cumulative reach of 662,300 listeners, ahead of More FM om 517,000.
With The Edge ratings so high Dom, Jay Jay and Chris might feel unstoppable. But there is an old maxim in the media business – be nice to people on your way to the top, because you might meet them again on the way down. They are obliged to be outrageous but they are in the unusual role as husband and wife shock jocks.
Occasionally, the quest for outrage has seen the Edge Breakfast show lose the plot.
In August 2015 the Edge crew had contestants in the Bachelor competition – women who under contract to Mediaworks – to swallow a cucumber. in my opinion it was demeaning and sleazy at a network that has a lot of kids and teen females innit audience. In April Dom Harvey had published a crotch shot of Bachelorette Chrystal Chenery with a lewd comment.
In October last year the NZ Herald’s Spy reported:
Jay-Jay Harvey disappeared from her morning radio show yesterday morning and hasn’t returned since.
This morning, co-hosts Clinton Randall Dom Harvey opened up about her mysterious disappearance.
“It’s probably time to address the elephant in the room, what is up with Jay-Jay… She was here with us yesterday morning and then mysteriously mid-show she just disappeared.
“It turns out Jay-Jay was in one of the toilet cubicles crying at the time,” the hosts explained.
“Jay-Jay is a sufferer of depression and exhaustion I guess as well. She takes a lot on and she gets to the point where things can get a little bit too much,” said Dom, who said there was “a lot of family stuff going on” in their lives.
Jay Jay cancelled a book tour at the time which described her battle with depression. Media have rightly g0ne out of their way to respect Harvey’s condition and its challenges. It can’t always be easy being a shock jock.
RNZ news boss Brent Edwards is leaving amidst tension in the Wellington newsroom. Edwards is the news director and head of newsgathering at RNZ. He was formerly political editor, working from parliament. And he has also been a key player in E tu journalist union.
His resignation was announced yesterday and it will be effective after the election. The move has shocked new staff and comes at the same time as a contentious restructuring with key news roles moved from Wellington to Auckland. RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson said Edwards’ resignation was a big loss. He did not know whether his news director role would stay in Wellington, or whether it will be moved to Auckland. RNZ has restructured the role of another senior executive Gael Woods.
Her future is unclear. I am told Auckland chief executive Eileen Cameron is also stepping down soon. though this is not directly related to the restructuring. RNZ claims that a move to Auckland is necessary due to the high risk of an earthquake in Wellington. This view makes some sense. But staff said the implementation has been clumsy and harsh and appears to have “come from nowhere.” Thompson had told staff that around 50 positions will move north over several years.
Edwards did not return a call. But sources say that he – long with the director of news programmes – Mary Wilson – questioned news restructuring plans. In the Budget the government rannounced an end to athe punishing funding freeze at RNZ. Negotiations were with Minister for Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry, a former presenter on RNZ Morning Report. The RNZ negotiator was Richard Griffin, a former RNZ political editor.
Radio New Zealand is planning a small but significant shake-up of its news division, including key roles being moved from Wellington to Auckland. Only four roles will be affected, including one on-air position. But my source says there may be a greater impact on staff being unable or unwilling to move north. Away from news, it is understood that longtime overnights announcer Lloyd Scott is moving on.
RNZ is explaining the latest shakeup as an aftershock from the Kaikoura earthquake. It showed how the capital and the RNZ head office were vulnerable to natural disaster. RNZ has a legislated role for communications during a civil defence emergency. However, some Wellington staff believe there is a natural bias at the RNZ board of governors which sees Wellington as hidebound by past practices. The Auckland office is perceived as part of the new look RNZ. The image head of content Carol Hirschfeld appearing on an RNZ podcast dressed in gym gear for a promotion of a fitness programme is said to illustrate the change. It includes a more relaxed approach to the depiction of brands. This new approach has been supported by chief executive Paul Thompson. As Auckland has grown, relations between the two offices have become strained. Thompson and key news management have been based in Wellington. Former Checkpoint host Mary Wilson is in a senior news role in Wellington, while John Campbell and the new Checkpoint team are in Auckland.
So is Jesse Mulligan, and in some ways, the Auckland office has come to epitomise the new look RNZ. The specifics of changes are to be spelt out on Wednesday. RNZ stresses there are only a small number of changes. But the timing is significant given the impending general election. Thompson said any changes to the news would not affect election coverage, In the last budget, the government ended a punishing nine-year funding freeze. It allocated an annual $2.8 million increase on top of the $32 million it has been given since 2007.
Once upon a time, RNZ was extraordinarily careful ensuring it did not promote brands in its content. It is understandable for an organisation whose main point of difference is that they have no ads. RNZ executives were once obsessively stayed clear of promoting brands. The world is changing. Last week the head of content at Radio New Zealand, Carol Hirschfeld, was decked out in gym gear at Les Mills for the latest episode for the “Healthy or Hoax” podcast series. The item was about the intensive Hiit workout programme offered by some gym firms. But in my opinion, the item came across as a promotion for the programme offered by Les Mills. RNZ wrote:
“As the Healthy or Hoax podcast team, led by host Carol Hirschfeld, found out HIIT definitely has some benefits. The most obvious is that you can finish a workout in 20 minutes instead of an hour… or more.
By all accounts the item went across well public. I wonder if this is due to it starring former celebrity Hirschfeld fronting the programme. RNZ appears to be experimenting with its own image. The head of the podcast team Tim Watkin has had astonishing success recently for the political series The Ninth floor, with Guyon Espiner interviewing former Prime Ministers.
Does Radio New Zealand have a Radio NZ to spell out the promotion of brands, he said this came down to journalist oversight.
I asked Carol Hirschfeld how she – a senior public servant with responsibility for content – had come to don her gym gear front the lifestyle series.
“Tim Watkin asked me. I was happy to do so at his request.”
Why was Les Mills chosen to take part in the recent podcast?
“RNZ journalist/producer Kate Pereyra Garcia, who came up with the concept for Healthy or Hoax, had been looking to set up a session at a Les Mills gym in Wellington. She asked if I would be happy to be involved and do an exercise class. I thought it would fun and a good first person account for the podcast. I then recorded at a Hiit class at a Les Mills gym in Auckland.”
Was there any conflict of interest between RNZ and Les Mills?
Was the fact that her Finlay Macdonald is attached to Les Mills a factor in the decision to feature Les Mills?
“No. For the sake of transparency, I mention in the podcast my husband does work for Les Mills.”
Do you believe the coverage promoted Les Mills and its service?
“The headline for the podcast episode which was in part recorded at Les Mills reads high intensity exercise too much of a good thing. The podcast is clear about the drawbacks of Hiit.”
Can you clarify the process at RNZ for handling exposure of brands and potential conflicts of interest?
“Like all media organisation, at times we feature different commercial organisations in our features content. Those editorial decisions are made by the producers of the content. Conflicts of interest are dealt with by executive producers/editors and ultimately the editor-in-chief (CEO Paul Thompson).”
Wendy Palmer resigned today as chief executive of the MediaWorks radio operation, signaling more big changes ahead for New Zealand media. Yesterday, Jeff Latch resigned as TVNZ director of content after 23 years. Both have been major players in New Zeland media. Palmer has been a leading light of MediaWorks and she has maintained market leadership against NZME radio operations.
The stability and strength in Mediaworks radio – especially in Auckland – has balanced the major problems facing TV3. Sources say that Palmer has become frustrated with the ructions during the troubled era when Mark Weldon was CEO of MediaWorks. Weldon was more interested in TV, but sources say it was a challenging time for Palmer as well. Amidst persistent rumours of potential sales for MediaWorks there have been suitors for radio alone, but few when TV is included in the sale, sources say. In August last yea, Michael Anderson took over as CEO. His profile on the MediaWorks website highlights a background radio. “Michael spent seven years as CEO of one of Australia’s largest commercial radio groups Austereo (now Southern Cross Austereo) and before that as their Group Director, Sales. “Under Michael’s leadership, Austereo’s performance in both revenue and audience grew significantly – in a time of huge change to the industry.” MediaWorks has previously rejected several requests to speak to Anderson about the strategy and future of the firm.
The Polly and Grant show South of Auckland may not continue following Gillespie’s bathroom criticism of NZME. Todd Campbell Content Director The Hits said
Todd Campbell, Content Director The Hits, said: “The Polly and Grant Show is not on air, we are reviewing the events of the last few days, no further comment will be made at this time. In the meantime we will continue to bring the best music from the 90s till now including the chance to see Adele in concert.”
Earlier story. Polly Gillespie’s bathrobe video is a strange belated response to her losing the breakfast show in Auckland for “The Hits” You wonder if there may be more changes ahead at The Hits. When the change of Auckland hosts was announced by NZME on Christmas Eve, Gillespie was on board saying all the things dropped hosts were meant to say. She congratulated Sam Wallace and Toni Street who were to take over the Auckland breakfast show.
Judging by her Facebook video this week, Gillespie is not happy with the outcome. Dressed in a bathrobe and dying her hair, she criticised the move and new restrictions on what she can say in social media. Her contract ends in March.
Asked about plans for her and her co-host Grant Kereama, she told Stuff> “I have no plans to go anywhere else but I’m fairly sure I won’t be re-signing with current employers.
Changes in on-air hosts happen all the time. Auckland ratings for The Hits breakfast show may do better with Wallace, and Street moving from TVNZ. Street will continue in her role as mumsy sidekick to Mike Hosking on Seven Sharp, helping her profile. The attempt to turn Polly Gillespie into a celebrity in Auckland always seemed like a Big Ask..to me, She was very much a Wellington person virtually unknown in Auckland, the biggest market and most competitive breakfast radio market.
Former NZME chief executive Jane Hastings there were extraordinary efforts to promote Gillespie in Auckland. But under MediaWorks programming boss Leon Wratt, the competition has been doing well with Auckland ratings for its music stations.
It is easy to see why NZME was attracted to Street and Wallace with their established TV profiles. NZME has a commercial arrangement to share talent with TVNZ.
It has Hosking on Breakfast at Newstalk ZB nationally and now they will have Street at “The Hits” … in Auckland at least. You wonder if Wallace and Street will eventually go nationwide.
RNZ returns to its regular schedule on Monday – declaring an end to a four week summer when the world allegedly stops spinning for us all to catch our breath. Locally, its a time when politics and business slow down allowing local media operate on a skeleton staff for a couple of weeks. RNZ takes that a step further. It always restarts programming year on Wellington Anniversary Day, after what is effectively a month long break. Its a week too long. National Radio has been missing in action this week. The world is in upheaval due to Trump. Morning Report will return on Monday with the world utterly changed.
When the radio industry changed to new combined GfK ratings system at the start of his year, commercial radio bosses insisted that RNZ National results should be kept separate from their own. Despite collecting similar information, it is hard to compare commercial and public broadcasting figures. Maybe the commercial radio people saw trouble ahead. In this, the third survey of the year, Morning Report appears to be holding up well and National Radio maintains a 10.5 per cent share of the total radio audience. Meanwhile, Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB has taken a big tumble. Lets wait until the next survey. Things could turn around. But it seems possible that Hosking is losing his tight grip on the breakfast talk audience. Are people falling out of love with The Hosk?
CAPTION. Julie Christie will continue to be the programming brains on the MediaWorks Board after McGeoch goes next month
MediaWorks has taken another step away from dysfunction of the Mark Weldon era with the departure of its chairman, Rod McGeoch. His replacement – board member Jack Matthews – will be hard-pressed to bring back the goodwill of the firm pre-receivership. But he will need to try – because the current funk puts it at a disadvantage ,to its competitors. Matthews appears to be well liked by staff and will need to try.