Posts filed under 'TV/Radio/Media'

Most 4BC presenters sacked, and 2UE starts to see presenter changes

The ramifications of the Fairfax/Macquarie Radio merger continued to unfold today.

Brisbane’s only commercial talk station lost most of its local shows with the breakfast, morning, afternoon, evening, and weekend presenters all sacked along with the staff who worked on their shows. Fairfax/Macquarie (what is their name these days?) Chief Operating Officer Adam Lang said in a press statement that the aim is to send some staff to roles in other radio stations in the network, but it seems clear that this will only happen for a very small number of staff.

At the moment, the new 4BC lineup has not been announced, but the word is that 2GB’s Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, and Chris Smith will all have their shows broadcast live on 4BC from Monday. With Alan Jones taking next week off and Chris Smith likely to fill in for him also on holidays apparently, it will probably be a while before 4BC’s audience has the faintest clue who should be on the radio at any given time. There is no word on what will happen to 4BC at night, although it seems clear that programming will emanate from Sydney…either 2UE’s Sports Today and Mike Jeffreys or 2GB’s Money News and Steve Price. Weekends look set to be entirely Sydney-based programming apart from local news bulletins. No word as yet on the future of 4BC’s Sports Today program (Update 5:53pm: Former 4BC presenter Ian Maurice reports 4BC’s Sports Today has been axed. Weekday drive from 3pm is now the only remaining local show. End Update) but I won’t be surprised if it gets replaced by 2UE’s show of the same name.

For 4BC, this puts them in what I would consider an embarrassing position for a capital city talk station where they have less local content than some regional stations. 2CC Canberra, for example, will have roughly double the amount of local content of 4BC, and probably more once weekends are added to the equation. In a market where there are multiple commercial talk stations this might not matter too much (most US markets for example have multiple commercial talk stations, and even if they individually don’t have much local programming, you can almost always find something local on at least one of them during daylight hours), but when it is the only commercial talk station in the market it is a very sad situation indeed.

I will add one caveat to this…4BC has been performing very poorly in the ratings of late and this move might just be a way of buying Fairfax/Macquarie time to figure out how to rebuild 4BC with some local content in the future, without burning cash on shows which nobody is listening to at the moment. If that is the plan, then it might be fair enough even if it is a shame in the short term. If not, then I expect somebody in the next couple of years to flip an existing music station in to a local talk station to fill a void in the market.

4BC’s sister station, Magic 882, was not spared from the cuts and lost evening presenter Jo Henderson.

Meanwhile at 2UE, afternoon presenter Angela Catterns is the first show host to be shown the door under the new regime. It seems that she was told about her fate after her show had ended and was not given an opportunity to say goodbye to her audience. The sacked 4BC presenters were at least aware they were having a meeting about their fate after their respective shows today and had a chance to say something to their audiences. There is no information whatsoever on who or what will fill her timeslot, but given the cost-cutting going on around the network, I’d be surprised if somebody is just put in to her timeslot. Instead I’m tipping existing daytime shows to be extended and/or some daytime programming to come from 3AW in Melbourne.
Update 11:20pm: With thanks to kj who left a tipoff in the comments below, 2UE have confirmed that existing daytime shows will be extended to cover Angela Catterns’ timeslot. Stuart Bocking’s show has been extended by two hours and will now run from 9am until 2pm, and Justin Smith’s show has been extended by one hour and will now run from 2pm until 6pm.

I will simply say this. Stuart Bocking is more than capable of hosting an interesting five hours of radio day in and day out, but I worry about the quality of that timeslot when Stuart is away and a fill-in host has to fill that much time over multiple days or weeks. End Update

Also at 2UE, weekend powerhouse duo George Moore and Paul B. Kidd have picked an interesting weekend to have some time off. They announced at the end of their show on Sunday that they would be having this weekend off and will return next weekend. Although they are undoubtedly the most popular presenters on the station, I do have to wonder if they were a tad strategic with their timing…with all the changes going on, it is inevitable that people will hear their absence tomorrow, fear the worst, and voice their displeasure to 2UE…proving their value to Management at this point in time might actually be a very clever decision, even if it does turn out to be a purely coincidental absence.

Update 8:30pm: I have received an email asking about the fate of 4BC afternoon (12pm – 3pm) presenter Clare Blake. As far as I know, Clare has survived but her show probably won’t continue in its current form for very long as Chris Smith’s 2GB afternoon show is likely to be broadcast in to Brisbane. I can’t confirm anything about Clare at the moment but I am confident that she is continuing at 4BC as, apart from the bit of information I’ve received, her profile is still on 4BC’s website whereas almost all the sacked people have been removed from 4BC and 2UE’s websites. End Update

Samuel

3 comments April 10th, 2015 at 05:27pm

2UE produces its last news bulletin

The first major change in the merger of Fairfax and Macquarie Radio Networks has occurred this hour with Sydney’s 6pm news bulletin being the last one produced by the station’s own newsroom in Greenwich. The next news bulletin at 7pm will be produced at 2GB’s studios in Pyrmont and will be the same Macquarie National News heard on 2GB.

The 2UE news bulletin, read by Matt McDonald and Glen Lauder, included a report from 2UE’s Robert Spicer about the closure of the newsroom. Matt McDonald, 2UE’s news director, also had his own personal message at the end of the weather, as did John Gibbs at the start of the 6pm show Sports Today. I also note 2GB’s Ben Fordham had some nice words for staff at 2GB and 2UE at the end of his show as well.

2UE’s 6pm news and start of Sports Today:

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A number of journalists at 2UE and 2GB have lost their jobs today as the newsrooms more-or-less merge. To those staying and those going, I wish you all the best of luck. I will be interested to see what happens to veteran 2UE morning newsreader Steve Blanda who went on leave at the end of last week, stating that he would be on leave for four weeks and didn’t know if he will be back. I hope he is.

It’s possible that this might not be the last thing produced in the 2UE newsroom in Greenwich as they have also been producing a three minute pre-feed news at ten minutes to the hour for a lot of regional stations. Production of that will shift to Pyrmont, but I’ll be interested to see if it goes tonight or tomorrow or at some stage in the future. I will keep you posted.

update 6:40pm: 2GB’s Pyrmont newsroom has been producing a pre-recorded news bulletin for sister station 2CH. This news bulletin has been shorter than 2UE’s prefed news (two minutes rather than three minutes) and has started with the line “With the latest Macquarie National News, I’m (name)”. I can confirm that the 6pm news on 2CH started simply with the presenter introducing himself “I’m Beau Mitchem” which is the format currently used for 2UE’s prefed news. It also ended with the line used on 2UE’s prefed news “that’s the latest news and sport” which is a change from the old ending line “that’s the latest Macquarie National News”. It did, however, run for just two minutes as has been the standard for 2CH’s pre-recorded news, but clearly changes are in the works. end update

Update 6:58pm The 3min 2UE prefeed is now being produced by 2GB. The first one has been read by Beau Mitchem. end update

Update 7:05pm 2GB has taken over production of the Fairfax 3 minute prefeed, and it has replaced the 2CH prefeed. The 3 minute prefeed bulletin just aired on 2CH and it was exactly the same bulletin as was available on the Fairfax Radio News app. 2UE and 2GB just aired their first joint bulletin, also read by Beau Mitchem. Audio of these bulletins will be forthcoming in a few minutes once I organise the recordings. End Update

Update 7:44pm
For the purposes of preserving the last moments of the 2UE newsroom, the standalone 2GB newsroom, and the first moments of the newly-networked 2GB newsroom, here is some more audio from 6pm and 7pm.

2GB’s 6pm news, read by Amie Meehan. This was 2GB’s last production of Macquarie National News as a standalone entity.

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2CH’s 6pm news, read by Beau Mitchem. Recorded shortly before 6pm, this was Macquarie’s last pre-recorded news produced solely for 2CH.

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Fairfax Radio’s 6pm national prefeed news, read by Lucy Brennan. This was recorded at 5:50pm and would have aired on a number of stations around the country. It was the last prefed news bulletin to emanate from 2UE’s Greenwich studios. (bulletin only with no opener as it was downloaded from Fairfax Radio’s website).

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From 7pm, 2GB’s Pyrmont studios took over production of these news services. Here is the live 2UE/2GB news as read by Beau Mitchem:
2GB 7pm

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2UE 7pm

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To my ear it sounds slightly clearer on 2GB, which would only be because it can be pumped directly in to the on-air equipment at Pyrmont, and for 2UE it would have to go over a network link and go to air via the on-air equipment at Greenwich, a situation which will probably change in coming months assuming 2UE gets moved to the Pyrmont studios.

7pm Fairfax National News prefeed read by Beau Mitchem, recorded at 6:50pm. This news runs for 3 minutes, whereas the old 2CH pre-record ran for two minutes.
This is audio of it airing on 2CH at 7pm. As 2CH is going to be sold in the coming months for legal reasons, I have included the weather and start of the show after the news as I expect the station’s imaging will probably change once a new owner takes charge.

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I should also note that Frankster over at Frankster’s Archive was recording 2UE’s 6pm news from DAB+ digital radio. The difference in audio quality between that and 2UE’s webstream is noticeable. If you want to take a listen he has the audio on his website.

End Update

Samuel

Audio credit: Macquarie Radio Network/Fairfax Radio Network

1 comment April 9th, 2015 at 06:21pm

Andrew Moore leaving 2GB to go to ABC Grandstand

The best rugby league commentator in the business is calling it a day at 2GB and The Continuous Call Team, and is off to the ABC. Andrew’s last day at 2GB will be Friday of this week when he finishes up his final show filling in for breakfast presenter Alan Jones.

Andrew Moore in the 2GB Studios during a live cross to Seven's Sunrise program, as seen on the 2GB webcam. 13 July, 2012. Image credit: Macquarie Radio Network
Andrew Moore in the 2GB Studios during a live cross to Seven’s Sunrise program, as seen on the 2GB webcam. 13 July, 2012. Image credit: Macquarie Radio Network

An announcement was made today about Andrew’s departure although at this stage there has not been an official announcement about Andrew joining ABC Grandstand, however I have had it confirmed that Andrew has signed a contract with the ABC and it has been common knowledge at 2GB for a number of weeks.

Andrew’s departure leaves quite a hole in 2GB’s top rating rugby league coverage. Andrew was chief commentator for a few years when Ray Hadley reduced his radio commentary commitments and expanded to television commentary, however Ray resumed his role as chief commentator of The Continuous Call Team last year, taking over some of Andrew’s games. This is the third high-profile departure from 2GB’s Continuous Call Team in the space of a year, as they lost commentator Joel Caine last year in a dispute with rival NRL broadcaster Triple M over Joel’s role as a betting odds spruiker on both stations, and expert comments man Steve “Blocker” Roach late last year in a bullying complaint.

It was rumoured late in last year’s NRL season, a while before Andrew apparently signed with ABC Grandstand, that Andrew would go to the ABC, and sacked ABC commentator David Morrow, a friend of Ray Hadley, would move to 2GB. This is starting to look likely, although there is still the prospect of 2UE’s John Gibbs returning to 2GB’s Continuous Call Team later this year after the merger of the two stations’ respective parent companies is finalised. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile it looks like Steve “Blocker” Roach may become a regular fixture on Triple M’s commentary team after doing some off-season work there.

Andrew’s departure from 2GB leaves more than just a hole in their rugby league ranks, as Andrew was a regular fill-in host for a number of the “big name” hosts such as Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, and Ben Fordham, and hosted his own show “Wake Up Australia” at 4am on weekdays as a lead-in to Alan Jones’ breakfast show. I’m sure the hours were dreadful for Andrew given that he has a family to look after, but I thought Wake Up Australia was a perfect timeslot for him as he was very good at providing some early morning news and commentary while keeping a cheerful persona which works very well at that hour, and is a welcome change from overnight shows dragging their traditionally slower format all the way through to breakfast. I really enjoyed hearing Andrew at that hour, as I was often either finishing work or getting ready to start work…and I will especially miss my occasional chats with Andrew when I would call in at about 4:15am.

Michael McLaren will be taking over Wake Up Australia next week when the show returns from its summer hiatus, however as Michael has his own weekend overnight show, it is unclear if this is a permanent move.

One thing which may work in Andrew’s favour at the ABC is his television experience. For a few years he hosted an NRL panel discussion program for the Ten Network called “The Game Plan”. The show was probably part of Ten’s (sadly) unsuccessful efforts to secure some NRL rights and probably would have resulted in Andrew calling some games for Ten if they had been successful in gaining NRL rights. Alas once Ten’s bid for rights was unsuccessful, The Game Plan’s budget was reduced and it was shifted off to a multi-channel before eventually being cancelled.

Samuel with Andrew Moore in Ten's Pyrmont studios after the live broadcast of The Game Plan on September 15, 2011.
Samuel with Andrew Moore in Ten’s Pyrmont studios after the live broadcast of The Game Plan on September 15, 2011.

Unfortunately, unlike 2GB, ABC Grandstand do not usually post their commentator lineup online, so it could be a little difficult to know in advance which games he will be calling. I will certainly be listening to Andrew’s commentary as much as I can, but as I also like various other commentators at 2GB (Ray Hadley and Mark Levy in particular) and Triple M (Dan Ginnane and Anthony Maroon are both great callers, but I think they each work best with certain co-commentators) and so I expect I’m going to have an interesting year trying to figure out which commentary to listen to for any given match.

My very best wishes to Andrew. I hope he has oodles of success at the ABC, and maybe at long last will get to commentate on the Olympics! Good luck buddy!

Samuel

12 comments January 13th, 2015 at 06:57pm

Alan Jones live on 4BC Brisbane from next week

But for two weeks only, and surprisingly it has absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming merger of Fairfax Radio (owner of 4BC) and Macquarie Radio (owner of 2GB).

Radio Today is reporting on the interesting move which will see Alan Jones broadcasting for an extra hour each day. He will present his normal 5:30am – 9am show on 2GB Sydney, and then broadcast for an hour on 4BC from 8am to 9am Queensland time (9am to 10am Sydney time) with a show dealing primarily with the upcoming Queensland election.

According to Radio Today, the show will air on weekdays for two weeks only, starting on Monday January 19, and wrapping up on Friday January 30, the day before the election. No word as yet on whether it will air on Australia Day. The report indicates that this show will only be for 4BC, but I won’t be surprised if it ends up on Macquarie Radio’s regional Queensland stations as well.

I dare say that executives across Fairfax Radio and Macquarie Radio will be keeping an eye on how this show performs, as if it goes well, there is every chance that Alan’s daily hour of highlights show will be fast-tracked in to the 4BC schedule ahead of the merger.

In related news, Alan isn’t the only 2GB presenter returning from holidays next week. I’ve heard promos today for Ben Fordham returning next week. 2GB were originally not going to return to their normal schedule until January 27, but it looks like that has changed and next week’s schedule might be very close to normal, even if one or two people are still away.

Samuel

1 comment January 12th, 2015 at 06:35pm

The 2015 2UE, 3AW, and 4BC presenter shake shuffle and confuse

It’s that time of year again where 2UE announce a bunch of changes to their presenter lineup. This year it involves the other east coast Fairfax stations in a bit of a shuffle.

The big change at 2UE is that Clive Robertson, the standout weekday ratings performer for the station (I shudder to think how low 2UE’s full-day ratings figures would be without Clive), is out. He is being replaced by Walter Williams whose show will be networked out of 4BC Brisbane. This show will be extended by an hour to run 7pm – Midnight instead of Clive’s timeslot of 8pm-Midnight. Fairfax Radio is saying Clive “decided not to return”, although the impression I’m getting from a few sources is that this is not entirely accurate. I wouldn’t expect to hear anything contradictory to it publicly though, given the contractual obligations on Fairfax and Clive.
This almost certainly means we will hear less of Mike Jeffreys who has been regularly filling-in for Clive.

As part of the Walter Williams move, 2UE’s Sports Today show with John Gibbs will be reduced to one hour, running from 6pm-7pm. Co-Host Greg “Brandy” Alexander left the show at the end of last year to focus on his Fox Sports duties.

2UE and 4BC will continue to run Luke Bona’s overnight show, however in a very unexpected move, 3AW will also take this show, replacing Andrew McLaren (no relation to 2GB’s weekend overnight host Michael McLaren) and Mark Petkovic who were apparently made aware of the decision yesterday. This is a peculiar move for Fairfax Radio in that Andrew and Mark work well in the Melbourne market but when Fairfax tried to network their show in to Sydney, Brisbane and regional markets in recent years it caused a massive listener backlash outside of Melbourne. Sydney presenters also rarely go down well with the Melbourne audience, so if this goes as well as the last overnight networking attempt, Andrew and Mark could be back after a couple months of holidays.

Even more odd for the overnights is that weekend overnights will be networked out of 3AW Melbourne (presumably presented by existing 3AW weekend overnight host Alan Pearsall, unless Andrew and Mark are moved to weekends). Back when the 3AW weekday overnight show was networked, weekends remained separate so that the 3AW show could focus on AFL and the 2UE/4BC show could focus on NRL. It will be interesting to see how 3AW’s show handles NRL discussion. This change also means that 2UE & 4BC’s weekend overnight host John Cadogan is out. He will fill-in for Tim Webster on weekend afternoons this weekend and then will be relegated to the subs bench, awaiting a fill-in job.

Update 6:36pm: A strange thing pops up when one does a Google Image search for “Alan Pearsall Radio”
Alan Pearsall on 2UE

To the best of my knowledge, Alan Pearsall has only ever hosted a show on 2UE briefly. This was when Tim Shaw in Sydney went on holidays while the Melbourne weekday overnight show was being networked in 2012, and so Alan’s 3AW show was extended to 2UE for two weekends. I’d be surprised if that was a long enough period of time for that image to have been produced, which makes me think it has been produced for the expansion of his 3AW show to the network.
Unfortunately I can’t confirm where or when that image was made as the page Google alleges it is on, shows no sign of it.
End Update

Of course, we still have the finalisation of the Fairfax/Macquarie merger to come in a few months, so this could all change again before winter arrives.

For the information in this post, thanks go to a few people who can be named publicly: Jason Morrison, John Cadogan, Ash Long, and Radio Today. Thanks also go to some people who can’t be named…you know who you are.

Samuel

1 comment January 9th, 2015 at 06:12pm

Shortland Street on a 7two hiatus until February

One of my guilty pleasures is the often comical New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Of late, 7two has been airing it roughly 31 months behind New Zealand television (and catching up slowly, I think) with episodes from May 2012 airing in the last few weeks.

Unfortunately as 7two will be filled with tennis for most of the day for the next four weeks, Shortland Street will not be on. The tennis tends not to clash with Shorty’s 9:30am airing in the AEDT timezone, but does in other timezones and so will not be airing, as this would cause some states to either be out-of-sync or miss out on episodes completely, and the overnight 4:30am-ish replay often clashes with 7two replaying old tennis matches.

For poor Dr. Chris Warner this means another month in prison while he waits to see if anyone can prove that he didn’t kill Hayley, and for me it means a month without such amusing low-budget shenanigans as the helicopter crash from the show’s 20th anniversary episodes which aired over the last few weeks on 7two.

Oh well, I suppose a month without Shortland Street gives me some extra time in my day to devote to other things, such as my dogs and this blog.

Update January 8: It looks like Shortland Street will be back a week earlier than I thought. January 26, Australia Day. I can’t thoroughly confirm this yet, but I’ll keep you posted. End Update
Update January 15: It is now confirmed by Seven’s advance schedules that Shortland Street returns on January 26 at 9:30am. The late night replay does not return in that week due to continued late night tennis replays. End Update

Samuel

3 comments January 5th, 2015 at 05:31am

A few interesting new year radio changes in the US

There are a few interesting changes happening in talk radio in the US to coincide with the start of the new year (or thereabouts).

Wall Street Journal Radio Network closes, but one show continues
The one which probably affects the most stations is that The Wall Street Journal Radio Network has closed down. This network provided a large number of stations with programming, including short-form business reports multiple times per day. Many affiliates of these business reports have switched over to taking reports from Fox Business Network which provides similar but shorter reports, although it probably leaves a number of stations without business and finance reports, especially if they were using Wall Street Journal reports while another station in the market took Fox reports.

Gordon Deal and Gina CervettiOf interest internationally is that morning news program The Wall Street Journal This Morning (and associated program The Wall Street Journal This Weekend) did not shut down when the network closed on December 31. In what I can only describe as a surprising but pleasing move, the program simply changed name (to “This Morning, America’s First News” and “This Weekend”) and distributor, and was able to keep most of its staff, and was even allowed to retain ownership of its existing podcast distribution process (hence the international interest). The show, which is hosted by Gordon Deal, did however lose newsreader Gina Cervetti, replacing her with a former colleague of Gordon Deal, Jennifer Kushinka. Gina’s last day was Wednesday, but was heard on Thursday’s New Year’s Day show in her normal role as that day’s show seemed to be pre-recorded and still had the old Wall Street Journal branding.

Making the transition even easier is that the new distributor of the show, Compass Media Networks, was able to retain the same satellite distribution channel and did not change the format for commercial breaks, which was probably a benefit to many of the broadcast affiliates given that the change happened over a period which traditionally has fewer staff on-deck to handle network programming changes.

Unfortunately not all affiliates are taking the renamed program. WCBM in Baltimore, for example, replaced it with a replay of the first hour of Coast To Coast AM for the Thursday and Friday of this week, and is extending the local morning show by an hour so that it starts at 5am as of Monday. Kansas City is an interesting one as well, as the show changes affiliate on Monday when it effectively “comes home”, moving from KCMO to KMBZ. KMBZ used to run The Wall Street Journal This Morning from 2008 until 2011 when it moved to KCMO.

KMBZ Kansas City splits AM and FM programming
Speaking of Kansas City and KMBZ, they have their own interesting change starting on Monday.
KMBZ's AM and FM signals splitting on January 5, 2015

KMBZ did what a bunch of AM talk radio stations did in the US in the early stages of this decade in that they added an FM simulcast of their AM station. This year, they’re splitting the signals and placing different talk programming on each one, with a little bit of overlap. This could be a growing trend in talk radio as I’m aware of at least one other station which has recently done the same thing…WTRC-FM (News/Talk 95.3 MNC in South Bend, Indiana) had been running its programming on WTRC-AM (1340 AM, Elkhart, Indiana) and last year split the AM station so that it has its own local morning show and does not take the FM station’s afternoon drive show, but seems to run the same programming the rest of the time.

KMBZ’s split is a bit more thorough than WTRC’s split. KMBZ has been running live and local programming through all of the daylight hours except for 11am-2pm when Rush Limbaugh’s national show is on (although Rush has strong ties to Kansas City so his show isn’t quite as non-local as other syndicated shows), and stayed live and local until 9pm when it ran Glenn Beck on a 13-hour delay, followed by Coast To Coast AM. The new format keeps live and local programming on the FM station through all of the daylight hours and through to 9pm, with only the overnight hours being non-local, but interestingly makes them all live as well, with nationally syndicated shows Ground Zero 9pm-Midnight, Coast To Coast AM Midnight-4am, and This Morning with Gordon Deal 4am-5am.

The AM station becomes primarily nationally syndicated shows with Darla Jaye as the only local host. Glenn Beck fans should be pleased to now receive his show live (albeit only two hours of it rather than the three they used to get), while Rush Limbaugh fans will continue to receive his show, and Sean Hannity returns to the Kansas City market after a year’s absence since KCMO dumped him when Sean split from KCMO’s parent company Cumulus Media in favour of exclusive distribution by Premiere Networks. America Now (currently without a regular host and being guest hosted by increasingly prolific Texas personality Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo) also airs live from 5pm-8pm, as does Coast To Coast AM Midnight-4am with a replayed first hour 4am-5am. Delayed airings of Herman Cain (8pm-10pm) and Laura Ingraham (10pm-Midnight) round out the schedule.

KMBZ is the market leader for talk station in Kansas City by a few dozen country miles and has been consistently gaining listeners for some time now. There is some serious strength in the new AM lineup from a national political talk perspective, while the FM station retains the local strength which has pushed KMBZ up the ratings board for some time, so it should be interesting to see how the split stations perform. I expect good results and wish the KMBZ team lots of luck with it all.

I regret that when I visited Kansas City I did not get in to town until late on Friday and thus heard very little of their local programming. Next time will be different.

America’s Morning News extends by an hour, competing directly with all hours of “This Morning with Gordon Deal”
Elsewhere, Talk Radio Network’s America’s Morning News (the morning block of their most-of-the-day syndicated all-news format) is taking advantage of the closure of The Wall Street Journal Radio Network and what, for a while there, looked like the closure of The Wall Street Journal This Morning, by expanding their show by an hour and running 5am-9am Eastern instead of 6am-9am Eastern (This Morning with Gordon Deal runs in hour blocks, live 5am-7am Eastern and repeated 7am-9am Eastern). They have also added a number of affiliates including KDWN 720 AM Las Vegas, boosting the number of affiliates to 160. The show seems to be especially popular among stations outside of the Eastern timezone where it can easily run as a precursor to local morning news/talk programs, and the addition of a 5am Eastern hour makes good sense as it makes it easier for Eastern timezone stations to take the show.

Buckley Radio no longer in radio
Also of some interest to me is that family-owned Buckley Radio has sold its remaining radio assets to Alpha Media. One of the affected stations is KNZR in Bakersfield, California, which is home to Inga Barks among others, and has an interesting and successful format in that the entire morning schedule (except the 5am hour Correction: The 5am hour “First Light with Dirk Van” is a nationally syndicated show after all and runs on KNZR on a three hour delay…it’s amazing how many radio shows can be sustained in the US as it means I’m constantly learning about them) is nationally syndicated programming (Coast To Coast AM, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh) and live and local programming fills all of the afternoon hours. Inga is a great host and often fills in for Mark Levin on his nationally syndicated show. I hope Alpha is kind to Inga and the rest of the Buckley stations…I don’t know about the rest of them but I do know the Bakersfield stations are successful and thus are in good shape to be treated well by the new owners.

2015 is certainly off to a busy start in talk radio in the US. I’m sure there are more changes than I’ve noted, and as is generally the case with this industry, I’m sure there will be many more changes throughout 2015.

Samuel

January 3rd, 2015 at 01:06pm

Fairfax and Macquarie Radio merger officially announced

After a number of failed attempts in recent years, and a heap of speculation over the weekend, the official announcement was made to the stock exchange a short time ago: Fairfax Radio and Macquarie Radio are merging.

The business mechanics of it are a tad complicated, but effectively what is happening is that Macquarie Radio is buying out Fairfax Radio, and paying them with Macquarie shares so that, at the end of the transaction, existing Macquarie shareholders will own 45.5% and existing Fairfax shareholders will own 54.5%. Five directors will be appointed to the board, two each from the existing Macquarie and Fairfax, and one independent.

To deal with the regulatory problem of being able to own only two stations per market, Sydney music station 2CH will be sold. While this sounds simple enough it will pose a few problems with staff at 2CH currently overlapping with staff at 2GB, especially 2CH breakfast presenter Glenn Wheeler who hosts Saturday nights on 2GB and occasionally fills-in on other 2GB shows, and 2CH presenter Kel Richards who is a regular night time fill-in on 2GB. 2GB’s Macquarie Radio News also provides news for 2CH, often in the form of a two-and-a-half minute pre-recorded bulletin. With a merger of the 2GB and 2UE newsrooms, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Macquarie pre-record is dumped in favour of Fairfax’s own three minute pre-recorded national news. Behind the scenes operations could also be adjusted in some way.

Meanwhile 2UE and 2GB face an interesting future for presenters as it seems unlikely from a business standpoint that they will run competing talk formats, and will either further soften 2UE’s format or change it completely. Update 15:21: A leaked email from Fairfax management to Fairfax Radio staff has been posted by Mumbrella, and it notes that 2UE will remain as a News/Talk station. They seem confident that they can grow the audiences of breakfast hosts John Stanley and Garry Linnell, morning host Stuart Bocking, and weekend morning power duo George Moore and Paul B. Kidd, which tells me they do plan on further softening the talk format on 2UE to appeal to a different demographic to 2GB. End Update. If talk is to be removed from 2UE (and that is a big “if”) then it is likely to take up a music format similar to Fairfax’s Magic format in Melbourne and Sydney, which targets similar demographics to 2CH (removed as part of update as this statement is now redundant).

I expect a lot of 2UE personalities will be brought across to 2GB in various degrees, probably as fill-in hosts at first. One which I do wonder about is John Gibbs, host of Sports Today on 2UE, who used to commentate on rugby league matches with Ray Hadley’s Continuous Call Team when it was on 2UE…as I understand it, Ray and John don’t get on as well as they once did, but with a vacancy on the Continuous Call Team caused by the (entirely unnecessary overreaction in my view) sacking of Steve “Blocker” Roach earlier in the year and a need to find efficiencies in the merged entity, it might be inevitable that Ray and John could end up working together again. It is also possible that, when AFL isn’t in the way, 3AW might take Melbourne Storm matches from 2GB, and when NRL isn’t in the way, 2GB might take Sydney Swans matches from 3AW, or perhaps 2UE will just start taking most or all AFL matches from 3AW rather than just Swans finals (although 2UE managed to get out of that contract this year somehow…so who knows).

Elsewhere, Fairfax’s 96FM in Perth is being sold to ARN (reportedly for $78 million). In the merged entity it is the “odd one out” as the only FM music station, so selling it makes sense even though it is not required legally as it does not take the merged entity’s number of stations in Perth over two.

Macquarie’s Queensland regional network (MRRN) will be sold, indicating that the merged entity if interested only in running stations in metropolitan markets. This seems like a shame, but probably makes sense given that Fairfax’s history of running regional stations is abysmal.

What this means for the possibility of the expansion of Ray Hadley and Alan Jones’ shows in to other markets is unclear. My tip is that Ray Hadley’s show will probably air live in to Brisbane on 4BC, especially given a large exodus of talent from 4BC over the last few years amid struggling ratings, and Alan Jones’ one hour highlights program will probably air on the entire network. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ray Hadley’s show is packaged as a highlights show for 3AW Melbourne and 6PR Perth. Whether the new entity will treat sacked 6PR presenter Howard Sattler or sacked 4BC/2UE/2GB presenter Michael Smith any better is a mystery, but one can hope.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Price is moved back to Melbourne and given a show on 3AW. Currently Steve Price has a show on weeknights on 2GB which he sometimes presents from Melbourne and sometimes from Sydney, with the Melbourne broadcast coming from the studios of RSN 927. His co-host for the first hour, Andrew Bolt, also uses those studios, with the lack of visual cues between the two combined with a slightly delay over the interstudio link causing occasionally clunky interactions. I’d expect them to both broadcast from 3AW’s studios from now on, and it wouldn’t surprise me if their show was to broadcast on 2GB and 3AW simultaneously, with possibly 4BC as well. That said, I don’t expect much of 3AW’s lineup to change.

This all hinges on the approval of existing shareholders (a vote will be held in March) and regulatory approval which shouldn’t be difficult given the sales of 96FM, 2CH and MRRN.

Interesting times in talk radio in Australia are certain in 2015.

Samuel

December 22nd, 2014 at 09:44am

An interesting radio interview coming up in about an hour

I have noted on a few occasions that Coast To Coast AM tends to have roughly one interview per month which interests me; today happens to be one of those days with the second half of today’s show.

From 5pm Canberra time / 3am US Eastern / Midnight US Pacific:

With over 20 years of experience in the field of sleep medicine, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, will discuss the science of sleep, and how technology, binge TV watching, and chemicals like energy drinks are changing how our brains function. He’ll address many of the bizarre disorders people experience while they are sound asleep– not only sleepwalking but eating and driving.

A few stations to choose from if, like me, you plan on tuning in:
KMBZ, Kansas City
News/Talk 95.3 MNC, South Bend, Indiana
WCBM, Baltimore

Samuel

July 31st, 2014 at 04:02pm

Friday Funnies: Sandy Roberts goes to Commentator Heaven

Fox Footy released a promo this week for Sandy Roberts’ return to television AFL commentary later this year, and it amused me quite a bit. I really enjoy Sandy commentating and have enjoyed having him on the radio over the last few years…I’m happy that his commentary will once again reach a wider audience on television though.

The fact that heaven in this case has AFL goal posts, and Sandy even lets out an “Oh my hat!” is brilliant. The apparent implication from the promo that Kevin Bartlett has also joined Fox as a commentator is also great news (but I hope he can still call games for SEN).

Incidentally, when Sandy left Seven last year, I wrote him a letter to express my gratitude for all he has done for sport on television and radio over the years and to wish him all the best for his next career stage at Fox Footy (I also said that I hope this doesn’t prevent him from doing some radio commentary still, as I think he works really well with both Rex Hunt and Peter Donegan). In the letter, I sent Sandy the lyrics for a song…back in the 1990s, John Laws had a jingle produced which started with the lines “Life ain’t so tough when there’s Lawsie / He’s good news to me” and he still uses it to this day. Alas I don’t have the audio on me to demonstrate the concept, but I adapted the song for Sandy.

Golf isn’t golf without Sandy
He’s on-par to me!
He can take a bogey
And turn it in to a birdie
And at the Aussie Rules
He sits next to the fat lady
She can start to croon
And “oh my hat” comes out of Sandy

He’s the voice of the golf you can trust
He’ll keep you going when you’re in the rough

I’ve got Sandy commentating
(trumpets sound)
Sandy commentating
(trumpets sound)
He’s a putter
He’s a driver
He’ll keep you out of the bunker
Ooon the front nine
(trumpets sound)
Aaand the back nine
(trumpets sound)
Sandy’s commentating!

I kind of hope that Sandy quietly let out an “oh my hat” when he read that.

Samuel

(h/t David Knox, TV Tonight for bringing my attention to the promo)

February 15th, 2014 at 04:44am

My visit to TWiT; how Leo Laporte uses Tim Tams; and how to download a small portion of a Justin.tv video

I had great fun visiting the studios of TWiT.tv (known as the TWiT Brick House) yesterday. I had all the photos ready to go for this blog post yesterday afternoon, but ironically ran in to a technical hurdle when I realised that there was some video as well. I’ll get to that shortly…but first…

The TWiT Brick House as seen from the other side of Keller St, Petaluma
The TWiT Brick House as seen from the other side of Keller St, Petaluma

The studios are located at 140 Keller St, Petaluma. TWiT’s wiki provides helpful directions, but it was easier to find than I expected. The building is quite distinctive on this street and the recommended parking garage which is listed on the site is about half a minute’s walk from the studios. I took a little longer than that to walk from my car to TWiT though as I took a detour to the other side of the road to take that photo.

I got there a little earlier than I had expected, a tad before 10am.

When I got inside, staff were discussing a lighting issue with some contractors, and accidentally turned off a bunch of lights in the studio in the process. Staff were busy, so I filled out the mandatory waiver and waited a few moments until they were less busy and could take me through. The studio portion of the building takes up a tad over half of the floor space, with other rooms taking up the other side of the building in an upside-down L shape with studio entrances behind reception next to the roundtable set, and another around the back near Leo’s office/set, and a kitchen and toilets. The place actually looks bigger to me in real life than it does on screen. It is quite an impressive setup.

Tech News Today with Mike Elgan was about to start when I took a seat.

Tech News Today with Mike Elgan being filmed on February 12, 2014
Tech News Today with Mike Elgan being filmed on February 12, 2014

One thing which was impressed me was how little of this news program was scripted. Story introductions and some questions were scripted, but most of Mike’s questions were not scripted. I might just be a bit too used to Australian news formats where questions are generally scripted, so it was nice to see proof of an anchor who truly understands the subject matter.

Just off to the right of the set from the perspective of where I was seated is another set which is used for The Giz Wiz among other shows. The program feed which was going out for broadcast was visible on the main screen on this set.
Tech News Today with Mike Elgan being filmed on February 12, 2014

And if I walked a little way down the Giz Wiz set and looked across where Mike Elgan was seated, Leo’s office/set can be seen through the window, and on this side of that glass is where his weekend show’s call screener Heather Hamann sits. At the far-left of the photo a large analog clock can be seen. This is on the back wall of the studio portion of the building, and is quite an attractive feature of that wall, but is sadly obscured by other objects in the wide shot of the studio used between shows on the live stream.
Tech News Today with Mike Elgan being filmed on February 12, 2014

Throughout the filming of Tech News Today, I had wanted to get my digital SLR camera out, but alas I could not as opening the velcro pouch would make too much noise and I did not want to interrupt or interfere with the broadcast. So I waited until after the show finished, only to discover that it was a waste of time as it could not handle the large variations in light levels of different bits of the room and was either giving me good images of peripheral bits of the set with bright white people and random bright white objects, or it was giving me great images of the main focal points of the show, with almost black everywhere else. This might be fixable if I spent enough time playing with the camera’s settings, but I didn’t go to TWiT to play with my camera.

It was also interesting to note that for this show, the remote side of the conversation can be heard aloud without the need for headphones.

Shortly after this I proceeded to Leo’s office/set where he was preparing for Windows Weekly #349 with Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley. Leo’s set is awesome to be a visitor in, as the guest seating is extremely comfortable and the wireless headphones are also very comfortable (even for someone like me for whom many headphones cause the frame of my glasses to dig in to my head).
Leo Laporte, Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley prepare to film Windows Weekly #349 on February 12, 2014

I’ve never noticed the monitor on the front of Leo’s desk before (it’s never really in shot, presumably so as to avoid a visual loop effect) which makes it easy as a visitor to see how what is happening in front of you is being packaged for broadcast.

Leo Laporte, Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley prepare to film Windows Weekly #349 on February 12, 2014

Over this side of the room, behind the visitor chairs, is a monitor following the TWiT.TV IRC chat session, and the line and preview monitors of the Tricaster vision switcher which is important as Leo switches his own shows when they are being produced from his office/set, whereas other shows are switched from a central control centre in the middle of the TWiT set. Two of the cameras are visible here (one for Leo’s solo shot, and the other for the “Leo plus Skype monitor” shot. On the other side of the glass is where Heather Hamman screens calls for Leo’s weekend radio show and also is the location of the set used by Tech News Today, and then on the far wall, a collection of hats which I was very happy to see for a reason I’ll explain in just a moment.

Leo Laporte, Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley prepare to film Windows Weekly #349 on February 12, 2014

On this side of the set you can see another camera (the one which faces the window so that Heather Hamman can be on-camera) and at the top right of the bookcase is a dropcam producing a live feed on the internet at most hours.

After Windows Weekly finished, I presented Leo with some gifts. One was an Australia hat (Leo’s collection of hats pleased me as I knew then that I was giving a hat to a connoisseur of hats. I also gave Leo some Tim Tams, which led to Leo demonstrating his favourite way of eating a Tim Tam…biting off the ends and then drinking his coffee or tea through the Tim Tam as if it was a straw. I thought by this stage the live stream had switched to the next set (I had stopped paying attention to the monitors by this stage) and only later, to my pleasant surprise, realised that Leo’s Tim Tam demonstration, our little chat, and a quick photo shoot, had been broadcast.


(h/t TWiT.tv. Video distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US) licence)

We chatted about a few things including the time I had Leo on Samuel’s Persiflage, the top I was wearing (seeing as Leo has had some fun with the stories about the NSA spying on everyone and everything, I wore a hoodie with the message “The NSA: the only part of government that actually listens”…I also wore my Linux.Conf.Au 2005 t-shirt as it has a staged IRC session on the back of it which I thought Leo would enjoy, but I was having so much fun that I forgot to show him), and how interesting and mind-bending it is to get used driving on the other side of the road. The conversation was picked up to some degree at first by Leo’s studio microphone, and then later by an open mic in another part of the building. I left it all in the above video for posterity.

Now, for what is now a treasured item:
Samuel Gordon-Stewart with Leo Laporte on February 12, 2014

It was an honour and lots of fun to meet Leo and spend some time in the TWiT Brick House. As always, Leo went out of his way to make sure it was fun…while we had our photo taken he put on an Australian accent…I was too amused to remember exactly what he said but it certainly amused me.
Samuel Gordon-Stewart with Leo Laporte on February 12, 2014

One other mystery which was solved yesterday is the purpose of the symbol on Leo’s clock next to the top half of the final digit of the minutes. I’ve never watched in high definition so couldn’t identify it, but now I know it indicates the Pacific timezone, with the other US timezones not being illuminated.
The clock in Leo Laporte's office

I had a blast. A very big thank you to Leo and all of the TWiT.tv staff.

If you’re ever in the area, may I recommend Halli’s diner opposite the parking garage about half a minute’s walk away from the TWiT Brick House. Absolutely fantastic lunch and lovely staff. I will probably pop in to the diner again today as I would like to do some sightseeing around Petaluma today, and the old TWiT studio (TWiT Cottage) is a short distance from the current studio, and I would like to see it while remaining respectful of the privacy of the new occupants.

Now, that technical challenge I mentioned at the top.

How to download a particular portion of a long video from Justin.tv
One of the video streaming providers for TWiT, Justin.tv, temporarily keeps an archive of everything they stream (the archived video lasts a few days). While it is preferable to record the live video as it is a much simpler process, TWiT’s wiki also details how to download from Justin.tv’s archive.

The basic idea is that, using Firefox and an extension called Downloadhelper, you go to the Justin.tv video you want to watch and then tell Downloadhelper to download that file. The problem though is two-fold:
1) TWiT’s videos on Justin.tv run for many hours as they cover an entire day’s broadcasts and sometimes more (my clip, for example, was 52 hours in to the video).
2) This method only downloads the first half hour of the video.

The solution, until recently, was to mark a section of the video as a highlight, which gave it its own unique URL which Downloadhelper could use to download just that portion of the video. Alas the highlighting function was removed from Justin.tv about a week ago, meaning that downloading the first half hour of the video seemed to be the only option…so how do you make Downloadhelper download a half hour starting at a time of your choosing rather than the start of the video?

A clue comes in the way Justin.tv handles a request to move playout from the existing window to another separate window. It adds a string to the end of the URL to tell the new window at what point in the video to start (although the Downloadhelper plugin is not easily accessible from such a window, so simply opening a popout window at your chosen starting point is not going to work for this purpose).

Instead, open the video as normal and figure out what point you want to start downloading from. Then, work out how many seconds that is (in my case it was a little short of 186,960 seconds) and then add the following string to the end of the URL in the address bar:
/popout?playback_time=SECONDS
where “SECONDS” is replaced by the number of seconds.

So, for example, in my case the address of the video went from

http://www.justin.tv/twit/b/502307186

to

http://www.justin.tv/twit/b/502307186/popout?playback_time=186960

which allowed me to make Downloadhelper download 30 minutes of video from a starting point of my choice, and I was then able to edit the video to my required duration.

Samuel

1 comment February 14th, 2014 at 01:25am

Some recommended weekend viewing

Just after the beginning of the year, C-SPAN Book TV’s “In Depth” program spent their monthly show interviewing author, constitutional lawyer, and radio host Mark Levin. This show sits down with a non-fiction author each month to discuss their books, subjects related to their books, and a little bit of the personal life of the author.

Peter Slen interviewing Mark Levin on C-SPAN Book TV's In Depth programMark Levin has written a number of best-selling books on the current state of U.S. politics, governance, and society, and on his ideas for solutions to the problems facing America. In Mark’s most recent book “The Liberty Amendments” he proposes a few amendments to the U.S. constitution which he believes would address some problems by making government more closely resemble what the framers of the constitution envisaged, and in the process make society freer. The book goes in to some details as to how Mark’s proposals fit in with the historical writings of deliberations of the Framers. As this is his most recent book and also his most solution-filled book, Book TV made it the “book of the month” for their book club and more time is spent on this book in the interview than any of the others.

Mark has also written a more personal book titled “Rescuing Sprite” which is a story about a dog (Sprite) which Mark and his family rescued from a shelter…the book details how they dealt with some of the health issues which arose from abuse and neglect which Sprite received prior to being rescued and how they overcame some of these issues. The book also, quite candidly, deals with the difficult subject of having to put Sprite down, as well as some details about some of the other dogs in Mark’s life. I read this book a few years ago (and have read most of Mark’s other books) and found it difficult to read emotionally, but also quite comforting in helping me deal with Nattie’s death last year. I was pleased to hear Mark say during the interview that, when he retires, he would like to permanently work rescuing dogs from abuse and neglect.

The interview goes for three hours. There are no commercial breaks although the interview does stop for a break roughly each hour, in which time they run some pre-recorded packages about Mark. The first roughly 40 minutes is conducted as a straight interview, and after this the interview continues but also contains callers asking Mark questions. It is a very worthwhile three hours of viewing and I found it to be very interesting and thought-provoking.

The interview (minus about the last minute) is available on YouTube as embedded above, although it should be noted that the YouTube version was uploaded by a third-party and contains some video glitches. There is a much cleaner version available on the C-SPAN website (and the Book TV website), but it can not be embedded here as they have disabled that function. It can, however, be purchased from the website in DVD or Audio CD format…I enjoyed the interview enough to purchase it on DVD.

I hope you find it as interesting as I did. I had already planned on taking some of Mark’s books with me to read on my US trip (along with some other books) but after this interview I plan on taking another one along as well as there were a few points raised in the interview which made me want to revisit some of Mark’s earlier work…but that’s a story for another day.

Samuel

January 26th, 2014 at 12:19am

Sean Hannity would make a good US President

When I selected a few people recently who I would support if they chose to run for the presidency of the United States, I deliberately did not select radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity as I didn’t think there was any serious chance of him running, especially not in 2016. While I still think he won’t run in 2016, it does look like his interest in running for public office is increasing in the wake of his decision to (eventually) leave New York state after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that “ultra-conservatives” are not welcome in the state.

A source who was on Hannity’s Fox News show last fall told The Hill the conservative commentator mentioned the possibility — off camera — of running in Florida.

“He wasn’t joking,” the source said. “It was definitive, but he didn’t mention a specific office in Florida.”
On his radio show, Hannity said he “can’t wait” to leave New York in the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) remarks that extreme conservatives have “no place” in the Empire State.

Hannity, a native New Yorker, has repeatedly ripped the state’s tax rates. He said he would move to Texas or Florida, which don’t have state income taxes.
[..]
During an appearance on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” Fox show Tuesday night, Hannity said his departure isn’t imminent.

Hannity noted his son is still in high school, and he has more than 100 staffers who work on his television and radio shows, suggesting it would be irresponsible to immediately move his media operation elsewhere.

He added, “As soon as I am able, some time probably when my son graduates from high school, I’m getting out of here as quick as I can.”

(h/t The Hill’s Bob Cusack)

Sean Hannity is an interesting creature in conservative circles in that he is one of the few genuinely conservative people who is both unafraid of standing by his convictions and has good friends in the more moderate “establishment wing” of the Republican Party. As such, Hannity could be one of the few people who could unify the GOP behind a truly conservative platform.

I have been critical of Sean in the past for giving some of his moderate Republican guests (especially regular guests like Karl Rove) a bit too much room to explain their point of view without challenging it, which isn’t to say that he doesn’t eventually challenge it, but I have thought he has sometimes left a few too many points unaddressed, however I have noticed that he has been much more strident in his promotion of conservative principles and solutions ever since his radio contract negotiations were finalised and he gave his Cumulus Radio affiliates the heave-ho in favour of Clear Channel affiliates. I put this down to not having to expend energy on contract negotiations, and not having to deal with pressure from Cumulus to be a bit more moderate in his views.

I think Sean would do a good job as US President and would be especially effective at “rallying the troops” in the House and Senate to support his conservative agenda. His lack of governing experience could be made up for with a good Vice President and also by his business experience. I’m not convinced that Sean would greatly enjoy the job, but I think he would be very effective.

That said, he has made no mention of a run for President and seems instead to be giving consideration to some other public office such as a congressional seat. I think Sean’s talents would be wasted in Congress or in a state government (although after two terms as President I would love to see him become a state Governor…but after, not before) as his ability to influence public policy from the media on a national scale is of much greater importance and value to the nation than his ability to be a conservative vote in the House or Senate, or to reform a state. If he is to run for office, then I think his talents dictate that the most suitable office is the top job.

But as much as I would like to see it, I doubt it will happen, and certainly not before 2024. He will be 63-years-old in 2024 so it’s not out of the question, but I rate the chances of it happening as being quite low.

Samuel

January 24th, 2014 at 05:37am

Bigger Better Bolt Report

Update 6:59pm: Andrew has since noted that his show is now delayed by a month due to Ten’s coverage of the Winter Olympics. It looks like I might not be in the country for the start of it after all. End Update

Andrew Bolt has posted some exciting news on his blog. The Bolt Report returns to Channel Ten on the 2nd of February and has been expanded from half an hour to a full hour. Andrew hinted at this at the end of last year, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

He has also dropped a hint about a new segment on his show. The segment will “balance something on the ABC” which sounds to me as if he is taking his “Media Watch” segment from his Monday evening radio appearance and putting something similar to it on his TV show. Perhaps he can get Gerard Henderson to be a contributor to this new segment.

I’m pleased to see Andrew returning in February. His show is great, and I’ll get to see two episodes before I head off overseas. Hopefully the videos of it on the News Limited website are locked down to just Australia as, if I get time, I would like to watch the show while I’m overseas.

Samuel

January 21st, 2014 at 05:27am

Uh oh…worrying US billionaire George Soros is taking an interest in Australian media

George Soros is a bit of a worry. He’s clearly a smart (albeit wrong on many subjects) man, and the timing of many of his moves have been interesting, but today’s move is one of the most interesting and worrying ones I’ve seen in a while.

George Soros is taking an interest in the Nine network, and is set to become a shareholder of the network today, along with a few others. Nine needs new investors because it has a lot of debt. George Soros can certainly help to fix that…he is a billionaire after all, but when he gets involved, things are never quite as they seem, especially when he is involved in media.

To many Australians, I would imagine George Soros is not a name they recognise. Some would, but for many he would just be recognised as yet another rich foreigner. Alas George is not just any rich foreigner.

George has “progressive” (I’d put him firmly in the socialist bracket) views and isn’t afraid to use his wealth in intriguing ways to promote his views. Now, I don’t begrudge the man his views, and I don’t begrudge him the right to advocate his views or to spend his money how he sees fit…rather, I just think it’s important that Australians are brought up to speed on who and what he is before he gets his hooks in to the Australian media, especially given the timing of his announcement.

Over in the US, George funds many “progressive” groups. He funds some non-political things too, but in the category of politically-active groups, the ones he funds seem to all do three things:
1) Defend the Obama administration and any other “progressive” politician. This includes attempting to cover up the scandals and failures, or if that isn’t possible, excuse them.
2) Viciously and mostly-falsely smear anyone who opposes “progressives”. The play book for this is very long. They’ve gone as far as paying people to pursue fake sexual harassment claims against people until such people stop actively opposing them.
3) Deny vigorously that George Soros has any influence over their activities. This might be believable if they didn’t all do it.

The timing of George’s little entrance in to the Australian media is interesting. George tends not to be overtly involved in owning bits of the media as his non-media interests seem to do a good job, and by having a less-obvious stake in some media outlets he can have them maintain the appearance of impartiality when they side with this other groups, so I’m not entirely sure why he’s being so overt about this purchase, but I have a theory which I’ll get to in a moment.

But first, Nine and Britain’s Daily Mail recently announced that they plan on jointly launching an Australian online version of The Daily Mail to compete with The Guardian’s Australian website. From a political perspective, Nine is reasonably respectable brand and, overall, has seemingly balanced reporting even if a few reporters to lean one way or the other…there is no blatantly obvious institutional bias like there is with the ABC and Fairfax. The Daily Mail has, despite being in Britain, been ahead of the pack on many stories, and broken other stories, about problems and scandals within the Obama administration. It would probably be fair to say that, with The Guardian catering for the left-wing audience, the Australian version of the Daily Mail would (when not indulging in tabloid fluff and entertainment stories) cater to a centre-right audience given their UK history and Nine’s existing brand.

George Soros’ entry in to the Australian market is worrying from the perspective that we already have two overtly left-wing television broadcasters (ABC and SBS) and more left-wing newsish websites and papers (Fairfax, Guardian, The Conversation, Mamamia) than I care to count. The he could be trying to pull Nine out of a state of relative balance or prevent the Daily Mail from being the ideological opposition to The Guardian in Australia that it is in the UK is worrying.

And while I think that is probably part of the game plan from Soros, I think it might also be a warning shot across the bow of The Daily Mail’s British operations as well. At the moment, the Obama administration is in chaos, mainly due to Obamacare being a disaster, but for other reasons as well, and there is a good (not certain by any means, but certainly a better than average) chance that the Republicans…and not just Republicans but truly conservative Republicans could take the House and the Senate in next year’s mid-term elections, potentially giving them the power if they have enough numbers, to override Presidential vetoes and undo much of Obama’s mess. This would be bad for George Soros as Obama is doing a pretty good job from a progressive point of view, especially with Obamacare…it’s a system designed to fail so that progressives can swoop in with a single-payer (aka, entirely government run and taxpayer funded) health system, and all of the associated socialist programs and policies which that can bring with it in the name of “health”. It’s a gigantic socialist government power-grab, and it’s on its way to working, unless Conservatives can stop it soon.

I suspect that part of the reason George Soros is being so visible in his purchase of part of Nine, is that he wants to scare the executives at The Daily Mail, and make sure they know that he could probably buy them out if he wanted to, and if they want him and his groups to leave them alone, then perhaps they should just stop being so good at reporting stories before much of the mainstream US media notices them.

Regardless of the motive, his entry in to the market is a concern, and one which those of us on the conservative side of the aisle should keep an eye on.

Samuel

December 5th, 2013 at 02:03pm

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