‘A couple who’s been divorced who get on very well’: Jane Kennedy on working with Mick Molloy and sticking with talent for the ‘long haul’

2020 marks Triple M's 40th anniversary. Comedian, actor and radio host Jane Kennedy has become 'part of the furniture' over those years, most recently returning in 2017 as co-host of drive-time show, Kennedy Molloy. Here, she tells Mumbrella's Brittney Rigby why working with 'stirrer' Mick Molloy is like 'going into combat', how Have You Been Paying Attention? works because it doesn't cave into 'PC world', and why she could be friends with the women who listen to male-skewed Triple M.

“Two good mates shit stirring each other.” That’s how Jane Kennedy thinks Triple M listeners would describe her drive show with comedian and long-time friend, Mick Molloy.

Molloy is the “number one stirrer”, but she thinks that’s a good thing; it’s improved her own “stirring chops”. But it does mean going to work feels “like going into combat sometimes, every day, in a funny way”. And it also means she has to be careful – very careful – about what she tells him, and when. She learned that the hard way.

“[It was maybe] the first time we were on-air and I said something off-air that I didn’t want him to say on-air and he did say it on-air,” Kennedy recalls.

“I’m very selective about what I say because he’s A+, really, at pressing my buttons. Knows how to shake it up with me very well. 

“There are very much moments where I do wait to tell him [a story] when we’re on-air. So we try not to talk too much just before we go and do the show, that’s for sure, so it can be fresh.”

Kennedy Molloy has been Triple M’s drive-time fixture since late 2017, but Kennedy has been “part of the network for many, many years”. She was in the office the day it was rebranded from EON FM in 1988 – “I am part of the furniture in that respect” – and she’s here in 2020, the year of the station’s 40th anniversary. She doesn’t know Southern Cross Austereo’s plan to celebrate the occasion yet, but Molloy’s own plan to get her back on radio came as a surprise too.

The pair have been friends for 30 years, and, at a social function, Molloy – then Triple M’s breakfast host – presented her with the idea: ‘I want to go back to drive-time. Join me.’

“We kind of saw it as just an extension of our normal social life but just with the microphone there all the time,” Kennedy says. (As Molloy said at the time they were announced as Merrick Watts’ replacement: “I imagine the show will be a lot like my usual conversations with Jane minus a couple of good bottles of vino.”)

“And it feels incredibly natural,” Kennedy continues. “Although, there are times where I believe I continually surprise Mick, and he says, ‘I didn’t know you did that’. Or ‘I’ve never heard of that before in my life’, things like that. And the same back to him. I go, ‘When did you do that?’ So we like surprising each other.

“We also realise that you just can’t put a microphone on between any two people having a conversation. We understand that we need to heighten each other’s personality to make it entertaining and to make good radio.”

Balancing each other out. Making an effort to surprise each other. Kennedy and Molloy sound like a married couple trying to keep the romance alive.

“Or maybe we’re just a couple who’s been divorced who get on very well,” she laughs.

That chemistry translates just as well on-screen as it does over the airwaves. While Kennedy rose to fame as Brooke Vandenberg on Frontline, the 90s ABC show satirising the world of current affairs reporting, these days she’s familiar to viewers of Ten’s Have You Been Paying Attention? (HYBPA), the weekly quiz show that blends comedy and news. 

Kennedy and Molloy are both regular guests on the program hosted by Tom Gleisner – “the most unlikely, awesome host, I think, in Australia” – and produced by Working Dog, a company her and her husband co-founded (and which has also produced the likes of Frontline, Thank God You’re Here, The Castle and The Dish).


Kennedy thinks HYBPA works because “it looks like a simple show because it’s a host and five people behind a desk, but all the people who are behind the desk are at the top of their game in comedy and entertainment”.

“Also I think the show’s irreverent and it’s not caving into PC [politically correct] world, which I like,” she says.

Perhaps Kennedy Molloy works for the same reason. The show had an “off-Broadway” trial run in Melbourne from October 2017 to January 2018, before being syndicated to 30 markets nationally. Kennedy says they “wanted to see if what we thought could work would work”. 

And it did.

They’re happy with their ratings (across all five metro markets) but are “committed to making sure that we can make money for the network”, so they’d “love to get more and more listeners if we can”. 

In Sydney, the duo held a 5.7% share in the most recent survey, well behind Will and Woody’s 9.7% on Kiis FM and ABC Sydney on 9.3%, but ahead of 2Day FM’s 5.1%. 

In the same slot in Melbourne, which 3AW dominates on 12.2%, Kennedy Molloy sits on a 7.6% share, while Brisbane (fourth on 10.9%), Perth (second on 13.7% in a slot they split with The Rush Hour With Dave, which runs from 3pm-5pm followed by Kennedy Molloy from 5pm-7pm), and Adelaide (6.6%) show just how the different markets respond to the show.

The way to improve those shares further this year – the first survey’s results will be released on 10 March – is patience, Kennedy thinks. And she’s lucky to have found that in Triple M, a station she says understands that, in a landscape littered with constant lineup and format changes, the best strategy is actually to stick with magnetic talent and wait for an audience to be pulled in, slowly but surely.

“We’re really lucky that Triple M, I believe, have a vested interest in us for the long haul,” Kennedy muses.

“We feel that it takes years to really change and get people on board and to come on over.”

While it’s “no secret” Triple M’s target audience is male, Kennedy says the listeners “com[ing] on over” are increasingly women, and women she relates to and cares about at that.

“Women who listen to Triple M are naturally confident, independent, appreciate music, appreciate rock, go to see live music,” she concludes.

“They’re women that I would like to spend time with.”

And, every evening, through speakers across the country, she does.


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