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ABC overhauls radio lineup with revamped local programs and cuts to current affairs

The ABC has drastically revamped its radio lineup with changes to breakfast, afternoon and drive slots across its local radio network along with cuts to current affairs programming and changes to capital city breakfast shows.

Director of ABC Radio, Michael Mason, said the changes to the program schedule reflected changing audience needs and follows the broadcaster’s restructure announced by managing director, Michelle Guthrie, last month.

Michael Mason, ABC director of radio: “A broader mix of quality local news and information”

The evening PM current affairs show will now only be a half hour segment which, Mason claims, brings it into line with the flagship AM morning program.

“We’ve seen a marked shift to longer commute times towards the end of the working day. On weekdays, more than three-quarters of people listen to radio in the car,” Mason said. “We know that our metropolitan audiences are seeking a broader mix of quality local news and information at that time relevant to their commute home.”

Lunchtime current affairs will also be cut with The World Today running from 12.00pm to 12.30pm instead of its current hour. The new editions of both The World Today and PM start on air from January 2.

The key breakfast and morning slots will now be consolidated in all capital stations except for Melbourne. In Sydney this will see Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer presenting a 6.00am to 10.00am show, while in Brisbane Rebecca Livingston and Craig Zonca will present in the same time slot.

In Melbourne, Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah will co-host a 5.30am to 7.45am program. Adelaide and Canberra will keep their separate shows but with a half hour ‘cross over’ between programs.

Perth will also see a merged breakfast and morning program with Peter Bell and new host Paula Kruger hosting at 6.00am to 9.00am.

The afternoon and drive metro programs will be shifted by one hour to run from 2.00pm to 4.00pm and 4.00pm to 6.30pm respectively.

“The changes to these programs allow us to free up resources to develop more in-depth and investigative journalism for use across all our broadcast platforms,” Mason said.

“There will be more local current affairs from ABC News teams in our local radio drive programs and additional resources will also be put into more timely news and current affairs podcasts as well as longer form digital storytelling, which is where we’re seeing the strongest audience growth.”

The slot freed up by The World Today’s reduced slot will see a national talk program in the 12.30pm to 2pm metro slot hosted by Myf Warhurst who moves from digital station Double J.

The ABC’s over-30s digital radio station Double J will feature six new presenters in a shake up to its program lineup.

In the 2018 lineup, former Triple J presenter Zan Rowe – whose move was announced earlier this week – will host mornings while presenter and musician Tim Shiel will have an expanded role at the station in taking over the afternoon slot.

On JJJ, Rowe is being replaced on mornings by Linda Marigliano. The broadcaster’s youth network is the least affected by the changes.

Radio National will see a new daily arts program, The Hub, along with a new books program, The Bookshelf.

Also added to RN’s line up will be Regional Radio’s new 25-minute current affairs program, which takes a look at issues of interest in regional and rural Australia on weeknights from 7.35pm.

Director of ABC Regional, Fiona Reynolds, said the new 25-minute regional national current affairs program would be broadcast on all regional stations from 6.05pm to 6.30pm weekdays before being replayed on Radio National and Radio Australia at the later time.

“Our new current affairs program provides audiences, particularly those living in regional Australia, with a mix of news and information from across the country at the end of the day,” Reynolds said.

“Regional Australians have told us that they want to know what matters to people in other communities and have a say in national conversations.

“The new show builds on our commitment to reflecting the whole of Australia in our news and information, which has never been stronger. Earlier this year, we announced Connecting Communities – a $15.4 million annual funding boost for regional content and services, creating up to 80 new reporter, producer and presenter roles. More than half of these jobs have been filled and recruitment is underway across the nation for the remaining positions.

“In addition, $4 million is being spent on new tools and equipment to enable our regional teams to produce more digital and video content for local and national audiences.”

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