ARN and Nova announce Easter programming schedules, with Nova talent to remain on air

Radio stations across the country are shaking up their programming across the Easter period, in many cases rejecting the tradition of key on-air talent disappearing for survey break. Instead, many shows will continue to run as normal, as the industry and consumers face a new normal with people working from home, isolated and without many social activities due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The recent announcements from Nova and Australian Radio Network (ARN) come as industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) decided last decided last week that the field work necessary to gather the survey results was not safe in the context of ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions. Survey two will still be released next week and cover 9 to 29 February and 1 March to 4 April, but surveys three, four and five (due in June, July and August) are on hold.

The pause of survey results is another difficulty for radio companies struggling to stay profitable as advertising revenue evaporates due to COVID-19 pressures. Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has introduced 10% pay cuts for employees earning more than $68,000, directed staff to take accrued leave, begun raising $169m in equity, and flagged further cost cuts.

ARN has also announced on-air talent including Kyle Sandilands, Jackie ‘O’ Henderson, Brendan ‘Jonesy’ Jones, Christian O’Connell and Amanda Keller will take a minimum pay cut of 10% to help the business weather revenue impacts of the pandemic, while continuing to work five-day weeks. Other staff have been moved to four-day weeks, with management and board salaries reduced by 20%.

The programs on ARN’s stations – which include Kiis FM and Gold – will change somewhat over Easter, as a number of those hosts take leave.

The network is adding a national ‘Kiis – House of Hits’ show over the break from 7-9pm on weekdays, and again at 11am during the ‘$10K Ten in a Row’ promotion.

Will and Woody and 3pm Pick Up will be taking a break, playing favourite highlights across their 4-6pm and 3-4pm slots, respectively, before returning on Monday, 20 April.

In Melbourne, breakfast duo Jase and PJ will also have some time off, returning on Tuesday, 14 April, after the long weekend, with extended hours. The pair will now host the 6am to 10am slot.

In the same market, on sister station Gold 104.3, Christian O’Connell will also mostly be off-air, with memorable moments playing in his breakfast slot instead, but ARN said O’Connell will be on-air at times across the break to “continue supporting the community through these times”.

ARN’s network of brands

It’s a similar situation for Kyle and Jackie O in Sydney. The best moments will be played from the breakfast show, with the ‘Kyle & Jackie O Hour of Power’ extended at 8am, 12pm and 6pm. The Beat The Bomb promotion has returned, running all day from 8am. And on WSFM, ‘Jonesy & Amanda’s Light Relief’ will run the top moments of 2020 so far.

In Brisbane, the Robin, Terry and Bob breakfast show will continue to air as usual, with extended hours from 5:30am to 10am. Adelaide’s Jodie and Soda breakfast show, with Erin Phillips, on Mix 102.3 will also extend its hours from 6am to 10am in the lead up to Easter, while Cruise 1323’s John Dean will return on 14 April, seeing Dave Howard fill in from 6 to 9 April.

And in Perth, Fred Botica and Lisa Shaw will continue to broadcast Botica’s Bunch for Breakfast on 96FM across the break, from 6am to 10am.

National content director Duncan Campbell said ARN is preparing its upcoming broadcast schedule assuming that the state-specific lockdowns stretch on for months.

“As we manoeuvre through these dynamic times, we’re committed to delivering our audiences the very best content to provide community, connection and some normality,” Campbell said.

“As we all play our part in protecting our communities by following [the] government’s recommendations, we’re conscious that these lockdown conditions may go on for some months. With this long-term scenario in mind, our broadcasting schedule is being prepared accordingly.

“Each of our shows have decided if they’ll work through this short survey break, knowing that they’ll be broadcasting through these unusual times for months to come.

“Our teams across the country will continue to deliver outstanding content that connects and resonates with listeners, providing entertainment, comfort and assurance, be it via broadcast, on-demand, or digital.”

At Nova, meanwhile, on-air teams will continue as normal throughout the two week survey break, including Kate, Tim and Marty in drive, and Smallzy’s Surgery at night.

Nova’s drivetime hosts Kate, Tim and Marty will continue to broadcast as usual over Easter

In a statement, the company said its “teams recognise the important role radio plays during this challenging time, to not only inform and entertain, but also to provide some normality and consistency for listeners during a time of continual change”. 

“In particular Nova’s breakfast teams in each state will continue to support local businesses, the community and clients, providing the latest updates and information, as well as delivering a laugh and much needed escape during this difficult time,” the statement read.

Chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson added that listeners need, and will be turning to, radio now more than ever.

“Listeners turn to us during significant events for companionship and to hear familiar voices. Our listeners need us right now, to help them feel ‘normal’, whatever that now means,” he said.

“There is a strong desire as humans to feel like we’re a part of something and we’re hearing from so many of our listeners (most in isolation) how much it means to them to still be able to wake up and continue to listen to their favourite shows throughout the day.

“Our role is not only to keep them informed but also to be their escape and distraction from all of the anxiety currently filling our news feeds. Our environment is changing so rapidly that it is important to our announcers to continue this role during the break.”

Nova did not respond to Mumbrella’s questions about whether it has turned, or will turn, to pay cuts, forced leave, stand downs, or redundancies in response to COVID-19.


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