Commercial radio’s biggest shakeup in years: Previewing 2021’s breakfast selections

Ahead of the first radio ratings period of 2021 kicking off next week, Mumbrella's Zanda Wilson runs the rule over all the new and refreshed shows set to debut, and suggests what a successful year would look like for each offering.

After a few solid years of relatively stable breakfast offerings across most metro markets, 2021 is set to be a big refresh across Australian commercial radio, with new or refreshed lineups debuting in every city.

No less than eight new commercial breakfast shows will debut this year. Most are coming from Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), but there’ll also be new shows on Australian Radio Network (ARN) and Nine Radio.

Even Nova Entertainment, who are sticking with their breakfast lineups across the capital cities, will be under the industry microscope after launching a new show in their drive slot mid-way through 2020.

So ahead of the first ratings period kicking off next Monday, 18 January, we run the rule over all the new and refreshed shows set to debut, and suggest what a successful year would look like for each.


Fox FM – Fifi, Brendan and Nick

SCA is taking a more conservative approach at Melbourne’s Fox FM, with Fifi Box and Brendan Fevola to continue in breakfast alongside comedian Nick Cody. Cody was well-liked with audiences at his last gig on Triple M Brisbane, and should add a new element to the show as he replaces long-serving anchor and presenter Byron Cooke.

Fox has been one of SCA’s strongest brands over the past decade, and the breakfast show was consistently topping the FM ratings in Melbourne as recently as 2019 with some mammoth double-digit ratings shares. Cody could well be the lick of paint the show needs to feel fresher as Melbournians get back to normal listening habits, having spent large chunks of last year in lockdown.

Triple M Melbourne – Marty Sheargold

If you could take a time machine back 12 months to the start of 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic was being felt in Australia, to tell radio people that in a year’s time Marty Sheargold would have quit the multi-ACRA winning Kate, Tim and Marty drive show on Nova, few would have given you the time of day.

It may have been even less believable if you’d then tried to convince folk that he’d go on to replace Eddie McGuire on Triple M Melbourne breakfast, and yet, here we are. Replacing a show that fundamentally changed the way people thought about breakfast radio over the last decade will be no easy feat, but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Marty Sheargold.

He knows the market well, he knows the Triple M audience. It’s an interesting move, however, not having ‘Shiggsy’ alongside a named co-host, because his best moments in recent years have undoubtedly come when he’s been able to use his quick wit to play off those around him. Definitely one to watch.


2DayFM – Hughesy, Ed and Erin

A new breakfast show on 2Day FM will always generate headlines, ever since the well-told story of Kyle and Jackie O’s defection to ARN in 2013. This time, SCA is bringing across an established drive show in Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes and Ed Kavalee, with the addition of 2GB presenter and television personality Erin Molan.

So what evidence is there, if any, suggest things will be different this time around at the embattled 2Day FM? Well, content boss Dave Cameron told Mumbrella late last year the new show will be given at least two years to bed in with audiences. That comes after the network copped criticism for chopping and changing previous breakfast shows too often.

If Hughesy, Ed and Erin can reach the five and a half to six share mark by the end of 2021, SCA will be over the moon.


Triple M Brisbane – Marto and Margaux

The ultra-competitive Brisbane breakfast market is seeing the least amount of change in 2021. SCA has opted not to replace Nick Cody on Triple M, with Greg ‘Marto’ Martin and Margaux Parker to present brekky as a duo instead.

The station has also lost other high-profile hosts Lawrence ‘Moonman’ Mooney (to Triple M Sydney) and Robin Bailey (to 97.3FM) over the last couple of years, so we’re expecting a middling performance from Triple M Brisbane in 2021.


Triple M Perth – Baz, Xav and Jenna

Where else to start in Perth but the high profile move of newly elected Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas from 6PR to the recently launched Triple M Perth. He’s headlining a new breakfast show with former Hit92.9 breakfast host Xavier Ellis and West Australian assistant editor Jenna Clarke.

When launching a new station, it’s a smart strategy to use names, voices and faces already familiar to the audience, and in Zempilas, Ellis and Clarke, SCA has done just that. Next, it’s about achieving attribution, which any radio programmer will tell you doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s not hard to imagine that this new offering can carve out audience in a Perth market that hasn’t had a Triple M station before now.

Mix 94.5 – Pete, Matt and Kymba

SCA’s heritage breakfast show on Mix 94.5 is also getting a facelift, with Pete Curulli coming on board to announce stalwart Dean ‘Clairsy’ Clairs alongside Matt Dyktynski and Kymba Cahill. Mix has a strong and loyal listener base in Perth, and will hope to continue challenging Nova for top position in the west this year.

6PR – Gareth Parker

With the departure of Zempilas, Nine Radio has decided to launch a brand new breakfast show on 6PR in the form of Gareth Parker, with Steve Mills moving to another slot. It follows Nine launching refreshed Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane breakfast shows since taking ownership of the network formerly known as Macquarie Media.

Parker is hardly a left-field appointment, moving from his previous gig in the 6PR mornings slot. Nine Radio will hope that he’ll be able to provide stiff competition in the market, which has been dominated by FM stations in recent times.


Mix 102.3 – Erin Phillips and Soda

Another stable market, but after years up and around top spot, Mix 102.3 will hope that its refreshed offering of Erin Phillips and Mark ‘Soda’ Soderstrom can retain the listener base which latter established alongside the departed Jodie Oddy.

Oddy spent 13 years at the station, and has already popped up as a fill-in newsreader at new show on the block for 2020 – Nova’s Ben and Liam. Phillips spent several months of last year filling in alongside ‘Soda’, so audiences should be familiar with her already. We’re expecting Mix and Nova to go head to head once again this year.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.