Macquarie Media launches sports radio lineup, with Garry Linnell axed from Sydney breakfast

Macquarie Media has launched its new three-city radio network Macquarie Sports Radio.

The changes see Sydney 2UE breakfast stalwart Garry Linnell absent from the lineup, with his former co-host John Stanley surviving the changes to co-present with former rugby league footballer and Footy Show panellist Beau Ryan.

The new network, which will launch with the Commonwealth Games tomorrow, will replace the broadcaster’s recently axed Talking Lifestyle stations.  The network covers Sydney’s 2UE, Melbourne’s 3EE and Brisbane’s 4BH.

Linnell – a former editor of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney and ex-director of news for Fairfax Media  – hosted the breakfast show with John Stanley since 2013. His last day was on breakfast was this morning although Mumbrella understands Macquarie Media is in talks with Linnell about a new role.

Stanley, left, remains with Sydney breakfast but Linnell is out

The Melbourne show will be hosted by Tony Leonard, Tony Shaw and Jimmy Bartel.

Wednesday sees a two week national breakfast show which will run for the duration of the Commonwealth Games. The show is being co-hosted by John Stanley and Tony Leonard, and also includes Beau Ryan.

After the end of the Commonwealth Games the network will split breakfast from April 16, with the Sydney-based show also being aired in fellow NRL city Brisbane. A seperate breakfast show will air in Melbourne where the audience prefers AFL.

Former SEN radio hosts David Schwartz and Mark Allen will lead national drive.

Macquarie Media’s Talking Lifestyle stations featured paid-for lifestyle content and were officially launched in 2016, a year after the Fairfax Media and Macquarie Radio Network merger.

However, the lifestyle format failed to deliver sufficient audience or advertiser support.

In the first audience survey of this year, Talking Lifestyle posted a 3.4% share in Sydney but in Melbourne its share was just 0.2% and Brisbane’s share was 0.9%.

For a time 2UE was one of Sydney’s most successful stations, with shows from John Laws and then Alan Jones pulling in huge audiences. But after the defection of Jones to 2GB 15 years ago, 2UE’s fortunes faded while 2GB began to dominate.

Over the years, 2UE rebooted its format several times, including a major relaunch in 2011 when programming boss Peter Brennan said that the fish had “rotted from the head” under the previous management.

At the time Brennan said 2UE would chase an 8.5% share and target “generational change” at rival 2GB.

The merger of two years ago, which sees Fairfax Media owning the biggest stake in Macquarie Media, made 2GB and 2UE stablemates for the first time. It also brought 3AW, which dominates in Melbourne, into the fold.

The Talking Lifestyle format was an attempt to differentiate the talk stations 2UE from 2GB in Sydney. In Melbourne, 3EE has previously been the Magic light music format.

But after less than two years, the Talking Lifestyle stations were axed with new Macquarie Media CEO Adam Lang admitting the company had “made mistakes” with the format.

“We know that we’ve got clients that are very interested in being engaged with sport and so I think we’ve got plenty of internal lessons to know that we can do this. It’s really about executing a successful sport format,” Lang told Mumbrella last month.

However, the format change has created an opposition from some Sydney listeners. Over the weekend, dozens took to the comment thread of a Mumbrella article to protest the changes.

In Melbourne, the format faces tough opposition. The leading FM breakfast show, Hot Breakfast on Triple M, is sports-dominated with AFL: expertise from hosts Eddie McGuire, Wil Anderson and Luke Darcy. And in a huge coup at the start of the year, ABC Grandstand stalwart Gerald Whateley joined SEN (Sports Entertainment Network) radio.

The first day of the new format included a guest call-in slot for 2GB morning host Ray Hadley, who told listeners of his amusement that he will now be in a rival time slot with his long time friend and colleague David “Thirsty” Morrow.

Today, Lang said he was excited to be launching the new radio talk network, which has just been announced as the official AM commercial broadcaster of the Commonwealth Games.

Macquarie Sports Radio has also secured the rights to the English Premier League, with three games to be broadcast each week. It has also signed a partnership with global audio partner talkSport.

Macquarie Media has also extended its radio broadcast agreement with the Australian Rugby League Commission for an additional five years.

“Australians have a long established obsession with sport and we continue to see growth in a variety of sporting endeavours. There are more than 13 million sports fans in Australia. Sport is social, it bonds strangers together and we want to give them a voice and a platform to connect and engage,” Lang said.

Full program lineup:

  • Monday to Friday in Sydney and Brisbane, Macquarie Sports Radio Breakfast (05:30-09:00 am) will be hosted by John Stanley and Beau Ryan. The Melbourne breakfast show hosted by Tony Leonard, Tony Shaw and Jimmy Bartel. David Schwartz and Mark Allen will head up a national drive program.
  • Mornings will be hosted by David Morrow & Tiffany Cherry
  • Afternoons will be hosted by Mieke Buchan, Shane McInnes and Sam Stove
  • Evenings with Julian King
  • Weekend Mornings with Bill Woods & Brigitte Duclos
  • Weekend Afternoons with Craig Willis & Clinton Maynard
  • Weekend Evenings with Tim Webster

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