Merrick Watts rules out reuniting with Rosso, admits Drive competition is ‘interesting’

merrick watts triple MTripleM’s returning national Drive show host Merrick Watts has ruled out a “reformation” with former Nova co-host Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross, and admitted his time on the ill-fated 2DayFM Breakfast show was like “work experience”.

Watts was announced this morning as the replacement for Joe Hildebrand and Matt Tilley’s One Percenters show, with a co-host to be announced “in due course”, with Watts telling Mumbrella it is someone he has “talked to about working with for ages”.

But he told Mumbrella it would not be Ross, saying: “I think sometimes the industry tries to drive this kind of Occam’s Razor and find connections that aren’t there. Merrick and Rosso were quite a lot of years ago, and I don’t think now is the time or place for a reformation.”

Drive is set to be a highly competitive timeslot next year with the Today Network signing Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, and rumours Ross might be replaced by Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek by the Australian radio Network. Nova’s show is currently hosted by Kate Richie, Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold.

But Watts said he felt comfortable with the competition, adding: “TripleM is the only network with a true point of difference, so we’re not competing for the same audience at all to the three competitive stations. We appeal to more of a niche market, a large niche, but mainly men who like rock music and sport.

“I like to see myself as a bit of a utility player, I like to be able to exercise my skill set on radio and TV.”

Turning to his new co-host, who cannot be revealed whilst contracts are negotiated, he intimated it was a man who he has “a close friendship with”, and they have “a strong skill set different from my own”.

On his time with the 2DayFM breakfast show, which shed audience as listeners moved with former hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson to rival KiisFM, he admitted they had walked into “a perfect storm” of issues.

“I was asked to play a particular role, and I don’t walk away with hard feelings,” he said. “If I did I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to go back to my old job (with sister Southern Cross Austereo station TripleM).

“I’ve got a really good relationship with (co-hosts) Sophie (Monk) and Jules (Lund). A show under that much pressure usually capitulates and falls apart, but we’re all talking about how sad it is we will not be working together any more.”

He also admitted he had learned things from his year with the show, admitting: “Being an old war horse for this industry I didn’t expect to go to that show and learn as much as I did.

“I’ve learned to trust my instincts as they can be pretty accurate. It’s also good to see a different way of doing things, it was like a work experience opportunity where I learned a very different way to organise a show.”

With Hamish and Andy not starting on the Today Network Drive show until next July Jules Lund has been drafted in to hold the fort, pitting him against Watts’ new show.

Watts said jokingly: “I’m going to punch Jules Lund in the face. It’s going to be one of radio’s greatest blood baths. The first six months of next year I’m going to focus my attention on pulling apart his life, everyday on air.”

Later he admitted he anticipated there would be some “pranks” played on his current colleague when they are rivals.

On the new show he said the content would be “informative, thought provoking content” as they sought to differentiate it from the current show and its competitors.

Alex Hayes


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