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Exclusive: Merrick Watts straight back to radio as Triple M’s national drivetime host

merrick_wattsFormer Nova breakfast presenter Merrick Watts is to present a national drivetime show for sport and rock station Triple M, Mumbrella can reveal.

Watts has signed a two year deal with Triple M owner Southern Cross Austereo which will see the daily show air in Brisbane and Sydney from 4-6pm and in Melbourne and Adelaide from 6-8pm, from early next year.

Watts left DMG Radio’s Nova less than a month ago after ten years as Sydney breakfast host, most of it with Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross. The move is one of the biggest direct talent moves in recent years between Southern Cross Austereo and bitter rival DMG.

Watts told Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes: “I’m fairly competitive as a person. I’m not going to Triple M to sit back on the beanbag. I’m coming there to get tools out and work hard.  

“I want to make sure that the people that currently listen to Triple M enjoy what I do and that I’m a good fit there. I feel very suited to Triple M.”

“You have certain stages in your life. I had Triple J and I had Nova and now I have Triple M. When I thought about it objectively, Triple M makes far more sense than I’d given it credence for before.”

“I want to work in drive. I want to do a comedy program. They want me to do that type of show. It’s not a misfit for me at all. The trifecta is sport, rock and comedy.”

And Watts said that he was keen to be advertiser friendly. He said: “I have a very good relationship with sales and with clients. You shouldn’t have any resistance to the commercial realities of what you do. It’s called commercial radio for a reason. You can partner up and produce great things including content.”

Before the lengthy stint on Nova, Merrick and Rosso did drivetime on the ABC’s Triple J. Watst said: “I’m very excited about doing that again.”

Asked about other broadcasters, Watts said: “I really respect and admire the way that Ray Hadley and Alan Jones broadcast.”

Watts conceded that he had spent longer in the gruelling breakfast slot at Nova than was natural. He said: “You’re always at war with your own body clock.”

No decisions have been made on the format for the show or co-presenters. Watts said: “We haven’t even had conversations about what that lineup is going to look like. How many, I don’t know. Gender, I’m not sure. We haven’t had that conversation. We’ll throw everything up on a whiteboard and slowly find the natural existence of the show. Given enough time you can do that. Often in radio you don’t have that luxury of time to allow a show to homogeneously produce itself. We can take our time.”

On the move to Triple M, which has been showing steady improvements in its breakfast ratings, Watts said: “Everyone understands that it’s definitely the growth network, and I’ve come in at a good time.

Craig Bruce, head of content for Southern Cross Austereo said, “We’re incredibly excited about Merrick joining us in 2012. He’s the perfect choice for Triple M which is gathering momentum right around the country. Triple M will have rock, sport and comedy in spades for the drive home next year.”

With Watts signed to Southern Cross Austereo and former co-presenter Tim Ross due to start at ARN’s Mix 106.5, the likelihood of the pair working together again has receded. Watts said: “I don’t think we’re going to be working together anytime soon. Has the day passed? Probably.”

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