Radio 2UE confirms plan to replace News Talk with lifestyle and branded content

The chairman and executive director of Macquarie Radio Network has confirmed Radio 2UE will ditch its news radio roots and move to a new show format, with paid-for lifestyle content set to feature as the struggling station looks to increase revenue.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-4-06-29-pmRussell Tate told Mumbrella that some segments will contain branded content, with sponsors earning the right to be on air and answering listeners’ questions.

But he rejected suggestions that such a move would cause the station in some way to lose its integrity, and dismissed ABC’s Media Watch – which took a critical look at 2UE’s advertorial content earlier this week – as a “crappy show” which churns out “drivel”.

“I didn’t see what was on Media Watch and I don’t care,” Tate said. “I’ve got too much to do without watching that drivel.”

The comments came after Tate flagged in Macquarie Media’s annual report that a new format was set to launch.

Tate declined to reveal specific details of the new format, but told Mumbrella it would move away from the traditional news-based talkback format to one focused on lifestyle, including travel, health and well-being, and house and garden.

“We will not talk about what’s happening in Canberra,” he said, adding the content will reflect the lifestyle interests of its listeners, the majority of whom are over 50.

The 5:00am to 9:00am morning slot with John Stanley and Garry Linnell and the weekend shows with George Moore and Paul Kidd will be unchanged. Other shows will not so much feature hosts as “anchors”, Tate said.

Asked again about the reports on Media Watch, Tate said he “didn’t give a damn” what had been on the show and said he would not be lectured about commercial radio “from a crappy show on the ABC”.

But he confirmed “some segments will be sponsored and some won’t”, arguing it was no different from any other commercial TV or radio station.

“It’s commercial radio, it’s how we earn revenue,” he said. “We will have experts talking about issues they know about, which is better than listening to you or me.”

Radio 2UE has struggled to build a Sydney audience, capturing a share of 4.8% in the most recent radio ratings survey.

Chief operating officer, Adam Lang, told MediaWeek that the programming will be based around advertising categories, with the first couple of hours of the morning show featuring travel before moving to house and garden.

Media Watch highlighted segments on 2UE shows that have already featured product plugs for Nature Bee, Sydney Adventist Hospital and Insight Vacations.

Meanwhile, Tate confirmed Macquarie was close to completing the sale of Radio 2CH, which it must offload before October 1 to satisfy competition regulations.

The company needs to sell the station after the merger with Fairfax Radio last year put the station in breach of media ownership laws which impose ‘two-to-a-market’ limit for commercial radio licences in the Sydney licence area. It currently owns the licences for 2GB, 2UE and 2CH in Sydney.

Macquarie Radio originally needed to sell 2CH by March 31, but obtained an extension from The Australian Communications and Media Authority until September 30.

Asked whether a deal would be finalised by the deadline, Tate said: “That’s the intention.”

In the annual report, released yesterday to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), Tate’s renumeration package for the 2016 financial year appeared to have soared to $1m, up from $250,000.

Tate explained the $250,000 listed as last year’s pay reflected only the final quarter of the 2015 financial year following completion of the Fairfax merger.


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