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‘The strategy’s changed’: Rove addition to 2DayFM signals new direction says Guy Dobson

The boss of 2DayFM has described the appointment of Rove McManus as the new breakfast host of the struggling Sydney station as “manna from heaven” and hinted his show may start this year.

Rove McManus: new 2DayFM breakfast show host

Rove McManus: new 2DayFM breakfast show host

Southern Cross Austereo’s metro boss Guy Dobson told Mumbrella the appointment completed a strategy shift for the network which he said started with Hamish & Andy’s drive show in July which had happened “out of necessity”.

However he refused to be drawn on what he expected the new-look lineup to do in terms of ratings, saying: “I’ve got no expectations on ratings, I haven’t done on 2DayFM for the last couple of years. All I care about is making sure we put the right show together and it connects with the audience and if we do that the ratings will come.”

“It’s all about how Rove sounds,” he added when pressed on his expectations. “If it gets on the air and really sounds like it fits the 2Day audience then I’ll be happy with that.”

Performance of Sydney's FM stations so far this year

Performance of Sydney’s FM stations so far this year

2DayFM has struggled in Sydney since the departure of Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson in 2013, plummeting from being the top rating commercial FM station to the bottom with an audience share of just 4 per cent – having been as low as 2.8 per cent this year.

McManus, 41, who last reached a regular mainstream audience with his Sunday night chatshow Rove on Ten, which ended in 2009, will replace Dan Debuf and Maz Compton in the breakfast slot on the Sydney station.

They were initially brought on board to connect with a younger audience, however struggled to make inroads against established competitors including Kyle and Jackie O on Kiis, WSFM’s Jonesy & Amanda and Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa.

Dobson admitted: “The strategy’s changed on 2Day. If you listen to our brand we started the year with going younger and that was the first part of our strategy. The next part was adding Hamish & Andy to the mix and broadening out, and if you listen now to 2Day across the day it’s a hits and old school format so the music is a lot older than it was in January this year.”

Referencing the last ratings survey where Hamish Blake and Andy Lee boosted the Hit Network’s audience share considerably in their first full survey in all markets but Sydney, Dobson said the 2DayFM breakfast show dragged it down as it was “off kilter musically to where Hamish & Andy sit”.

“So all I can say is that we’ve broadened our format out from January this year out of necessity and what we find now is a talent like Rove is going to complement our format and the drive show perfectly,” he added.

Hamish & andy

Hamish & Andy

He also insisted Hamish & Andy will be back on the Hit Network next year and that they were not looking to make “wholesale changes” to the 2DayFM lineup. He hinted there would be a heavy investment in marketing the new show but said they would “do what’s right” for it.

Dobson remained tight-lipped on any potential co-hosts for McManus’ show, with names like Carrie Bickmore – who hosts The Project which is made by Rove’s production company  – being bandied around.

It also appears SCA may be preparing to put the show on before the end of the year. Asked if the show would launch in January Dobson said: “We’re working with Rove now on the show and we’ll launch it when it’s right.

“We’re working on the accoutrements to the show right now. We’ve got loads of ideas and lots of trials and people we’re talking to and not talking to. We’re experimenting and looking at different angles.”

Dobson

Dobson

McManus has picked up a three-year contract with the network with a company share plan alone worth $700,000 per year to him, and he will broadcast from Sydney, with potential for a highlights package to be networked later in the day.

Pointing to the success of the Friday night RnB show which he said regularly wins its timeslot Dobson said “we know we’ve got our music promise right, we know we’ve got our drive show right, and with this guy we’ve got the right personality for breakfast”.

“Manna from heaven doesn’t drop very often so when it does happen you grab it,” he added.

Dumped: Dan & Maz will move to weekend breakfast

Dumped: Dan & Maz will move to weekend breakfast

Debuf and Compton are being moved to a weekend breakfast shift on the network, but Dobson insisted they still had a promising future with the network, describing their breakfast show as “the right show at the wrong time”.

He added: “We believe in these guys and we’ll make sure we look after them and we’ll put them in a slot where they can grow and learn the vagaries of say, breakfast radio, if they want another shot at that time slot, or we’ll keep them for ‘ron’ – later on.”

Alex Hayes

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