Tim Blackwell on 20 years at Nova and why he’s not ready to change anytime soon

Tim Blackwell, prominent announcer and music broadcast journalist, today celebrates 20 years with Nova Entertainment. The radio host speaks to Mumbrella's Emma Shepherd on his career thus far, and why Nova has 'always been a driving force for brands.'

Tim Blackwell has been part of the Nova Network since 2001. Today he is a host of Nova’s national drive show Kate, Tim & Joel with Kate Ritchie and Joel Creasey.

In pre-COVID days of long commutes during peak hours, it was a key slot. Despite the societal changes, it is still an important position. He started his radio career at Nova 100 as Melbourne’s late-night announcer. In 2002 he moved to Perth to host Nova 93.7’s local drive show and was the first voice on air when the station launched, with a Red Hot Chili Peppers interview.

Blackwell, Ritchie and Creasey

“I think it’s very different from a commercial aspect from back in the day 15-20 years ago to now. People are kind of requiring certain things from the show now. I think it’s always been as accessible for brands as it is now. Radio has always been,” Blackwell says.

“Radio has been around for 100 years and not without reason. We can adapt so well to what listeners want. The things I was integrating into the show 10 years ago is pretty different to what we integrate into the show now! I think the needs are still there and we are a great avenue for brands to launch off.”

It was during his time with Nova Perth that Blackwell met his wife Mon. She’d been doing some casual work for Nova since returning from the UK, and they’ve now been married twelve-and-a-half years.

“A career highlight thus far would have been launching Nova in Perth, and being the first voice on air interviewing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I met my wife at that job. We are still married, and we’ve had three children together.

“Nova has just been such a constant in my life, and 20 years does not feel like 20 years, because I have been chopping and changing. Even in the last 12 months things have changed again with a new co-host so the great privilege of my work is that it’s constantly changing, and it is what you make it, and it certainly hasn’t felt repetitive. Potentially, here’s to another 20 years, who knows?” Blackwell says.

Blackwell with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers

The following period saw Blackwell feature in all the major east coast markets. In 2006 he joined Nova 100 as an anchor on Hughesy & Kate Melbourne breakfast show before teaming up with Hayley Pearson to host Nova 100’s night show Launchpad.

In 2009, he joined Meshel Laurie as co-host of Nova 106.9’s Brisbane breakfast show. The following year, Marty Sheargold joined the team to become Meshel, Tim & Marty and in 2011 they became the Nova Network’s national drive team. In 2014 Kate Ritchie joined the team with the Kate, Tim & Marty drive show.

During their time on drive, Kate, Tim & Marty won seven Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRA) for Best Networked Program in 2015, he also won an ACRA for Best Entertainment/Music Presenter that year, Best On Air Team in 2016 and 2017, Best Syndicated Australian Program and Best Networked Show in 2018 and Best Networked Program and Best Syndicated Program in 2019, and the Kate, Tim & Joel drive show has been #1 nationally for 34 consecutive surveys.

In November 2020, ​​all eyes were on the network’s new national drive show Kate, Tim and Joel, with question marks floating around about whether comedian Creasey would make an able replacement for Marty Sheargold.

Survey seven turned out to be a mixed book for the show, which claimed the number one position in the drive slot in Adelaide with a 13.4% share (+1.4 points), but fell in Brisbane and Perth (yet remained at the top of the pile rating 13.7% and 14.2% respectively).

Nova Entertainment’s chief programming and marketing officer, Paul Jackson

Speaking to Mumbrella at the time, Nova Entertainment’s chief programming and marketing officer, Paul Jackson said: “It’s difficult for Joel in that he’s replacing Marty Sheargold, and Kate, Tim and Marty was an iconic show for many a year. Joel is very different to Marty and we deliberately cast the show like that.

“One thing that you might expect to come into this [survey] is a bit of churn… Where it’s been difficult for Joel is that he’s been in Melbourne in lockdown so he’s doing it down the line. So when you’re just getting your connection and rapport with your colleagues… it’s difficult.”

From a Kate, Tim & Joel perspective, a spokesperson for the network tells Mumbrella it was important that Tim and Kate were involved in selecting who replaced Marty in an established and successful show and Tim was convinced that Joel was the right choice.

Blackwell notes that as much as he was excited to have a new co-host, there was still a worry due to change as he felt “comfortable” with Marty for so many years.

“There’s always worry in the back of your mind, in the fact that we’ve been comfortable for so long. Marty and I have been working together for ten years. It doesn’t get more comfortable than that, as far as a job is concerned. You’re definitely intrigued to see how the new incarnation of the show will turn out, but I am just wrapped with how easy and how well we’ve been able to slip straight into it with Joel. There’s no doubt it’s a different show, and that was half of the appeal as well. You don’t want to try and find someone to be exactly the same either.”

Jackson says of the new radio trio: “Nova’s national drive show has been a great radio show for the best part of a decade and invariably when you make any changes, you can be compared to the success of the past which it can be difficult to live up to. Kate, Tim & Joel had an instant chemistry and friendship, and the show has a freshness and upbeat tone which has connected with listeners. In effect, we have launched a new drive show with a whole new appeal and in the past 12 months the ratings have been a reflection of this, with Nova’s drive show continuing to hold the #1 spot nationally for 34 consecutive surveys.”

Nova Entertainment’s group commercial director, Luke Minto

Nova Entertainment’s group commercial director, Luke Minto, adds: “Nova’s national drive show has always been an appealing proposition for clients but there’s no doubt we’ve seen a surge in demand for Kate, Tim & Joel over the last 12 months and ultimately that comes down to versatility.

“As a team and individually, they have broad audience appeal and an ability to connect authentically no matter the subject. They know what works for their audience, and importantly, how to bring brands into that space in a genuinely engaging way that gets results.

“When you have such commercially astute talent with a genuine appetite for integration, it makes all the difference. Coupled with the show’s dominant ratings position, it’s easy to see why advertisers have responded so positively to KTJ.”

And as for what the future holds after Nova drive, Blackwell admits he has “no grand plans” to move from his current positioning any time soon.

“Nova drive is almost as good as it gets in my business. I’ve got three kids, the hours are exceptional. So, at the moment I’m really loving where I’m at, so I’m not looking too far down the track, I don’t think it can get much better than this at the moment,” Blackwell says. “Especially with the last couple of years being the way they have, and for some weird reason we are deemed as essential workers, so, I have been able to come into work and do the show everyday. It’s fantastic. There are no grand plans, or five year vision just yet.”


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