‘What I would hope is that this is a 25 year job’: Why Marty Sheargold’s going solo at Triple M

The Marty Sheargold Show began on Melbourne's Triple M this morning, replacing Eddie McGuire's The Hot Breakfast. Ahead of the launch, Mumbrella's Brittney Rigby spoke to Sheargold about why he left Nova's Kate, Tim and Marty, what makes a solo show different, and how "these careers are taken off all of us at some point".

Marty Sheargold’s new breakfast radio show starts today. The comedian and broadcaster can’t say if, or why, curious listeners will tune in – “why does anyone watch or consume anything in the media?” – but he can tell them what to expect from The Marty Sheargold Show.

“Well, they can expect to hear me talk a lot. And if you’re not into that, you’re not gonna like the show,” he says.

As for ensuring existing Triple M listeners, conditioned to listening to The Hot Breakfast fronted by Eddie McGuire, stick around? “I am going to give those people a guarantee that the Foo Fighters will be played once every morning … Nirvana will still be played.”

The Marty Sheargold Show began this morning

Sheargold wasn’t expected to quit as a long-running member of Nova’s ACRA-award-winning Kate, Tim, and Marty show last year. He’d been with Nova for a decade when the news of his departure broke in July. He exited in September (the show’s last survey result in Melbourne was a drop of four percentage points to a 6.3% share, losing the FM drive-time lead) and in December, we knew where he was going: Back to Triple M for a solo breakfast show.

Sheargold tells Mumbrella the decision came down to wanting to “at some point in my career, really have a go at trying to do something on my own”.

“Without sounding selfish about that process, I realise I’m not getting any younger, and if I didn’t take a risk and see if there was potential for me somewhere to do what I’m doing now, I would have really regretted not making that decision and having real tilt,” he says.

“You do reach an age where you start to think about what you’d like to do before you don’t get a chance to do anything. Because these careers are taken off all of us at some point.”

When he decided to prioritise creative control, Sheargold didn’t know if that meant another radio show – “I looked at a few different alternatives” – but he did know he wanted to ensure the process looked a lot like what he had found in stand up comedy.

“It was always the plan to try to have a little bit more control around the direction of what my career was doing at the time,” he muses.

“And I really think I was re-invigorated by going back to the stand-up and taking the lead in it again. And I think sometimes you can sort of lose yourself in working in and around teams and it can become quite comfortable.

“Then when I got back here and started really knocking this stand-up show into shape and was spending a lot of time with myself, professionally, I just wondered whether there was more room for me in other mediums.”

Going from a group line up to a solo format makes for a completely different radio show. It changes the nature and intensity of your relationship with listeners. It means you don’t have others to riff off of, or be challenged, and encouraged, by.

Sheargold repeatedly refers to his obligation to put on a ‘performance’ – rather than calling himself a radio host or media personality – and as he says of the difference: “It does change the way that you perform”.

“It also, with the change of networks, it changes your content decisions as you think about the audience that you’re working for versus the radio show that you might want to make,” he adds.

“All of that balancing act that takes place when you’re making creative content and show decisions.

“So it’s been a really lovely exercise.”

Sheargold already knows about making content decisions for Triple M listeners; he started his radio career at the station 17 years ago. And he’s most excited to make those decisions specifically for Melbourne, especially a Melbourne whose “deep hurt and pain” through COVID-19 “has been lost in the broader coverage and the politicising and the to-ing and fro-ing of the big media companies batting it around”.

While The Marty Sheargold Show will be Melbourne-focused, it will be syndicated nationally from 3-4pm daily, broadcast across Triple M’s 49 stations.

Kate, Tim and Marty, meanwhile, was a national show, and speaking to the entire country, versus one city, posed its own set of challenges, Sheargold explains.

“I’m so relieved to be able to just talk to one market. When you do those national shifts you get a bit funny about, ‘Oh, am I talking about this market too much and that market doesn’t want to hear about this market’, that juggling act that takes place.

“So to be able to own the city that you live in is what I’m really looking forward to.”

And it’s a responsibility he isn’t taking lightly: “It really is a privilege to be given an opportunity like this as a performer, regardless of your age, or how successful you think you are, or whether you’ve deserved it or earned it and all of those conversations that go on around these kind of jobs.”

A month before The Marty Sheargold Show was announced to the market, Southern Cross Austereo cleared the way for Sheargold’s introduction, confirming it was axing The Hot Breakfast after more than a decade.

Sheargold has inherited a 6.8% audience share thanks to McGuire and co-host Luke Darcy climb of one percentage point in their final survey to finish as the second-best FM show in the slot. Drive-time in Melbourne is still dominated by AM though; 3AW leads with a 16.9% share, while ABC Melbourne is next in line on 10.6%.

As he begins in a new slot at a new station, Sheargold doesn’t know exactly how his show will evolve over time, except to be sure he’ll maintain “an organic approach to idea generation and content”.

“I think it’ll always change,” he says. “I don’t think at 10 past 7 every morning, I’ll be pretending to be an Indian mechanic and doing some kind of gotcha call arrangement. I won’t be famous for anything other than being famous for nothing.”

In a statement at the time of The Marty Sheargold Show’s announcement, the radio host quipped, “Triple M has entrusted Melbourne breakfast to me, and I want to make the absolute most of the faith they have placed in me. Then retire.” Accordingly, our interview ends with a cheeky question: Does that mean he’s planning to stay in this job for a long time, or retire early?

“What I would hope is that this is a 25 year job and I will retire at 75 with everyone saying, ‘Well done. Well done’.”


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