Why 2Day FM’s breakfast shows keep ‘imploding’

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) still has years of pain before it will fully recover from the defection of Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson, former radio and TV star – now founder of ‘influencer marketplace’ Tribe – Jules Lund has predicted.

Echoing the sentiments of current Sydney 2Day FM breakfast host Em Rusciano – who attracted attention last week when she admitted the recent restructure of the program had been an ego blow, she was working with people she would never have personally selected and she was six months from imploding – Lund told Wil Anderson that radio shows in Australia implode because they are cast by an executive, in a similar way to an arranged marriage.

Lund: Radio veterans can rest on their laurels

Anderson, who currently fronts SCA’s Triple M Breakfast in Melbourne alongside Eddie McGuire and Luke Darcy, agreed, comparing the radio casting process to television’s Married At First Sight.

“If you watch Married At First Sight, none of them are with their original partners. They all went on a TV show, got married to a complete stranger, and now they’ve hooked up with other complete strangers from the show. So if they can’t last nine weeks of a TV show, how do you imagine a radio partnership’s going to last?” Anderson quipped on his Wilosophy podcast, released today.

“Isn’t that effectively what the radio industry here in Australia is? Like literally everyone just has radio shows and then they split up and do musical chairs,” Lund said.

Lund once fronted the Sydney breakfast program, along with Sophie Monk, Merrick Watts and former Spice Girl Mel B, and said the ‘sad reality’ of commercial radio in Australia is it’s difficult to remove radio stalwarts, and there is no new talent coming through.

The 2014 2Day FM breakfast show

“Em Rusciano’s been with 10 people. Ed Kavalee’s been with 10. I’ve been with 10. Merrick Watts has been with everyone… It’s a sad reality about Australian radio – they can’t get rid of radio people. There’s no one else coming up.”

Lund said radio veterans can therefore rest on their laurels because they know networks will eventually ask them back – also advising anyone on the way out not to burn their bridges.

He then turned his attention to his time on the 2Day FM breakfast show in Sydney – a gig which was also offered to Anderson – and said he accepted it because he had less to lose than Anderson, and because SCA just kept upping the offer.

“[Sandilands and Henderson] took 70% [of the audience with them]. And when those first ratings came through, we went ‘of course’…. Of course. If you’re going to a friend’s house every day for 10 years, and your friend moves, you don’t just keep going back to the house and introduce yourself to the new friends… You just change the GPS to Kiis,” Lund said.

“And, funnily enough, that’s what their listeners did. They just went ‘Oh, I’ll just change the dial’. So we were in this crater… it’s [still] such a big hole. Like, honestly, I actually reckon towards the end, like me, Sophie [Monk] and Merrick [Watts], we’ve done the best radio we’ve ever done. We absolutely laughed, and it was amazing. Three very unique individuals. Like we’re all mental in different ways. It was tough, but we had such a love for each other, and the radio was fun, but by then, no one was listening. It was like, we were down the alleyway. You didn’t get the traffic. People weren’t passing it,” he said.

“It will take 10 years [to build it back up]. And I was like ‘Nup. I can’t be effed. I’ve got better things to do with my time’.”

Anderson, however, said he saw SCA’s post-Sandilands and Henderson troubles coming, and knew it was best to stay away – a decision Lund called a “great” one.

“It felt nice to be wanted,” Anderson said, after discussing how both SCA executives and Lund himself had hounded him to join the program. “[But] I knew it was going to be a disaster. Not because of you [Lund], not because of the quality of the show… It just felt like where that station was, and following in the footsteps of that show, and the time it was going to take to turn around the audience and all that sort of thing…. I didn’t feel like it would work.”

Lund admitted there was panic when their ratings started flowing in in 2014 and that he “copped it” from station management and was micro-managed. In retrospect, however, the ratings weren’t too bad, he said.

Anderson joked: “At the time everyone was like ‘These numbers are too low’. These days, they’d be like, ‘Can we just get back to those Jules Lund numbers?’”

Sandilands and Henderson went out on 2Day FM with a 10.4% audience share. Their first ratings survey with Kiis in 2014 had them on 9.3% – a 6.0 percentage point climb – while Lund’s show kicked off with just 3.8% of the breakfast market.

The current Sydney 2Day FM Breakfast show, with Rusciano, Kavalee and Grant Denyer has a 4.4% audience share. Sandilands and Henderson still lead the FM market over on Kiis with 12.3%. Lund’s program finished with a 3.0% share of the market.

Lund’s podcast with Wil Anderson was released this week, but was recorded prior to Rusciano’s interview.


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