2CH in the hands of a Masters Apprentice | radioinfo

2CH in the hands of a Masters Apprentice

Wednesday 21 December, 2016
Together after 50 years - Glenn Wheatley and Bob Rogers at 2CH

Glenn Wheatley talks to Peter Saxon about the strange and drawn-out sales process and what his plans are for 2CH.

Over 50 years ago when Bob Rogers interviewed a young Glenn Wheatley, bass player for Master’s Apprentices, one of Australia’s hottest bands at the time, he could not have imagined that some day this long haired git with the tight pants and the outsized package would be his boss.

Well, that day has arrived. Today a much more sober-looking Glenn Wheatley through EON Broadcasting with Sunshine Coast GM John Williams and the substantial financial backing of Oceanic Capital Partners (OCP) are proud owners of 2CH where radio's longest serving DJ Bob Rogers, who recently turned 90 still plies his trade on the morning shift Mon-Fri.

EON Broadcasting were outsiders to get the prize before the ACMA took the sales process out of Macquarie Media’s (MML) hands and gave it to Deloitte. 

Wheatley says his group was an enthusiastic bidder for 2CH from the start but was shut out of negotiations, “I was there 18 months ago. I was rejected out of hand first time around. Macquarie obviously thought they had a deal in train. They confirmed that I was not part of it and they obviously had a couple of bidders they were negotiating with that they couldn't agree on (with the ACMA).”

According to Wheatley (far left with Masters Apprentices circa 1965), in the end EON was able to snare 2CH for pretty much the same money, $5.56 million, as they had offered from the start. Yet, it wasn’t the highest bid fielded by Deloitte. Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corp offered around $200k more. So, why was EON awarded the trophy?

“Because I think we were uncomplicated,” he says, “We were a cash bid. There was no tricky payment schedules. It was a very clean straightforward offer on the table. I think that was appealing to Macquarie and Deloitte and obviously to the ACMA.”

As usual, the underbidders and what amounts to a ‘radio claque’ say that EON paid too much - which is self evident in that that’s the way every auction works. The underbidders stop bidding when the cost gets too much for their liking leaving the bidder willing to pay “too much” the winner.

Of the acquisition Wheatley says, “I am thrilled to have this heritage station as part of EON Broadcasting. It’s a wonderful feeling.” Which is all very fine but now they’ve got to do something with it. 

"We’re not going to make any real wholesale changes (to the format). We’re just going to improve everything to the best of our ability and give the station some love and attention that it hasn’t had for a long time. They’ve been satellited from Melbourne on the Magic format. No one was happy about it.

"Rod Brice, (left) our program director up there on the Sunshine Coast - a very experienced man - is going to be coming down and working on programming. We’ve got to cut the ties with Macquarie. ACMA want that sooner rather than later. So, we’re going to be basically starting again,” says Wheatley.

Even the transmitter mast will move to the 2KY (SkySportsRadio) site. “We’ll be bringing in a sales team. We’ll be looking for new premises. We’ll be getting our people walking out of that building within three months (from January 16). We’ve got to become independent!”  he says. 

Still, the “radio claque” maintains that music formats are well past their use-by date on the AM band. Naturally, Wheatley disagrees. “In its glory days, it was getting six and seven per cent shares and we don't see any reason why that can’t be achieved again and that’s going to be enough. Goodness, that’s going to be more than some of our competitors stations have at the moment.”

In fact, in the most recent, GfK Survey 8, 2CH posted a 4.3 share beating Macquarie’s 2UE on just 3.5 and a smidge behind 2DayFM on 4.4 with Triple M within striking distance on 4.9. 

“I’m just thrilled to be a part of Sydneys history and thrilled to be back in Sydney radio,” says Wheatley with his trademark enthusiasm.  People tend to forget that it was his station, 92.3EON-FM, in Melbourne that was Australia’s first FM station to air on 11 July 1980. And it was Glenn Wheatley that led the purchase of Triple M, Sydney from Rod Muir.

“It was a little easier this takeover,” says Wheatley, referring to 2CH. “The last time I took over a station was Triple M (1987) and the boardroom table was carved up by Rod Muir in front of my very eyes. And I was thinking, didn't I just buy that table? Isn't that part of the chattels that you just carved up with a chainsaw? This meeting yesterday (with Deloitte) was rather a quiet affair compared to the Triple M days.”

As part of that deal, Wheatley ended up with Muir’s yacht, Dr Dan. “I didn't know what to do with it,” he says. “It’s not exactly a pleasure craft. We ended up selling it to an enthusiast. It’s best value was an autograph by Bob Dylan under the deck. I think that was more than the value of the boat.”

Peter Saxon


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22 December 2016 - 8:07am
A great read - I don't suppose EON would somehow snap up 4BH too?
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