Breaking down the walls at 2UE | radioinfo

Breaking down the walls at 2UE

Thursday 23 January, 2014
The walls between offices at 2UE have literally been torn down, allowing better connections between staff across all areas of the station. Newsroom staff now freely mix with program teams and on air stars no longer close themselves in their offices away from the rest of the station.
The changes to the physical layout are an indication of the new programming philosophy, according to Program Director Clinton Maynard.
“We brought the walls down because we want to create a new working relationship inside the station that will reflect on air. We now hear laughter and feel the energy of programmers and news staff interacting with each other much more freely,” Maynard told radioinfo this week from his own new open plan office.
“Our key aims for this year are to retain our news and information credibility, which our listeners have told us is important, but to balance that with warm personalities, entertainment and fun.”
“The overall vibe of some of our competitors is angry and negative. Our listeners have told us they don’t like that.
“Our broadcasters will be opinionated, but also open, fair and balanced. They will be inclusive…”
“We want to involve them and interact with them in a more positive way… They won’t just be a cheer squad who call up to agree with the presenter’s views, we want our listeners to be part of the family, to feel they can say anything they want to and we will listen to them.
Maynard is keen to stress the collaborative nature of the program teams in this year’s line up.
The station, which was one of the city’s first radio licences, has had a strong Sydney identity since its beginning, but has suffered in recent years from falling ratings. The combination of new presenters and a renewed focus on its connection with the city, is a key plank of the new format.
A new set of stations IDs and jingles has been made with the slogan “Your City, Your Station.” The jingles were made in house by producer Alex Smith.

Dicko and Sarah have been moved from breakfast, where they did not rate well last year, to afternoons. On the day radioinfo visited the station the pair had renewed energy and appeared more comfortable with the longer time they had for interviews and discussion in the afternoon timeslot. A long interview with a sex worker was insightful and sensitive, as well as amusing thanks to some double entendres thrown in by Dicko. One caller commented on their increased energy in that timeslot, their response: “That’s because we can now get a full night’s sleep.”
Newcomer Gary Linnell is now combined with the solid radio craftsman John Stanley. The two sounded tentative on their first day on air, but will probably build rapport as the weeks go on. Clinton Maynard says they were chosen for that shift because of their journalistic expertise and wide ranging life experiences. John Stanley’s weekend breakfast shift ratings were way ahead of last year’s weekday breakfast presenters, so the move back to weekdays for Stanley is partly to roll the success of his weekend shifts back into weekdays.
2UE Breakfast is beginning at 5am, half an hour earlier than rival Alan Jones on 2GB.
Mornings with Angela Catterns aims to bring back the kind of warm connection listeners had with iconic presenters such as Gary O’Callaghan. Despite her ABC Radio profile, Catterns grew up listening to O’Callaghan on 2UE breakfast and is keen to bring her style to enhance the new feel of the station. Time will tell whether the commercial audience will warm to her in the same way as the ABC audience has done. While she will do hard interviews if needed, the feel of the morning show is softer, with interviewees on the first day being Col from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Column 8, a Rural First Services captain and Graham Long from the Wayside Chapel. Callers discussed the inconsistencies of newspaper deliveries and the origins of the Bakers Dozen.
It is a far cry from the hard news style of previous presenter Paul Murray, but, if 2UE research is right, it may fulfill that audience wish for inclusion and positive vibes.
2UE did not want to lose Paul Murray, but his commitments at both ends of the day, mornings on 2UE and late nights on pay tv channel Sky News, were wearing him out and he pulled the plug before his contract was over. Former drive announcer Jason Morrison’s contract was over and he was not renewed, making space for Justin Smith, a former producer and fill in presenter from 3AW Melbourne. Smith is a well respected journalist who has a dry sense of humour, especially when interacting with callers. His deadpan voice though, could be off putting for some and will take some getting used to before listeners will be able to tell if he is making a wise crack and just being dull.
Clive Robertson still has a big following and every time he filled in last year the switchboard lit up with callers asking the station to keep him on air. 2UE has done just that and has locked him in to present nights, but consistency is always Robertson’s challenge. If he can remain consistent for the year no doubt his audience will build.
The stalwarts of weekends, George and Paul, are staying put in their rock solid weekend timeslots, where their audience continues to grow survey after survey.
Clinton Maynard believes 2UE is unlikely to beat 2GB with a head-on attack while 2GB is in such a strong market position, so the 2014 strategy is to offer the audience a viable alternative in both the attitude of the station and the sounds of the presenters. He says the Fairfax Radio Network bosses are supportive of the strategy and understand that it will take more time to build 2UE back to the once dominant position it held on the Sydney AM dial.

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From our Twitter feed
24 January 2014 - 9:02am
Justin Smith ‏@JustinSmith954

@radioinfo I have no sense of humour. I live and die by every determined word. (Please imagine this is delivered with slow, dead pan voice)
24 January 2014 - 11:14am
I think Clinton Maynard is a nice guy and does a good program, but seriously this line up is ridiculous.

Can someone explain to me the logic behind the business show at 11.30am? Who is the target audience for this show? And then to follow it with a light hearted program in Dicko and Sarah? Clearly there is no ebb and flow throughout the day.

The other problem 2UE has is that many of its presenters are lazy. While Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones are attracting front page head lines, John Stanley and Angela Catterns have done nothing to self promote themselves or their new show. It is just not good enough.

2UE will be lucky if they rate 4% (Mon-Fri) this year.

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