“I wish we were here for longer but we’re not…thank you for listening, and maybe we will meet some other day down the line,” were the final words uttered by Luke Grant on 3MTR at 5pm today. Then the station closed down. The AM 1377 frequency is now simulcasting the MyMP Digital Radio easy memories music program, with no paid commercials, no announcers and no news, presumably as an interim solution until the joint venture partners decide what to do with the failed Melbourne talk station. Administrators have been appointed to the MTR business joint venture.
The afternoon slowly petered out for 3MTR. At the end of the networked Chris Smith show the station went to the easy music feed for a while, which, ironically, uses the old station name ‘MP.’ At 5pm, the last words were uttered and newsreader Amie Meehan attempted to deliver a final news bulletin, but that was not to be.
“Okay, I’m really sorry, I thought that I was still doing one last bulletin… Okay, no worries at all. I’m so sorry. I know you guys have worked your butts off, and no matter, whatever the ratings were, one way or the other doesn’t change the way you do your day… I’m really sorry. No worries, bye bye,” were Meehan’s final words from the Sydney newsroom.
Then there was some switching, and the SEN sport station feed went to air for a while, then it was switched back to MyMP.
No one at the station was answering phones this afternoon but Pacific Star and Macquarie Radio Network both issued statements to the stock market late in the day saying the directors of the JV Company Melbourne Radio Operations Pty Ltd “have today appointed administrators.” Pacific Star has placed its shares in a trading halt.
Staff at MTR were left in the dark about the move, with people on rostered weekend shifts having to call in to find out what was happening once they heard the switch-off. A staff meeting is expetced to be held on Monday.
radioinfo sources say that, as late as Thursday, staff were being told it was “business as usual.” Staff are employed by the MRN side of the business and it is thought Macquarie Radio Network management will speak to them next week.
The broadcast regulator, which has been following the station’s evolving difficulties in recent weeks, is taking an interest in the latest development. Spokesperson Emma Rossi has told radioinfo the ACMA will be “reviewing the situation” in a couple of days, once more details about the closure are known.
The station has been in financial difficulties for months (see our earlier stories), and today marks the end of a brave experiment to challenge 3AW in the Melbourne commercial talk market, that in the end did not succeed.
Pacific Star CEO Barrie Quick said: “After our joint venture partners took the course of action they did yesterday we have no alternative but to close the station effective of five o’clock today.”
A brief history of MTR:
The station began in early 2010 with great hopes to challenge Fairfax Radio’s talk juggernaught 2AW, recruiting former AW drive presenter Steve Price to spearhead the attack. See our story about the station’s name announcement, from that time, here. It went to air on April 19 2010.
Before long however, MTR was embroiled in a spat with Melbourne Observer’s Ash Long about its name (see that story here).
Hopes were high when the station wooed advertisers and reporters in October 2010, but ratings and revenue did not follow. The station blamed its poor signal for lack of ratings and applied for, and was finally granted a power increase, but the technical upgrade was not completed.
During 2011, when it was apparent that 3MTR was unlikely to make a dent in 3AW’s ratings, Macquarie Radio Network conducted a spoiler campaign to encourage Fairfax Media to sell 3AW in an attempt to trade up and buy the best house in the Melbourne Talk Radio street. It did not succeed. The joint venture partners in 3MTR, Macquarie and Pacific Star have been feuding for some months now about funding and budgets, resulting in today’s closure and appointment of administrators.
You can search radioinfo’s extensive industry news archive in the box at the top right above to find other stories on the station’s history.
If you have any obituary comments about 3MTR, please post them below.