Byron Cooke off to radio in Saudi Arabia – a one star review

I re-watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves for the first time in 30 odd years while I was overseas. That film is (in)famous for three things – the soundtrack song by Bryan Adams that lingered so long at No 1 in Australia it was pulled from the shelves lest it break ABBA’s record, Kevin Costner’s wonky English accent in the title role and the critically adored, gloriously OTT and mischievously self-aware performance of Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Rickman turned the role down several times because his character was bland and boring. To entice him Director Kevin Reynolds allowed Rickman to improvise lines (and not tell the rest of the cast he was doing so). So much did Rickman steal scenes as a result that Costner apparently had some of them cut.

For those of you not familiar with the radio landscape, the Christmas school holidays are also radio ratings holidays as well, and thus most capital city breakfast and drive lineups take a well-earned vacation.

During that period someone will cover these programs. Whoever is selected is not dissimilar to Alan Rickman. They are supposed to highlight and compliment the stars and not steal the show. Although the networks will always employ this person/people with a view to potential in the future.

Byron Cooke wraps up on air with KIIS 101.1 in Melbourne this week. He’s versatile, talented and a team player. He’d joined the station as paternity cover for Jase Hawkins on Jase & Lauren in the Morning, then did Saturdays and breakfast cover before very happily taking on workdays.

He’d spent five years at FOX FM before that, has a successful and award-winning podcast and has also worked in the hugely competitive UK and US radio markets.

When it was announced that Jase and Lauren were dropped to make way for Kyle and Jackie O on KIIS in Melbourne in 2024 I imagine ARN (KIIS’s network) management approached Byron to cover breakfast till K&J began. Perhaps Cooke, like most of the rest of us, thought that date would be end of January and start of ratings season when he could return to his happy place on workdays.

But that’s not what happened. He instead ended up being like a seat filler at the Oscars, while Kevin Costner takes a loo break.

Cooke announced he was leaving KIIS on a Friday afternoon three weeks ago, saying:

“I’ve absolutely loved my KIIS 101.1 era! Thank you to the team at ARN for your belief and support over the past couple of years. A life-changing international radio opportunity awaits, and I look forward to sharing those details soon.”

Friday afternoons are usually reserved for emergency commercial revisions, not significant resignations.

Today, April 4, 2024, he’s shared on KIIS, with Kyle and Jackie O, that’s he’s off to Saudi Arabia to host a show called The Byron Cooke Show with Sana K on MBC LOUD FM, the first English language commercial station in the history of the country.

There has been nothing but good grace and nice feelings displayed by all involved but, as my mother said to me long ago of relationships:

‘A happy person isn’t looking elsewhere.’

Which is perhaps deeper than anybody needs on a Thursday or a Friday afternoon.

Irrespective, this gain by the Saudi radio market is Australia’s and, more specifically, ARN’s loss.

Cooke may well return at a later date. Bridges aren’t burned and ARN haven’t declared, as Alan Rickman apparently adlibbed, that they’ll cut anyone’s heart out with a spoon.

None the less watching the whole situation play out as an observer, I would leave a negative review.

Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor and podcaster for Radioinfo
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