SCA’s foray into Talk Radio

By Peter Saxon

“We have an open door policy for audience to be part of the show,” Dave Cameron.
When news first broke that SCA had dumped the Ray Hadley Morning Show from their regional stations to take effect at the end of this month, radioinfo’s headline read: Ray Hadley to be replaced by Steve Price on SCA regional radio.

It was a bit cheeky of us – well, me, actually … I wrote it and approved it – because, while SCA had confirmed that Hadley was going, they had yet to officially reveal who would replace him. 
Having recently launched to much fanfare, a daily podcast Australia Today through SCA’s also recently launched LiSTNR app, it was pretty obvious from the start that Price was going to get the guernsey. Nonetheless, world’s best journalistic practice required that I at least, as a courtesy, insert the word “tipped” between the words “Hadley” and ”to” so that it reads: Ray Hadley TIPPED to be replaced by Steve Price – A fact which earned a gentle chiding from Dave Cameron during our chat the next day when I asked him straight out: who was replacing Hadley?
He shot back, “If you’ve already got a headline on your website, I would assume that you know what the answer is, so I’ll let you run with that. But suffice to say, we will be announcing a replacement for Triple M in regional mornings in weeks to come.”
As it turned out, the announcement, the official one, was made in just days and now my headline from a week ago stands corrected without alteration.

 “It’ll be a show where we control the content, which is not currently the situation.” Dave Cameron

Nonetheless, I can’t time-shift away the fact that I was caught red-handed making what was techically a fake news headline last week.  So, I’ll plead the Alan Jones defence: “I’m not a journalist, I’m just an entertainer” – which suggests I’m not really responsible for fact-checking what I write. 
Which is a good segue into a discussion about the subtle but significant shift in legal responsibilities once the production of Triple M’s Morning show passes from Nine Radio and Ray Hadley to Southern Cross Austereo and Steve Price.
As Cameron confirms, “It’ll be a show where we control the content, which is not currently the situation.”
Of course, Price is unlikely to ruffle the feathers at the ACMA the way Alan Jones could, and he’s too smart to rack up millions in damages from a defamation claim. And it’s not as if SCA hasn’t handled ‘controversial’ subjects before, when Kyle and Jackie O were there. 
But talk, as we know it in Australia, is different to a music format. It draws a different kind of listener or sometimes the same listener at a different daypart but one that tunes into their favourite talk station with a different mindset as to when they listen to music to relax. 
The other week, the ABC released its now annual research study called Australia Talks. It found that 94 per cent of respondents placed misinformation amongst the top 10 problems Australia faces. 79 per cent of Australians think it’s hard to know who to trust these days. And many similar studies around the western world show that trust in media overall has fallen significantly in recent years. 
Cameron’s initial response is, “Well, that’s an ABC study, so it’s hard to understand the underlying position of Australians there. I would suggest that it’s probably more of a position of people not necessarily trusting those big media brands.”
While Cameron doesn’t subscribe to any particular strategy to combat fake information and win back the trust of listeners, clearly he intends for the show to have greater listener participation than before. “The show that we build as a replacement (for Hadley) for regionals will be delivering opinion that will provide an opportunity for Australians to get involved and contribute. We have an open-door policy for audience to be able to be a part of the show,” says Dave Cameron,




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