Smith replaces Ford at Austereo Melbourne

Brian Ford is leaving his position as Austereo’s Melbourne PD and Today Network Program Director effective June 11th. He will be replaced as Melbourne PD by ARN Gold PD Dave Smith, who was poached from Gold FM yesterday as the announcement about Brian Ford was being made. Gold has moved quickly to fill Smith’s position with Mark Johnson.

The changes are more significant for ARN than Austereo as a former ARN programmer explains to radioinfo:

“Dave Smith was the last of the old guard of ARN Program Directors who were appointed by Cherie Romaro before the Americans moved in.

Dave has been quietly kicking goals while the new comers have not been able to get other ARN stations to succeed. The proof of Dave’s success has been the consistent performance of Gold in the Melbourne market, especially its recent results in this year’s ratings.”

The move is strategic for Fox, which has now brought on board the person who steered Gold to beat Fox in Survey one this year, an unexpected result at the time. By bringing Smith into Austereo, the company weakens its closest competitor and brings Smith’s competitive expertise into Austereo.

In Survey one this year Gold scored 11.5% overall to Fox FM’s 11.0%. This survey Fox reversed that figure and is rating 12.2% to Gold’s 10.5%. GOLD104 has come out number one in 25 – 54 in the last nine surveys.

After 16 years with Austereo, Ford is taking up the position of Executive Director with ESP, Austereo’s programming consultants, and will “continue to oversee and play a critical role in the day to day development and implementation of programming strategy, not only for the Melbourne stations, but for the entire Austereo group,” according to an internal memo.

The internal memo describes Dave Smith as someone with “exceptional credentials having been in the Radio industry for 19 years, 10 of those years spent with ARN, but more specifically the last 5 years as Program Director for GOLD FM. Dave is a talented and motivated individual and will bring a wealth of experience to an already highly successful and talented team of people.”

Australian Radio Network has moved just as quickly to fill the gap, announcing that Mark Johnson will replace Smith effective immediately.

ARN’s Melbourne General Manager, Steve Smith told radioinfo:

“For the past six years Mark had been GOLD104’s Music Director and a driving force behind the station’s outstanding ratings. With more than 21 years experience in radio, both on-air and behind the scenes, Mark is one of the key players at ARN… The station’s Good Times And Great Classic Hits music line up is a key differentiator and Mark has been largely responsible for this success.”

A big party is planned at Austereo Melbourne to welcome Smith and farewell Brian Ford.

Dave Smith’s move follows hard on the heals of Dean Pickering’s departure recently.