Talk Talent not confined to Sydney and Melbourne: Peter Brennan

 Last month we posted an article titled, Why are Bris, Adel and Perth music cities while Sydney and Melbourne are Talk Towns? 
To get their opinions, we spoke to MacRadio CEO, Adam Lang, former Fairfax radio boss, Graham Mott and ARN’s content supremo Duncan Campbell
The conclusion was that talk is more popular in our largest markets because they can afford the best talent. “The top talent works in Sydney and Melbourne. No question about that. And the third best talk talent works at FIVEaa,” said Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Graham Mott.

But experienced program director, Peter Brennan begs to differ…

Above: Duncan Campbell, Graham Mott, Adam Lang

I acknowledge the comments from the three esteemed radio execs in relation to this piece. However, it would be remiss of the industry as a whole to not recognise the extraordinary talk talent both Perth and Adelaide have produced.
Adelaide has been a fertile breeding ground for successful commercial talk radio practitioners for many decades. None more impressive than the 2015 Hall of Famer, Jeremy Cordeuax (left). For nearly thirty years from the mid-70’s his morning show ‘The Court Of Public Opinion’ was at or near the top of the Adelaide radio ratings. In 1984 Cordeaux won the Walkley Award for Best Current Affairs Show in Australia. And in 2006 he was awarded an Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the broadcasting industry, and for his support of various charitable organisations. He currently hosts nights on FiveAA and is a true Adelaide icon. 
Speaking of which the man Cordeaux replaced at FiveAA, the late Bob “Fatty” Francis, was arguably the original Australian “shock jock”. From 1985 to 2013 Bob commanded ratings of 24% plus hosting nights which helped him earn him an Australian Radio Hall Of Fame gong in 2005. 
Also on FiveAA, KG Cunningham owned the drive slot from the mid-80’s until 2008 with his all talk ‘Sports Show’. He enjoyed a number of co-hosts including former test cricketer, the late David Hookes, and former Adelaide Crows coach, Graeme Cornes. KG’s ‘Sports Show’ was compulsory listening in sports mad Adelaide.
In the noughties, FiveAA’s breakfast show hosted by the legendary Baz and Pilko enjoyed extraordinary success. From 1992 to 1997 the boys rated at or near the top. After they aired their final show in 1997 on FIVEAA, Pilko remained with the station and formed a decade long partnership with Keith Conlon. Together they had an unrivalled run of 45 consecutive number one ratings over their last five years together.
Perth has also enjoyed great success with commercial talk formats. The man once described as “The Laws of the West”, Howard Sattler, spent almost 40 years broadcasting to the market, mostly at 6PR. To compare him to the great Laws is somewhat unfair as Sattler was a true radio firebrand who’d like nothing better than a good stoush. An outstanding journalist, Sattler was controversial, raw, opinionated and above all passionate. Between 1985 and 2013 he dominated Perth’s morning ratings. With 120 straight wins over his main talk rivals at the ABC. Along the way collecting 5 RAWARDS.
Also in the West a fella by the name of Bob Maumill left his mark at 6PR. Maumill had stints at various stations around Australia but it was an on/off love affair with 6PR that saw him spend most of his 40 year career with the station. ‘Maumill at Midday’ was a massive success which realised a 1992 RAWARD for Best Current Affairs – Metro. 
Also in Perth, 60 Minutes’ Liam Bartlett enjoyed huge success presenting talk radio shows on both 6PR and 720 ABC. In 1997 Bartlett tied with Alan Jones for the Best Current Affairs RAWARD. And in 2003 was awarded Best News Program at the New York International Radio Festival.
Then, of course, there was Graham Mabury. Graham was presenter of Radio 6PR’s Nightline program for 33 years – something of a record for commercial radio. During this timeframe it became the most successful local evening radio program in Perth. Graham retired from hosting Nightline in late 2014.


When discussing the popularity of talk radio in Perth one cannot ignore the achievements of Eoin Cameron. Cameron was a 47 year radio veteran who broadcast on great radio stations including 6VA in Albany, then 6IX Perth and 3DB in Melbourne. But it was his top rating breakfast show on 702 ABC Perth from 2002 to 2014 that earned Eion Cameron the status of radio legend.
Success of talk radio in ANY market is dependent on having the right talent and the right people to support that talent. So, back to the basics. Where do we find the talent and WHO the hell is looking for it
However, there is one other thing to consider and that’s the CULTURE of the market. Brisbane is arguably the only major cap city in Australia where, historically, talk has not captured the imagination of the available audience. I put that down to a cultural divide. ‘Brissie’ is a town populated by people who, by and large, are happy with their lot. They’re an easy going mob who enjoy loads of sunshine, a “she’ll be right” view of life, and a laissez faire attitude. Hence, the relevance and importance of news/talk/opinion based radio may well be marginalised.
About the Author
Peter Brennan was the PD who, in 1993, took FiveAA from a quasi TAB Radio/talk/Sports format to a 24/7 commercial talk station. Within 12 months it went from a cellar dweller to number one. He then spent some time as PD at 2GB and 2UE, and was for a time Manager Local Radio, NSW at the ABC, responsible for the running of all ABC stations in NSW including the then 702 ABC Sydney.

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