You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

Comment from Peter Saxon.

In a memo, last Thursday, SEN’s National Radio Director Sam Thompson, confirmed to staff that “Sport Entertainment Network’s core business and focus is sport,” Management had decided that the 90 year old 2CH call sign and staff, had become superfluous to their needs. She singled out its Breakfast host Tim Webster for special mention, “for his dedication and commitment to the station.”

And so she should. Without Webster, the station may have been cancelled 12 months earlier.

When SEN purchased 2CH, in June 2020, it was clear that Sydney was the missing link in the necklace that would make SEN,  Sports Entertainment Network, truly national.  SEN CEO Craig Hutchison said at the time, “The opportunity to own and run a commercial licence in Sydney is rare – especially on a station and signal that has built such a loyal audience as 2CH.”

But it wasn’t the 2CH audience that Huchison was after. It was one that was totally into sport.

“Combined with our plans to launch racing service SENTrack into Sydney, we are incredibly excited to expand our footprint into Australia’s biggest city,” Hutchison said.

By August 2020, news broke that the venerable 2CH was to be evicted from its ancestral home at 1170 on the AM band, to make way for SEN to move in. But CH was given a lifeline on the DAB+ platform, where it immediately shot to number one in its first survey, albeit with less than half the listener numbers it had on AM. Since then, it has slipped from an initial 101,000 listeners to 66,000.

In its final survey on AM (Survey 7, 2020) 2CH 1170 posted a 5.0 share. In the most recent survey (3, 2022) SEN1170, posted a 0.4 with a cume of 68,000.

All this, of course, was entirely predictable, especially for a shrewd radio veteran like Tim Webster. Yet, as always, Webster saw the glass half full and was willing to give it a go.

It’s the mark of the man who’s been a total professional all his working life. I doubt if anyone in the past 50 years has been such an accomplished all-rounder. Equally at home on radio and television, he’s totally credible as a newsreader, a sports caster, a talk show host and a music presenter.

The secret to his success? This is me talking, not him. He is deeply passionate about news, sport… perhaps, most of all, music.. Overriding all of that, he is absolutely passionate about his listeners.

I’m not sure if any radio talent coach has used the phrase, ‘look after your audience and they’ll look after you’  perhaps someone should. Last week as the sad end of a long era sunk in, Tim Webster found out just how much his loyal listeners were prepared to look after him.

The following is reprinted, with permission, from Tim Webster’s Facebook page…

A big blanket thank you to radio and FB friends for the sentiments expressed on the end of 2CH and quite possibly the end of radio as we “veterans” know it.

While it’s fair comment to say music on the radio, especially on AM, is not the reason to turn the wireless on that it used to be… it was for 2CH listeners! But,even though the music was the hero and it’s been several different formats over many years it wasn’t JUST the music. Most of us have thousands of songs on our phones we can Bluetooth stream… but, many CH listeners relied on us.

Two quick stories… 84 year old Daphne spent money she probably couldn’t afford to buy a digital radio when we were taken off 1170. A family member tuned it in for her and that’s where it stayed. She was one of the many who phoned our Input Line just confused and quite distraught. One of the calls I made was to Daphne and I have a few more to make. Her neighbour will help her tune the radio onto 954.

Then there’s Tom. He’s in Year 12. He prepared his own audio tribute to CH and sent it to me on Messenger. He loved the music too. He’s 18!

So, that’s why I have been so deeply affected by these people on the other end of microphone. Music? Sure. But, they told me they’ll miss the fun, jokes, comments, humour and most important, the company.

So many of them put the kettle on with the radio first thing in the morning… listened while they got ready for work… in the office… in the car. From North Richmond to Far North Queensland to Country Victoria. They will really miss it. And so will I.

In close to 50 years in broadcasting I’ve never experienced anything like it. If I never do anything else, it will be a cherished memory.

No, it’s not the end of the world and life will go on. They’ll find something else to listen to, but I’ll miss turning the mic on just after 6am to say G’day! So, can’t be ready for the pipe and slippers and lawn bowls!!


Peter Saxon

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