There seems to be a giant game of musical chairs happening in Perth radio at the moment, with retirements, comebacks and the odd bit of station-swapping all thrown into the mix. The latest round of the game isn’t entirely unexpected though - often when one announcer quits or retires or ascends to the giant radio station in the sky, the music starts playing and Perth’s fairly limited pool of presenters start circling the chairs until it stops.
The current game was sparked by the retirement of the much loved ABC breakfast show host Eoin Cameron (who sadly passed away not long after he hung up his headphones for the last time). This left the ABC with an empty chair that was almost impossible to fill. Various presenters sat in it temporarily until the ABC offered the gig to ex Freo Dockers captain Peter Bell, who was lured over from rival station 6PR. By his own admission, Bell had a bit of a bumpy first week and the ABC will be hoping the ride smoothes out quickly.
Bell’s departure from his afternoon program at 6PR left the station with an empty chair there, as the music continued to play. The station announced this week that former employee Simon Beaumont was making a comeback. Beaumont worked at the station for years as a producer, mostly for the breakfast show, and later had a crack at presenting mornings before he was unceremoniously dumped and went off to work at the Department of Sport and Recreation. But that all seems to be water under the bridge, and 6PR will now be hoping he can revive the afternoon program’s lacklustre ratings as he goes up against the woman with the best laugh in radio, Gillian O’Shaughnessy.
But Beaumont isn’t the only one having a crack at resurrecting his radio career. Veteran broadcaster Peter Newman (brother of Channel 7’s Jeff) is also making a return to the studio. Newman had a very long stint as Curtin FM’s breakfast presenter before hanging up his headphones a couple of years ago while he addressed some mental health issues. He’s back to present 6PR’s Sunday brunch program, a slot which was left open when controversial presenter Bob Maumill finally retired in September.
If the rumour mill is correct, the musical chairs won’t stop there. A story has surfaced on PerthNow claiming senior Channel Nine journalist Liam Bartlett has been approached to take over the 6PR morning program from current host and West journo Gary Adshead. Bartlett was once the host of the ABC’s morning program, but jumped ship to present 6PR’s morning program for about five minutes before he landed a coveted gig on 60 Minutes. After almost seven years of covering stories around the world, Bartlett returned to Channel Nine Perth last year.
Landing Bartlett would be quite the coup for 6PR, with the current morning program lagging behind its ABC rival Geoff Hutchison in the ratings by more than three points. But Bartlett’s arrival would mean Adshead would have to join the game – with PerthNow suggesting he might slip into the drive time seat. This in turn would de-throne that program’s current host Adam Shand, whose ratings are currently only slightly behind rival Jane Marwick over at ABC.
Considering 6PR lost its much loved general manager Martin Boylen in a shock restructure earlier this year, and its long-standing program director John Solvander jumped ship/was nudged out not long after, 6PR has gone through a pretty turbulent year, and it’s reflected in the current ratings.
But audiences should be assured that once the music stops on this latest round of musical chairs, chances are it won’t start up again for a while.
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