Staff learnt of Sports Radio axing after news broke
Staff from the ill-fated Macquarie Sports Radio only learnt of the station's planned axing of live shows after news broke online.
The Daily Telegraph revealed on Tuesday the all-sports radio station would undergo a dramatic revamp which basically sounds the death-knell for the Nine-owned radio station,
which broadcasts in Sydney on 954AM, Melbourne's 1278AM and Brisbane's 882AM.
Struggling ratings have plagued the station ever since it came into existence in April last year.
Live programming, including the popular Mark Levy, Mark Riddell and Jimmy Bartel breakfast show ends this Friday just 18 months after the station was launched.
Levy and Riddell are part of sister-station's 2GB Continuous Call Team while Levy has successfully filled in for Ray Hadley during the star presenter's absence. Morning presenter David Morrow and afternoon host James Willis are also part of the 2GB stable.
The station had tried everything to improve ratings, broadcasting a range of sports including international cricket, AFL and rugby league, but it failed to raise the numbers.
There were also a string of high-profile hosts including weekend duo Roy Slaven and H.G Nelson.
But other on-air personalities and producers will be out of work come Friday.
The station said on Tuesday it would fulfil its commitment to the summer of cricket and English Premier League matches. However, it is unclear what will go to air around those contractual obligations.
The decision to suspend live programs comes, embarrassingly, after Macquarie Sports Radio announced on Monday AFL hall of fame legend Kevin Bartlett was joining the station. He was meant to make his debut on Saturday live from Flemington to kick off Derby Day and the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Instead, the station will stop broadcasting shows from 11pm on Friday but will remain on air.
Macquarie Media chairman Russell Tate said broadcasting would be "paused and reviewed" over summer.
The station rated just 1.1 per cent in the latest ratings survey - compared to 2GB's 13.3 per cent.
Macquarie Media chairman Russell Tate said:
"Macquarie Media Limited today announced that development of its Macquarie Sports Radio stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be paused and reviewed over the summer months and that the current schedule of sport talk programs will cease as of 11pm, Friday 1 November.
"Over the coming months, Macquarie Sports Radio will continue live sport broadcasts including all scheduled Test Match, BBL, One-Day Internationals & International T20 Cricket matches as well as its English Premier League coverage. The stations will draw an increased amount of content from local and international partners, including Macquarie Media's News Talk stations and Nine, and will continue to access Macquarie National News services for constantly updated sporting news."
Sad for my former colleagues at Macquarie Sports Radio. A small and hard working team pumping out hours and hours of content. Best of luck guys.— Matt Thompson (@MattThompson) October 29, 2019
Employees soon to be out of work have told friends and colleagues they are on the lookout for new jobs.
Some staff only learnt of the station's axing after reading it on the Telegraph website on Tuesday and had yet to be briefed by station management.
Staff were emailed on Monday asking them to a meeting to discuss significant changes to the radio station.
The station being put on hold comes as Nine Entertainment continues to shake-up and rationalise the business. Last week it made $800,000-a-year chief executive Adam Lang redundant.
It was on Mr Lang's watch in March 2018 that Macquarie Sports Radio was started, replacing the poor performing Talking Lifestyle programs.
Macquarie Sports in Sydney used to be the old talkback station 2UE, which switched to a lifestyle channel from 2016-18.
In April last year, the station underwent another revamp and was relaunched as a sports network, covering the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
But that move has failed to resonate with listeners.