Today FM hopes Tova and raw talent win the day


MediaWorks has announced the name of their new social networking site and its broadcasters but, as Mark Jennings writes, has chosen a difficult day if they are expecting more topics.

The imminent migration of Tova O’Brien from TV3 to MediaWorks was reflected in a number of plans by the radio company to launch a new radio station. The move to a top political journalist sparked MediaWorks news and reports, Dallas Gurney demanded.

Two days after O’Brien’s announcement, Gurney confirmed to well-known journalists Duncan Garner and Rachel Smalley had also joined (to be named). A week later he played another card – Mark Richardson and Polly Gillespie signed. It is called strength training.

Two weeks later the final part of the picture arrived in the press boxes – the name of the radio and the time of each recipient (although we knew Tova had breakfast) will be revealed.

The day was yesterday, but the unpredictability of the news business, as they often do, boosted their efforts. The National Party riots filled the media and, with a little more pain, a recent radio survey was released. A GfK survey found that Newstalk ZB, which wants to follow MediaWorks’ new station, went up a notch.

Either Gurney expected ZB to fall off his head recently or maybe he did not realize that the latest results would come at the same time with his big show – in any case the loud scream of NZME (owner of ZB) must have hurt.

In the past, Newstalk ZB, which was also the number one commercial radio station in the country, added 42,000 listeners to about 713,000 people each week. Gurney and O’Brien – on respite – will need to make a stop and stop for the runaway train driver Mike Hosking.

The Hosking morning show grew its audience by 34,000 to over 490,000.

MediaWorks’ More FM was the second breakfast program for 303,000 listeners worldwide but dropped 28,000 from the time it was interviewed.

Interestingly, Hosking acquired 9.6 shares in the largest market, Auckland. Gurney later described the abundance of ZB as “watering the eyes.”

So why not just start if O’Brien loses power?

Gurney says recent history shows that raw talent can win the day.

“In 1987 Paul Holmes was also new. He was fired from a number of RNZ shows, after going and doing his OE and when he was announced to take Merv Smith, what everyone did was – ‘what?’

“I know that [like Holmes] Tova has a fire in her stomach. “

Announcing the name of the new radio station, Lero FM, Gurney joined in the drop-offs.

Rachel Smalley will start at 5am and warm up O’Brien’s chair which starts at 6.30am. Garner will follow O’Brien at 9am. Mark Richardson and Leah Panapa will perform at noon, which should be more emphasis on entertainment than breakfast. Gurney says Richardson and Panapa have chemistry.

Former cricketer and broadcaster Mark Richardson. Photo: Presented

“They’re good friends who don’t have one before. I think together, in the air, their jokes can make something electronic.”

Lloyd Burr, who is currently airing the show on Magic Talk will remain at the venue with Polly Gillespie performing overnight. Gurney says the Gillespie show will be followed by international demonstrations in which audiences talk about “challenges and successes in life” instead of just complaining. “This will be a forum for communication and not for socializing,” he says.

Gurney hears that MediaWorks has found its time and Lero FM will do well when the directors of Live and Magic failed.

“When you look at the politics of this world there is a lot of fear, anxiety and fear. Our vision is about helping to solve this problem and not just throwing a bear.

“The audience we are following is a group of people in their 40s and 50s who are not looking … who want to be in the audience. We do not want to be a house with old ideas.

“The name, Today FM, conveys some ideas. We want to create a radio station that represents New Zealand today.”

Gurney admits that Today is not the beginning. There are many radio and TV shows in America, Australia, Ireland and other countries that carry the same moniker.

Today FM is the name Paul Henry gave to a radio station he had briefly owned in Masterton in the early 90’s.

“Today is the name we came up with but we did it with ours [advertising] organization and came up with 25 different names. Eventually we went back to where we started and I think nothing succeeds ‘Today’.

The FM section of the radio name should be interesting to Mediaworks.

When Radio Live became Magic Talk it lost 100.6 FM frequencies to its radio station, Magic Music. It is not known where Auckland FM frequencies, and other cities like Tauranga, come from.

“I agree we can’t be the future of radio and stay on AM. But we haven’t got there yet – there are a lot of balls in the air and sending is one.”

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