The network content director told Mediaweek it has been an amazing year of growth. “If you look at our national audience we have grown from 2.8m to 3.3m (metro and regional). We had a very successful year for The Hot Breakfast in Melbourne plus also a great year for Adelaide and Perth (Mix 94.5). We did have a few challenges in Sydney and Brisbane.”
Fitzpatrick said the challenges in Sydney aren’t related to the breakfast team talent. “It is a very cluttered market and we are a niche radio station. We have done some work on broadening the breakfast show by hiring Emma Freedman. Similarly hiring Robin Bailey in Brisbane is a terrific addition to our arsenal.”
Fitzpatrick wasn’t predicting massive changes to the Brisbane radio landscape in 2017. “Our target will remain men. Robin could bring some male listeners over from 97.3 and a few women too. Robin is an excellent broadcaster and she started her career at Austereo. We always had her in the back of our mind as a possible host, but knowing she was contracted to ARN we hadn’t seriously considered the possibility until she fell in our lap.”
Fitzpatrick found himself negotiating Bailey’s contract with his former Austereo CEO-turned-manager Brad March. How did that go? “It was pretty easy…” [Laughs]
Chasing Melbourne males
With Melbourne AM sport station SEN investing significantly with a new breakfast show to be hosted by former Triple M AFL broadcaster Garry Lyon, Fitzpatrick spoke about the talent loss and any threat to Triple M.
“We haven’t lost anybody we weren’t happy to lose,” was his brutal but honest assessment of the recent radio moves. “The people staying on Triple M football next year are the ones we want to keep. There are some personal issues as to why we couldn’t have Garry. SEN is a problem solver for men who just love sport, sport and more sport. They are not interested in entertainment, they are not interested in news, they are not interested in music, they are not interested in comedy…they just want sport. They solve a problem for those men very well.
“However, that is a very small audience. I am confident we have the best talent on Triple M by far.”
Fitzpatrick then rattled off nine names of just some of his AFL team and then said, “[SEN] have got Garry Lyon and Danny Frawley.”
As to James Brayshaw’s commitment to Triple M in 2017 after his recent split with Nine, Fitzpatrick said Brayshaw remains a weekday drive host and the anchor for the Saturday afternoon AFL coverage. Although he is no longer part of the Friday night team, Fitzpatrick noted he will be part of Triple M’s cricket coverage.