Dominating Perth Radio: In the studio with Nova’s Nathan, Nat and Shaun

Nathan Nat Shaun

Hosts recall how Gary Roberts had a plan for 93.7 breakfast…it worked spectacularly well

Nova 93.7 Perth breakfast with Nathan, Nat and Shaun is labelled as one of the most successful FM breakfast shows in Australia with good reason.

The show has dominated Perth breakfast radio for a number of years and it boasts the highest metro FM breakfast shares in the country. How big? In six of the last nine surveys the program was on a 20% or better share and in the most recent Perth survey recorded an all-time high of 22.5%. The station is enjoying a breakfast-winning streak of 31 surveys.

In the past 12 months hosts Nathan Morris and Natalie Locke have celebrated 20 years on air. Mediaweek got to sit inside the studio with the hosts recently. It was a day where Shaun McManus had a rare day off for a medical procedure which was much discussed on the show before and after the event. McManus has been with his colleagues for 14 years now.

These announcers know each other so well that they have a habit of finishing each other sentences. They still clearly have a passion for what they do and it shines through in their spirited answers.”

Not all breakfast teams seem comfortable with a guest in the studio during the show. But Nathan and Nat were very welcoming. There was non-stop chatter in between all the talk breaks and live reads. They sat Mediaweek down between them both, giving us Shaun’s seat and even offering the blanket he uses early mornings when the air con is too effective.

See also: “I’ve done some amazing things”: Nova 93.7’s Nathan Morris marks 20 years behind the mic

Nat told Mediaweek that much of the audience has been along for their 20-year journey: “People say things like they used to listen to us on their way to school when they were seven. Now they are grown adults. Some of them are people with children now, it feels like a whole generation of listeners.”

Nathan added: “When someone who is 20 walks up to you in a bar and says they were born the year the show started it’s actually disgusting. [Laughs] They think it might make us feel good, but it doesn’t!

“We had a dating segment many years ago that eventually created marriages and children. Their children are now 18. Without us doing that segment that family wouldn’t have been created. It blows us away and the fact we have been on air long enough to watch a family grow.

Nathan, Nat and Shaun in the studio with Mary Poppins (aka Stefanie Jones) this week

Nova 93.7 still plays the hits

When mentioning that Nova music remains contemporary, Nat interrupts, “Do you mean the music might be young but we are now old?” [Laughs]

Nathan: “People think because of the music we play we are after a certain demographic. You need to understand that peoples’ tastes are now so different. Our older listeners connect with the younger content.”

Nat: “We are still very strong with 10-17 listeners, even though they weren’t born when we started on air.”

Nathan: “If you produce good content that is funny and relatable it can appeal to any age.

After all those years on air there seems to be no shortage of fresh ideas. “Sometimes we notice we come across something we might have done in the past. But we have a fresh take on it,” said Nat.

Nathan: “Sometimes we have a subject that is worth repeating and it might get a very different response when it runs again.”

Nat: “We are also always coming up with ideas and topics that we have never done before.”

Most important part of the Nova team

Although Nova Entertainment puts its breakfast stars on the billboards, Nathan, Nat and Shaun realise it is not just about them.

Although the show is called Nathan, Nat and Shaun, it should be Nathan, Nat and Shaun and callers,” explained Nathan.

“Our callers are unbelievable and the things they share are actually quite shocking. One of our biggest strengths is talking to our callers.”

And it is all real. “We have never faked callers or had staff members organised to call in with a story. We have never had to,” said Nat.

“If we ever didn’t get a call for a topic we will admit that on air.”

Team Nathan, Nat and Shaun

Anchor and panel op Harry Fitzgerald: He’s been with Nova for five years and he started in sales.
Amy Carter is the Nova 93.7 breakfast executive producer and has notched up over a decade with the station.
Samuel England is the digital content producer for breakfast.
Zach Taylor is the audio producer.
Prea Cunningham is assistant producer.
Ellie Petricevic is Nova 93.7 breakfast newsreader.
Joel Gelding is Nova 93.7 program manager.
Natalie McNeill is Nova 93.7 manager – audience engagement and assistant program director and has worked on radio in Dubai and Perth.

“It is so important having the right people around you,” said Nathan. “It makes everything just so much easier,” added Nat. “We have been very lucky.”

Marketing Nova Perth

The breakfast team probably don’t need much of a marketing spend as they dominate so much. “Now and then I do see a bus with my head on it,” laughed Nat.

Nathan: “When we first started our boss Gary Roberts said he wouldn’t start advertising the breakfast show until the product was ready to advertise.”
Nat interjected: “That took 15 years.” [Laughs]

Nathan, Nat and Shaun where the magic happens

Podcast reach

The Nathan, Nat and Shaun podcast draws a crowd, with listeners telling the trio that expats who’ve left Perth love keeping in touch with their home city.

Nat: “We don’t follow the numbers, but we hear from people who are a little homesick for Perth. They sometimes tell us a particular episode was the most listened to ever.”

It’s a slick operation under the guidance of panel op Harry who manages the on-air log, recording the podcast intro quickly during a song in the last half hour of the show.

The Nova breakfast show will run extended chats when the content warrants it. Nathan: “If we are talking to a celebrity we will have a 10-minute chat without taking a break if it is engaging. The longer we talk to guests or amongst ourselves, we get to more of the good stuff.”

Nat: “But that can be hard when there are timer pressures.”

Like any good breakfast show, bringing the production team into the content gives the listeners special insights. Nathan, Nat and Shaun also share the good and the bad during the show’s three hours.

Nat: “We are very open about what happens. A stuff up is content too. Everybody stuffs up. Why not own it instead of trying to paper over them.”

Nathan: “Panicking and trying to cover it up is not something you should do. We know not to worry when that happens. It’s best to call it out and make something funny out of it. A younger show might worry that they are not being professional. We don’t worry about being professional.
Nat: “We gave that up long ago.” [Laughs]

Former reality TV star Nathan: “When I first got hired after Big Brother I was told not to lose what I had as a housemate. Nova said they didn’t want radio people. I wasn’t a radio person, Nat’s not a radio person, and Shaun’s definitely not a radio person.” Nat laughed hard at that last explainer.

The trio get offers to appear on the smorgasbord of reality shows across the three commercial networks.

Nathan: “Reality TV is a game for somebody who has nothing to lose. Back in the day there was a great duty of care. When I was on Big Brother they would not air anything that would make me look controversial. Nowadays they would air it, dig out every moment and stretch it, really hitting the viewer over the head with it.

“We have too much to lose going on a show now.”

Nat: “We are not desperate enough yet. Get back to us in a few years’ time.”

Visiting The Lodge with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Breakfast rules

Nathan arrives at the studio each day with a list of possible topics. But there’s no hard or fast rules about not discussing topics until they are on air. “If I have something to show Nat and Shaun I won’t do it beforehand though. I want to keep their reaction fresh.”

The presenters are not chronic over sharers, usually, when it comes to their private life. If there is such a thing as a private life for a breakfast radio announcer.

Nat explained: “We do have friends who say, ‘You can’t use this on air.’ That happens quite a lot.”

Nathan: “When that happens we will work around it and ask them is it OK if we change the names. As a rule we would never betray the trust of our friends and family. We also haven’t ever betrayed a confidence when a celebrity has been on the show and mentioned something off air they didn’t want made public.”

The two mentioned a particular Boy George interview where he spoke candidly about another celebrity. Nat: “He thought he had hung up after the interview. We heard it and were still recording. Other shows might have used that because it was super juicy!”

Relationships are important to the show. “Just don’t be an asshole,” is how Nathan describes the show’s attitude. Nat: “We are not a gotcha show.”

Selling breakfast radio

Nathan, Nat and Shaun make themselves available when the sales department comes knocking. “We have clients come in to watch the show,” said Nat. “Nathan also comes up with a lot of the competition ideas for clients.”

Nathan: “When we get a brief we will come up with a number of different executions and then the client ticks off on the best one. It then means we feel really connected to it.”

With such a dominant program in the market, do the hosts get extra rope from Nova when it comes to what a low-rating show might have to do. “It gives us nothing,” said Nat.

Nathan: “Do we get treated any more special? No.” [Laughs]

“That’s the way it should be. We do the show to be the best it can be for the audience. The ratings are a bonus.”

Nat: “We used to have a pipe dream of hitting 15% but it seemed unattainable.”

Nathan: “That was our ultimate career goal.”

Nat: “To be where we are now seems unfathomable. And we do know no one works harder. We have checked.” Nat refers to a segment where they defied their listeners to call in with a job that is harder than sitting in a radio studio for a few hours every day!

See also: How Nova 93.7 became “the default station” for listeners in Perth

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