New city, new show: Ben, Liam & Belle on making the move to Melbourne

ben liam and belle

Plus: The show’s newest marketing campaign and what the future holds

In October last year, Chrissie, Sam & Browny announced that they would be leaving their Nova 100 breakfast show after seven years behind the mic together. A week after the announcemenrt, Nova Entertainment confirmed the industry rumour that Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton – with their long-time producer Belle Jackson – would be moving from Adelaide to Melbourne as Ben, Liam & Belle.

Whilst it’s the first time living in Melbourne for Harvey and Stapleton, the move sees Jackson returning to her hometown.

The freshly expanded team wasted no time in staring their new gig, with their first show going to air on December 5th, broadcasting all the way up to December 23rd. Ben, Liam & Belle returned for 2023 on January 4th. 

With just over a month under their belts, Harvey, Stapleton, and Jackson told Mediaweek all about their big move, their new campaign, and what comes next.

Making the Move

It’s a big decision for anybody to pack their bags and move state for work, but this isn’t the trio’s first rodeo. 

Stapleton: “I think what’s made it a little bit easier is that we’ve all had to move for our jobs in the past. This is probably extra easy for Belle being able to come home! Ben and I have had the pleasure of living back in our hometown, and now we’ve got a new adventure. When we moved to Sydney six years back, it was the first time we’d moved out – so it was a bit of a different story. 

“Being from Adelaide as well, you’re pretty used to going to Melbourne for the footy and all sorts of different things.”

Harvey, Stapleton, and Jackson

Settling into their new roles in Melbourne, the show has officially expanded from a duo to a trio. For Harvey and Stepleton – who have been a duo since their teenage years on community radio – the change has felt like a natural evolution.

Harvey: “We’ve found it quite easy, because we’ve worked with Belle for the last five or six years – anyone who listens to the show would know that Belle was on probably 60% of the time anyway! She’s just added an extra 40% to her repertoire

“It’s pretty much like brothers and sister. The chemistry is already there, now she’s just on more.”

Stapleton: “It’s been even easier than I thought it would be. I thought ‘oh, there are certain breaks that Belle wasn’t involved in before, will it be weird?’ – no, not at all. It’s been super breezy so far, and I hope it sounds that way!

“We’ve got a long way to go still, but it feels like we picked up where we left off, not like we’re necessarily starting an entirely new show.”

Despite having previously spent so much time on air with Harvey and Stapleton in Adelaide, dropping the ‘Producer’ part of her ‘Producer Belle’ title has still been a significant move for Jackson.

Jackson: “I’ve probably had the biggest change out of everyone in the team, because I’ve transitioned from doing the on-air stuff, while also doing the phones, and managing all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Now, I can focus on being on-air and having fun. 

“It’s been such an eye-opener being on the other side of it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more or a smoother transition.”

Despite only having been on air for a short amount of time, Melbourne listeners have thrown their support behind Ben, Liam & Belle, calling in to share their stories each morning. When asked if they’ve found mych difference between their Adelaide audience and their Melbourne audience, Jackson points out that Melbounre listeners are “much more receptive to everything that we’ve been doing.” 

Harvey: “In Adelaide, by the end we had it humming but when we first started, it was sometimes a little bit tricky to get people to come along with the bits that we were doing. 

“Maybe it’s been beginner’s luck here, but it’s been nice – throwing something out there and having a good response each time, and having some really great stories is cool. It’s the lifeblood of our show.”

Jackson: “They’ve been so welcoming, and so supportive already. The callers have been the sweetest ever, they really exceeded our expectations.”

Adelaide listeners haven’t totally lost the trio in the morning, however. Ben, Liam & Belle can be caught on a local early breakfast show from 6am to 7am weekdays – ahead of Jodie & Hayesy, who are taking the Breakfast reins on Nova 919.

Harvey: “At the moment it’s all the best bits from the show, and then if there’s any bespoke Adelaide stuff, we’ll also do that. It’s a mix.”

When asked whether that means that they have to stay across the news from two cities instead of just one, Stapleton jokes “yes, for the pay of one, work that out!”

New to Melbourne

Announced on Friday morning, Nova is launching a new full-scale multi-channel campaign called New To Melbourne to get the word out about the Ben, Liam & Belle show. Featuring a series of TVCs, the campaign will run across TV, cinema, BOVD, digital and social channels, and is supported by OOH. 

The TVCs feature Jackson teaching Harvey and Stapleton about her hometown, covering topics like ordering coffee, beer glass sizes, and – striking fear into the hearts of all non-Melburnian drivers – hook turns.

Stapleton: “We were stoked with those, because normally in radio, you definitely do real cookie-cutter ads that are the same for every show – feel good music, plug something in, a flashing sign turns on or something like that. But this was a bit different, they let us have a bit more creative control

“The team behind it had some really good ideas, and we worked with a great production company called Red Engine. We got to muck about around the city and make them more Melbourne specific.”

Jackson: “And more us!”

Radio is an incredibly local medium, and it’s not a common move to highlight the fact that two thirds of a new breakfast show aren’t from the city that they’re broadcasting in. The trio are leaning into the chaos of learning about life in a new city, however, and Melburnians will be seeing the campaign while they’re out and about for the next three months. 

Harvey:You don’t have to be from a city to be successful on the breakfast show there. In fact, a lot of the biggest shows aren’t necessarily from where they are successful. I’m glad we’re not shying away from it, and having some fun with it – and Belle is a local so it’s not like we all have no idea what’s going on!”

Looking Ahead

Since joining Nova 919 in January 2020, the Ben & Liam show have broadcast from a billboard, been locked up to support Lifeline, and revealed themselves as the Googly Eyes Bandits. The trio were tight-lipped about any plans they had for their new home, but admit that “there are some pretty crazy ideas flying around.”

Stapleton: “We’ve always tried to do bigger things – look at the history of the show from our community radio days, even then we were trying to do things to make noise. Throughout the years – you can certainly see after Triple J and coming to Nova – when there are bigger teams and bigger budgets available, you’re allowed to pull off more spectacular things. 

“We’ve already had a few ideas thrown out there to the team that probably made them go, ‘okay, interesting. I don’t know if we’ll make that work’. But we’re often surprised by what the people at Nova can help pull off.”

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