Seven Perth news director Ray Kuka on keeping the bulletin a market leader

Channel Seven Perth's

Consistency with a winning team that includes Rick and Susannah, Barra and Ben, Geof and Jessica

Any visit to Western Australia to speak to people helping shape the news means a visit to Seven Perth News.

Seven West Media runs a truly merged newsroom in the state capital where Seven reporters sit alongside journalists for The West Australian. On the edge of the open space office sits the two leaders of the big team – The West Australian editor Anthony De Ceglie and Seven Perth news director Ray Kuka.

It’s been a long time since Seven Perth wasn’t the #1 rating news service. Kuka has worked in news around the world. He was a reporter at Seven in Sydney who was sent to Seven 15 years ago for his first stint in the market. “Back then I really didn’t understand the power of Seven in Perth until I got here,” Kuka told Mediaweek.

“The presenters – Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr – have been reading together for 38 years, a Guinness World Record. Other things that make a difference include the engagement with the community through things like Telethon are so important.”

See also: Channel Seven Perth news anchors certified as world’s longest-serving TV news duo

Kuka said although some think it would be easy for Seven to cruise along in first place without too much effort, the team take the journalism so seriously. “We don’t take being #1 for granted. In a way, it is almost more stressful knowing we have to maintain that record of being #1 for over 20 years since OzTAM began.

Seven Perth News

Seven Perth News director Ray Kuka. Photo: Danella Bevis –The West Australian

Exclusives key to Seven Perth News’ daily dominance

During the time Mediaweek was in Perth, Kuka explained: “We have led the 6pm bulletin every day this week with exclusives. We revealed a man on Rottnest Island, Perth’s prized holiday island, was a paedophile. He is someone the many people who have been there will recognise. It crept under the radar because he pleaded guilty early.”

Another story was an exclusive about two sisters speaking out about the brutal murder of a third sister in a domestic violence case. When calling a press conference about the case the following day, Perth’s police commissioner started by recounting how he watched the report on Seven News the previous evening. “The commissioner conceded there was a system failure that led to her death. Would he have done the press conference if we hadn’t done the story? I don’t think so. That’s an example of something we can do with our brand and we really take it seriously.”

Seven News Perth: a world view, but local leads

Because of the Perth time zone, Seven takes the opportunity to have Kuka liaise with Seven’s European team in the evening to check on stories being chased for the following day. While Seven News in Perth does carry international and national news, the bulletin feels a little more parochial than what viewers might get in Sydney.

“I’m not sure about that,” said Kuka, who has worked on the news in both markets. “Sydney possibly thinks a little bit bigger picture. Maybe a little bit more national and worldly. We try to lead on local when we can because Perth people are more parochial. Not dissimilar to how Adelaide and Brisbane are too. Melbourne and Sydney perhaps less so.”

When it comes to constructing the bulletin, Seven Perth has a plan. “We always want exclusives. That is the selling point when people can the news at any minute of the day. We have something called Local Champions which we run in the fourth break just before sport. We wanted to engage with the suburbs a bit more. We felt there were some stories going untold. Every Sunday and Wednesday for eight weeks we went and found people making a difference. Another segment came from reporter Graeme Butler, who’s been a reporter for over 30 years. He now has a segment called Butler’s Budget Buster every Tuesday night. People are struggling with the cost of living, inflation and home loan rates.

“Even our sports segment might be different to the rest of the country. On Mondays, we have Barra’s Breakdown. The ex-West Coast Eagles footballer who played 20 years ago for them, Adrian Barich, talks about the big moments of the weekend and the things to watch and any fallout from the results.”

Seven Perth News

Adrian Barich and Ben Cousins

The Perth bulletins feature the coaches of both Perth AFL teams, both of whom sadly saw no September action this year, talking about why their teams were so bad or not. “With Eagles’ coach Adam Simpson under so much pressure to keep his job this year, people switch to us to hear him justify what he’s been doing.

“[Former Eagle] Ben Cousins is back working with us. He has a huge profile and has started reading our morning news. He also does a segment on the Thursday evening news called Barra and Ben’s Breakdown where they look at the game coming on the weekend. The players to watch and who might win and why.

“We are already working on how the Perth teams are rebuilding to be more competitive next year.”

State politics has special importance in Western Australia. “Perth was so different during Covid,” Kuka reminded us. “Former premier Mark McGowan had a rating over 90% when he shut the borders. We have two state political reporters. Geof Parry is our state political editor and he has over 40 years’ experience having worked here, Canberra, overseas and recently back from Ukraine. We also have Jessica Page who is the state political reporter.”

National is certainly not ignored though. “Seven’s political editor Mark Riley writes a column for The West Australian so the engagement with him in the West is pretty big too.”

Around the state, Seven’s regional bulletins go out at 5.30pm followed by the Perth news at 6pm.

Main photo: Seven Perth news presenters Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr

Mediaweek – How Seven West Media makes news. See also:

Anthony De Ceglie keeps The West Australian in the middle, yet as provocative as possible

Craig McPherson: Seven News working on metro clean sweep in best year of ratings in a decade

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