The Bunch: Dean “Clairsy” Clairs and Lisa Shaw talk taking on 96FM breakfast

the bunch

• “I can’t remember in all my years there being a more tumultuous, interesting shift in Perth radio”

When Fred Botica hung up his headphones in March after 50 years in radio, Dean “Clairsy” Clairs stepped in to join Lisa Shaw on-air to launch 96FM Perth’s new breakfast show – The Bunch.

Mediaweek spoke with Clairs and Shaw about working together, their feedback so far, and what makes Perth special.

Working together

Even though The Bunch has only been on air for a short amount of time, Clairs and Shaw said that a lot of their on-air chemistry is based in knowing each other outside of the show.

Clairs: “We’ve known each other since 1989, so that helps.”

Shaw: That helps a lot. It feels like we’ve been working together like this for a lot longer than we have. We knew because we go back such a long way, to the late ‘80s, that it was going to be good, but I don’t think we realised how much had sunk in there.”

Fred departing

Fred Botica’s retirement left some sizeable shoes to be filled, but Clairs said that stepping up left him with more nervous excitement than regular nerves.

Clairs: “Really the only nerves are about not stuffing it up.

“You don’t want to stuff up the desk too much when you start, and you want to know the name of the radio station – I think I got it wrong once.”

Shaw: “Fred was very happy with it being Clairsy that he was handing the baton to – me being the baton. I think that helped.

“We had this great crossover week, and it was all really nice and genuine people were happy for the way it had turned out.”

Fred Botica and Lisa Shaw


Both Clairs and Shaw have worked with SCA before finding their current home at ARN. The pair say that while things have changed over their careers, both agree that they feel very comfortable where they are.

Clairs: Well I’ve come from a three person show as the contributing anchor, to a two person show which is something I’ve always wanted to do, a two-hander. So that’s the main difference for me to be honest. And the music style is different to where I was.”

Shaw: “It’s a very comfortable feeling here. It’s not one versus the other, but I feel this very much suits where I am in my own life – and by that I mean my age.”

Clairs: “Level of experience!”

Shaw: “Level of experience! It feels very natural, what we’re dealing with. I feel very comfortable in that I can talk about things that I know the audience is going to get.”

Clairs: I was at SCA for 30 years, so there were different levels and different stages throughout that time as well. So if you’re referring to just the end, it’s very different, and at other stages it feels very similar.

“But we both feel very comfortable, and our references to each other and to the audience, we get it. Same generation.”

Building an Audience

While it will take a while for any show to find its audience, Clairs and Shaw say that early feedback has been positive.

Shaw: “We’ve only been doing this together for a short amount of time, so there’s plenty of time. Sometimes I think it’s just word getting around. Definitely the audience we have I feel have settled in pretty happily.”

Clairs: “Personally I can only go by what Lisa and I have received on the phones, and that’s been people saying they’ve made the switch, or they’re saying ‘welcome back to the airwaves’ to me. So that’s all positive, but as Lisa said, it’s really early days. Fred was here with Lisa in Survey One and a part of Survey Two, so you probably won’t really know what’s going on in Perth until about Survey Four or Five this year.”

Despite how recently The Bunch went to air, the most recent survey showed an upswing of 1.5 points for the breakfast show.

Clairs: “We talked about it the week before, we went ‘oh, wouldn’t it be nice to be 9.5’. We weren’t expecting to be 10.4, so it’s a really good early indicator.”

Shaw: “I can’t remember in all my years there being a more tumultuous, interesting shift in Perth radio in general than at the start of this year, so the whole year will be very interesting to see how it pans out.”

Standing Out

The pair say that their knowledge and spontaneity help them make an impact in the market.

Clairs: “It’s a station and a show set up for its particular demos. We just like getting on and having fun. That doesn’t mean it’s not a prepared show, but a lot of stuff we’re doing is spontaneous, which I really love. We get some things that you may call an arc, and that may be a running gag or something, but I feel like we’re a bit more off the cuff.”

Shaw: I feel like we’re both pretty handy with pop culture according to our demographic, and we both genuinely love music, so you’ve got those two things down that we don’t even have to think about, and that frees you up for the rest of it to just flow pretty easily. There’s also the fact that we do genuinely like each other after all these years.”

Clairs: That’s a good sign!”

Finally, Clairs says that knowing your local market is what will make or break a station.

Clairs: “We’re very Perth, I think that’s the thing we’re really pushing. You can’t beat that. People talk about the way that audio is going along, the way the whole business is going, and if you want to continue to run radio stations and be successful, you have to really focus on your local markets, and we reflect that every time we come on air.”

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