Get off your high horse Wendy Harmer

Dear Wendy,
 
 
Re: your article “A ‘Fail’ for AM radio”
 
 
Unfortunately there’s no way of commenting honestly on your article without being accused by some members of the Old Boys Club of “getting on an even higher horse than Wendy”.

Here goes…

I strongly disagree with you, Wendy. Fiercely. On two crucial points.

1) I can think of one woman in a capital city who is holding down a high-profile commercial AM shift by herself – Amanda Blair.

But, as I can only think of that one example – which unfortunately kind of strengthens your point about the rarity of women in key commercial AM radio roles - I therefore must desperately resort to strongly, fiercely disagreeing with you on this other point…

2) Commercial AM radio is not the last bastion of blokiness in the media, Wendy. Such blokey bastions abound throughout the media. Take commercial FM radio, for example…

Since ancient times back in the ‘90s, as a bastion of blokey employment practices commercial FM radio hasn’t progressed much.

Hasn’t progressed much? Truthfully?

Okay. At all.

Casting aside my mock outrage, your article knocks loudly on the door of a far greater issue, one that continues to be gravely concerning. And there are no signs of progress being made in addressing the gender imbalance in the most significant on-air and off-air roles - those with the greatest impact on the audience. To use one specific example …

What is the gender ratio of Program/Content Directors in 2012 versus back in the medieval-‘90s***? With two dozen commercial FM stations across the five biggest markets, by now you’d think roughly half those stations might have Content/Program Directors who are women. Staff turnover combined with the law of averages would give you, say … twelve women in those roles, give or take?

Not even close.

Quick shout out – name by name - to … every … single … one … of the capital city FM Content/Program Directors who are women, in major markets spanning 4,000 kilometres right across Australia:

Hi Irene!

Hi Donna!

To be clear: in roles that have the greatest impact on the audience - whether on-air or off-air, on AM or FM - it’s not a slight imbalance, it’s not even a major imbalance … there’s just no semblance of balance.

(I would add that there’s not an even balance of women vs men working in Engineering, either – but I’m gathering that’s less of a reflection on gender imbalance and more a reflection of each individual woman’s right to exercise her own free will).

And commercial FM radio hasn’t progressed far in terms of key on-air roles, either…

Because, I must confess, I’m as guilty as one example from Wendy’s article. When the press release came out announcing Chrissie Swan and Jane Hall as Mix 101.1’s new breakfast show, several (female) clients phoned immediately, asking “what do you think of that?”

And I’m embarrassed that, like 2UE’s Chris Parker, I also said “That’ll be seen by the radio industry as a bold and a brave move.” And it really shouldn’t be seen that way. After all, it won’t be seen as a bold and a brave move by the majority of the audience. It’s not like women are Martians. Two Martians on Melbourne breakfast radio – that would be cutting edge stuff. Keep the two feisty Martians on-air together for a whole year and that’s an ACRA for Best PD right there. Martians are notoriously difficult talent.

But two women? It shouldn’t be seen as any more bold and brave than hiring two men.

Try explaining the industry perception to the audience. Ask a bunch of people who aren’t connected in any way to the media to “name all the industries that would see hiring two women into prominent positions as a bold, brave move” … and see where on their list of blokey occupations they rank “presenting a radio show”.

_______________________________________________________________________________

*** In the medieval-‘90s at a major programming conference this issue was raised: “Given we’re moving towards a more balanced gender representation in General Manager roles, in Marketing/Promotions roles, in News roles, etc. ... why are all Program Directors still men?”

One serious response was “but their (women’s) brains work different”.

My jaw hit the ground and started dragging right alongside that person’s knuckles.

Their response was appalling, even way back then when the French still did all their painting on cave walls. Yet, even though no-one is making statements like that out loud in 2012, it’s not like any real change has happened in two decades, either.

And “but we’ve got some chicks in Integration / Promotions / Sorting Out The Prize Cupboard” is not a valid long-term solution.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Note: the Irene Hulme mentioned above is Content Director of Nova Adelaide. Read more about Irene here. The Donna mentioned is Donna Puechmarin, Content Director of SAFM Adelaide, and her ACD is the brilliant Alexis Kuchel. Donna, Alexis: my sincere apologies for not mentioning you originally, I really do mean it.

However, Dave Cameron is a smart-arse for pointing out my error in not mentioning them. In public, no less. Thanks, Snapperhead.

Without the radio industry being patronising in any way, it should also make a bigger deal of that fact that half the FM Content Directors in Adelaide are women. And, against the expectations of many in The Old Boys Club, that the sky has not fallen on our heads - and the Martians have not invaded and demanded the surrender of all humankind, plus some pretty outrageous contractual clauses around doing public appearances and OBs.

P.S: any finger-counting idiot who accuses me of being a feminist is entirely missing the point. Being able to divide 24 commercial FM stations by 2 genders to get 12 is primary school maths, not feminism.

 

Scott Muller is Director of MBOS Consulting Group, a media management and consulting firm.

Click here to contact him.

Published on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:00



Wendy Harmer(10:12am 29 Feb 2012)
Thanks for this Scott and, yes, I should have mentioned the FM boys club too. It is something the industry should address...and fast. Radio is a great career for women. Working with Cath O'Connor at 2DAY was a positive experience ( less so at Vega... ahem). Deborah Thomas, Deb Spillane both commented on my piece and agreed.
As for the fab Amanda Blair - why, I'll be on her program this arvo!
Anonymous(10:25am 29 Feb 2012)
Programming has always been the domain of blokey blokes. Their shirt selections have evolved more over the years than attitudes - band t-shirt (80s), chambray (90s), business (2000s).

I am a guy, not a footy, roots and chicks type of guy...but still a guy. I remember being told by a senior exec in '05 when planning a conference that "I would be sharing X"....his female PA!!
Aagh, good times
keith fowler(10:27am 29 Feb 2012)
in the late 90's at MMM Perth we debuted a breakfast duo of Paula Voce and Daina Reid, with a token bloke (Kyle Sandilands).At the time a lot people asked "two women in breakfast,are you sure". Altho short lived sadly (ownership callsign and management change) it was a ratings success,and showed genuine long term promise.

Two smart articulate funny feisty women,hardly a risk!!
scott muller(10:36am 29 Feb 2012)
Thanks, Wendy, for your comment and your great article. Say Hi to Amanda from all the ex-chambray-wearing blokes.

And, Keith, I remember that show on 6MMM - funny, in retrospect, that Kyle was the "token bloke" anchor on an all female show. Now that's ironical.
Anonymous(10:45am 29 Feb 2012)
I'm a guy and even I think the treatment of woman at stations I have worked for was and is terrible.

A PD told me that females don't like listening to females, he also never really paid much attention to a woman's ideas but when the same idea was was said by a man, it was a great idea and implemented.

I think we are still a generation away from all of us being treated the same.
Anonymous(11:27am 29 Feb 2012)
Interesting that a lot of stations profess to be targeting women, yet their PD's are blokes and we all know blokes don't understand women!

BTW did you know I can't get "Bird Flu"? It's because I'm a bloke....
irenehulme(12:47pm 29 Feb 2012)
Hi Scotty
Jason Staveley(13:38pm 29 Feb 2012)
Hi Scotty


Get a room!
Dave Cameron(13:45pm 29 Feb 2012)
you'd be wise to re-check your Adelaide CD facts Scotland Asher.....!
Nice site guys.
Scott Muller(14:38pm 29 Feb 2012)
Hi David Old Yeller Cameron (since we're using middle names) - so ... who did I miss on the Adelaide CD facts front?
Dave Cameron(15:15pm 29 Feb 2012)
Donna Puechmarin - SAFM CD
Alexis Kuchel - SAFM ACD

Radelaide leading the charge on female programmers!
Scott Muller(15:41pm 29 Feb 2012)
Thanks Palooka,
I'll amend article to include Donna on the CD roll call. Think it's brilliant you have Alexis there as ACD, too - she's awesome. I take it the ACDs on the Triple M Network are ACDCs?
Amanda Blair(16:25pm 29 Feb 2012)
Hi all. Glad we are talking about this. I've been told not to talk about politics because "I'm a woman" asked if "you've got your period?" told that "my show is ok, but sometimes a bit girly" and it's been suggested on more than one occassion that I just keep my content light, bright and bouncy.

Perhaps one day this will change and we will see more women behind the microphone.Not because of their gender, but becuse they have valid things to say.

And Scott, "chambray wearing".....can't believe you fessed up to that. Now THAT is brave...
Scott Muller(17:35pm 29 Feb 2012)
Hi Amanda, I was hoping we'd hear from you, seeing as you're one of the stars of the topic.
I may be totally missing the point because of the same reason I can't ask for directions even at gun point, but what perplexes me when I hear comments like the ones you've described is ... can people actually substitute "have you got your period" for serious show feedback? Without a whole team from C.S.I-H.R descending upon them?

Then again, I'm sure I've given more than my fair share of totally inappropriate show feedback, too, so ... glass houses.

Your point "we will see more women behind the microphone, not because of their gender, but because they have valid things to say" is the core issue. It shouldn't be about gender. At all. But with the imbalance Wendy raised, unfortunately it still is. We need a lot more like you.
Stuart Endersby(19:11pm 29 Feb 2012)
Great to hear Amanda's point of view and well done for being so honest. I suggest, let Amanda run her own race and give her the opportunity to tackle the hard stuff the AM talkback audience are looking for. Engage the listener - is that not what we do! Yet alone creating recall and building TSL? You have got guts posting that comment Amanda. The stuff great AM talk hosts are made of. Demand the show you want and the results will come.
Richard Fox(4:37am 01 Mar 2012)
It always amazes me that even though Australia and the UK are close relatives, programmers and producers in Australian radio often won't adopt what clearly works in British radio.
Obviously there is a lot of topical content and subjects that won't translate, but regarding this subject in particular, there's absolutely no issue with female presenters on high profile news / talk (and AM) stations like BBC Five Live.... a multi Sony Radio Award winning station including station of the year.
In fact, between 6am - 7pm weekdays, 4 female presenters (with 2 presenting solo)... 3 male presenters (with 2 presenting with a female co-host). Wowzers!!!

I really don't understand why Australian radio doesn't have that same 'radical' approach to female presenters on talkback stations.
Scott Muller(11:04am 01 Mar 2012)
Thanks, Richard.
If we're staying on the topic of women's roles in radio, on- and off- the air: absolutely agree.
Although there are surprisingly significant differences in the two country's cultural and media histories - unfortunately, "close relatives" is a long-dead myth, I'm sorry to say - the broader point that the UK has more examples of women in the kinds of roles being discussed is spot on. Even in the UK it's far from balanced, yet it's certainly more so than the examples in Australia already given. And Five Live is a near perfect example.

Separate point: I believe there's a big piece planned on international and cultural influences on Australian radio, which will be addressing the myths and truths of how close, culturally and broadcast-media-wise, Australia is to Britain and the U.S.
(Whether we like to admit it or not - and we don't - the short summary is, for audiences under a certain age: very little in common with the former over the last 20-30 years; unfortunately quite a jolly lot in common with the latter).
Jerimiah Busniak(4:12am 02 Mar 2012)
Add Katrina Tibbits to the list... she was just made Group Content Director for regional WA. Awesome!
Scott Muller(11:51am 02 Mar 2012)
Great news - congratulations, Katrina
Bianca Dye(17:17pm 04 Mar 2012)
Omfg! Where do I start..... Scotty - Wendy I adore & admire u both... If only I could contribute without offending anyone! Lol
I think I'll come back later as anonymous...
Scott Muller(3:00am 05 Mar 2012)
Hi. Just checking: is that really you, Anonymous, pretending to be Bianca?
Paul Cook(18:46pm 31 Dec 2013)
Having worked with Amanda early in her radio career - I can vouch for the tough run she had. I have worked with many talented people and I rate Amanda as one of the best presenters I have worked with. To watch her go from being hated by an entire city to being universally adored in 18 months was quite an eye opener, and it was due to her hard work and the kind of stoic resistance to the status quo that see's lesser people fall by the wayside. That said, I think 15 years on it has definitely changed and many women are stepping in to the limelight as CD's, presenters and all points in-between. On the AM side of things, I think there is sill a huge conservative audience who just want to hear their opinions amplified without having to think too much, and if you have articulate intelligent person (and women are generally smarter) on-air with a balanced and well-thought out position your audience is going to have to change - and that equals a big risk for a programmer. Sooner or later that change is inevitable, in the meantime though the mortgage has to be paid. As a talk-radio PD you'll just keep your pseudo-conservatives and your sports guys for now.

 Post Anonymously 

   I am a real live breathing human person

SCA is looking for an Announcer / Promotions Assistant in Dubbo. Details

 

Power FM Bega has a vacancy for a Breakfast Anchor and Music Director. Details.

 
 
 

Grant Broadcasters has a vacancy for a Creative Writer based in Maroochydore. Details.

6PR has a vacancy for a Morning Producer. Details.

 

Triple M Brisbane is looking for an Announcer / Assistant Music Director.  Details

 

SCA has a vacancy for a Senior Digital Video Producer- Melbourne. Details.

 

Triple M Brisbane has a vacancy for an Executive Producer for The Grill Team. Details.

 

 

SCA are looking for a Breakfast Audio Producer for Hit 107 Adelaide. Details.

 

 

 

 

C91.3 FM Campbelltown has a vacancy for a Sales Executive. Details.

Nova 93.7 Perth has a vacancy for a Creative Writer. Details.

Star 104.5 Central Coast are looking for a Music Director / Announcer. Details.

 

Grant Broadcasters has a vacancy for an Imaging Producer in Geelong. Details.

106fivefm has a vacancy for a General Manager based on the Sunshine Coast. Details.

.

Rait FM Papua New Guinea has a vacancy for an Operations Manager / Program Director. Details.

ARN has a vacancy for a Creative Writer based in Sydney.  Details.

.

 Chilli 90.1 FM has a vacancy for a Breakfast Personality. Details.

 

 

Authentic Entertainment is looking to appoint a Senior National Project ManagerDetails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Sony Music has a vacancy for a Marketing Manager based in Sydney. Details

 
 
 
 

 Capital Radio Network is looking for a Production Manager / Announcer in Goulburn. Details.

LA FM and Chilli FM are looking for a Program Director. Details.

6PR has a vacancy for a Producer for Perth Tonight. Details.

Recent Comments

NOVA Entertainment has promoted Tamie Williams to the new position of National Head of Direct Sales.

 

2XL’s Andrew Page will make his Metro debut next month joining MRN 4BC Newsroom.

 

 

 
 

Garry Dean is new the Creative Director for Nova 93.7.

 

 
 

Marc McCreadie is the new Program Manager of Capital Radio Network’s 2CA Canberra.

 
 

Christian Argenti will host the new show, The Greatest Years in Music across 36 LocalWorks stations.

 

ARN has appointed Sue Carter as the new CD for Mix102.3 and Cruise 1323 in Adelaide

 
 

Sarah Tinsley is joining ARN as their National Legal and Business Affairs Director.

 
 

Ciaran Davis has been appointed the new CEO of APN, the parent company of ARN.

Tamie Williams to the new position of National Head of Direct Sales with Nova Entertainment.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Bianca Dye has left the i98 Breakfast show and “is off to pursue her bucket list and chase some new opportunities”.

 
 
 
 

Amy Moon has been appointed General Manager at Joy 94.


 

 

Most Read (Last 30 Days)

Adelaide Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Spirit Of Tasmania TT-Line Company Pty Ltd
4. Puratap Puratap Pty Ltd
5. Big W Woolworths Ltd

Brisbane Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Woolworths Woolworths Ltd
4. McDonald's Create Your Taste McDonald's Australia Ltd
5. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)

Central Coast Advertisers

1. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Ettalong Diggers Ettalong Beach War Memorial Club Ltd
4. Never Let A Mate Walk Home Drunk Campaign Pedestrian Council Of Australia Ltd
5. Gosford RSL Club Gosford RSL Club

Gold Coast Advertisers

1. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
4. ARB 4X4 Accessories ARB Corporation Ltd
5. Kool Kids Early Learning Centres Kool Kids Early Learning Centres

Melbourne Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Big W Woolworths Ltd
4. Chemist Warehouse Chemist Warehouse
5. Back To Work State Revenue Office Victoria (State Govt Of VIC)

Newcastle Advertisers

1. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Vodafone Vodafone Pty Ltd
4. Finance Ezi Finance Ezi Pty Ltd
5. Kubota Kubota Tractor Australia Pty Ltd

Perth Advertisers

1. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Radio, It's A Love Thing Campaign Commercial Radio Australia Ltd
3. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)
4. Clarkson, Hammond & May Live Subzero Events Ltd
5. Big W Woolworths Ltd

Sydney Advertisers

1. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Peter's Of Kensington Peter's Of Kensington
3. Bing Lee Bing Lee Electrics Pty Ltd
4. Big W Woolworths Ltd
5. Brydens Brydens

Wollongong Ratings

1 I98 23.8 (28.5) WIN
2 Wave FM 16.0 (17.3) GRANT
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2014
  • IRIS Research

Wellington Ratings

1 NewstalkZB 15.3 (10.5) TRN
2 The Breeze 13.7 (14.6) Mediaworks
3 ZM 11.3 (12.4) TRN
4 The Sound 7.5 (7.1) Mediaworks
5 The Rock 7.4 (8.3) Mediaworks
6 The Edge 6.6 (8.3) Mediaworks
7 Coast 5.7 (4.6) TRN
  • 10+ share, Survey 1/2014

Warrnambool Ratings

1 Coast FM 37.7 - Ace
2 3YB 21.7 - Ace
3 triple j 7.3 - ABC
4 ABC Local Radio 4.0 - ABC
5 ABC Radio Nat. 2.5 - ABC
6 Classic FM 1.5 - ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015
  • Xtra Research

Sydney Ratings

 

1 2GB 11.9 (12.6) MRN
2KIIS 1065 8.9(8.9) ARN
3 WSFM 8.5 (8.2) ARN
4ABC 7028.0(8.0)ABC
5smoothfm 95.3 7.6 (7.4) NE
5 Triple M 7.2 (5.8) SCA
5Nova 96.9 6.8(7.6)NE
7triple j6.5(6.0) ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2015

Perth Ratings

1 Mix 94.5 13.5 (13.9) SCA
2 triple j 12.0 (9.2) ABC
3 Nova 93.7 11.3 (11.1) NE
496FM10.9(11.3)ARN
5ABC7209.8(10.7)ABC
6 6PR 7.2(9.0)MRN
7hit 92.9 7.2(6.5) SCA
8 6IX 6.0 (4.9) CAP
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2015
  • 96FM now owned by ARN / 6PR owned by MRN

Newcastle Ratings

1 KOFM 1563 (15.3) SCA
2 ABC1233 13.6 (11.9) ABC
3NXFM 10.7(11.6) SCA
4 2HD 10.4 (9.8) BOG
5 Triple J 9.9 (9.9) ABC
6New FM8.5(10.0)BOG
7 Classic FM 4.0 (3.) ABC
  • 10+ Share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015

 

Melbourne Ratings

 

1 3AW 13.7 (15.4) MRN
2 ABC 774 11.5 (10.4) ABC
3 Triple M 7.9 (7.4) SCA
3 Gold 7.9 (6.8) ARN
4 smooth935 7.4 (6.9) NE
5 Fox FM 6.9 (6.9) SCA
6Nova 100 6.3(6.7)NE
7 KIIS 101.1 6.2 (6.1) ARN
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2015
  • Mix101.1 now KIIS 101.1 

Gold Coast Ratings

1 Hot Tomato 14.2 (14.1) HT
2 Gold FM 11.9 (14.3) SCA
3 Sea FM 9.6 (9.5) SCA
4 ABC 91.7FM 7.9 (6.7) ABC
5 triple j 7.8 (9.4) ABC
6 ABC612 5.2 (3.3) ABC
7 Radio National 2.5 (2.3) ABC
  • 10+ Share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2014

 

Christchurch Ratings

1 Newstalk ZB 17.0 (16.1) TRN
2 More FM 10.7 (11.8) Mediaworks
3 The Breeze 10.2 (8.8) Mediaworks
4 The Rock 9.0 (10.3) Mediaworks
5 The Edge 6.9 (6.5) Mediaworks
6 The Sound 6.0 (6.4) Mediaworks
7 Classic Hits 5.7 (5.7) TRN
  • 10+ share, Survey 1/2014

Canberra Ratings

  104.7 18.5 (17.0) SCA
  Mix 106.3 11.6 (15.1) SCA
  ABC666 15.3 (17.4) ABC
  triple j 8.5 (8.1) ABC
  Classic FM 9.3 (9.9) ABC
  2CA 7.0 (5.6) Captial
  2CC 6.0 (6.3) Capital
  Radio National 3.0 (4.0) ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015

 

Brisbane Ratings

197.3FM13,7(14.3)ARN
2Nova 106.9 12.3(11.6)NE
3ABC61210.8(10.7) ABC
4 4MMM 9.1 (7.6) SCA
5hit105.3 8.0(8.2) SCA
6 TRIPLE J 7.8 (8.9) ABC
74KQ 7.7(8.7) ARN
84BC 5.0(4.6) MRN
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2015
  • B105 now hit105.3

Auckland Ratings

1 Newstalk ZB 13.4 (13.0) TRN
2 Coast  9.6 (8.1) TRN
3 The Edge 7.8 (6.0) Mediaworks
4 The Breeze 7.0 (6.5) Mediaworks
5 Classic Hits 6.7 (5.9) TRN
6 ZM 5.9 (5.6) TRN
7 Mai FM 5.2 (4.3) TRN
  • 10+ share, Survey 1/2014

Adelaide Ratings

1 Mix 102.3 14.3 (13.6) ARN
2Nova 91.9 12.4 (12.0) NE
3ABC89112.3(12.3) ABC
4FIVEaa 12.0(11.1)NE
5 Cruise 8.8 (8.3) ARN
6triple j 8.7 (9.1) ABC
7Triple M 8.5(8.4)SCA
8hit1076.0(6.0) SCA
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 2/2015 (GfK)
  • hit107 on-air Oct 2014, was SAFM
CompanyStock IDPriceChange
Southern Cross Media
SXL
0.955
-3.05%
APN News & Media
APN
0.700
-0.71%
Fairfax Media
FXJ
0.805
-3.01%
Macquarie Radio
MRN
1.08
0.00%
Pacific Star Network
PNW
0.280
0.00%
Oceania Capital
OCP
1.25
0.00%
Ten Network
TEN
0.195
0.00%
Seven West Media
SWM
1.01
-1.46%
Nine Entertainment
NEC
1.50
-1.95%
Prime Media
PRT
0.665
-2.21%

Most Commented (All Time)