‘It’s been heartbreaking’: Jamie Angel on the demise of 2DayFM Breakfast’s ratings

Radio programming veteran and current anchor of Sydney’s 2DayFM Breakfast program has conceded that fronting the program as it battles with ratings around the 2.5% share mark has been “tough”, “challenging” and “a little bit heartbreaking”.

He also noted the industry’s transformation towards putting people first, rather than ratings, was a tough balance. It is, he said, absolutely necessary to prioritise people, “but [if] we want to be number one, we’ve actually, I think, got to be a little tougher on ourselves and probably a little bit more accountable with ourselves and our staff”.

Angel took the on-air role when the Hit Network’s 2DayFM decided to park talent and talk-driven Breakfast programs after cycling through multiple options – including Jules Lund, Sophie Monk, Merrick Watts, Mel B, Dan Debuf, Maz Compton, Rove McManus, Sam Frost, Em Rusciano, Harley Breen, Grant Denyer, Ed Kavalee and Ash London – since Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson defected to Australian Radio Network’s (ARN) KIIS FM.

Prior to his time in the beleaguered Sydney Breakfast slot, Angel had held various roles at 2DayFM’s parent company Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) including content director of Melbourne’s Fox FM, and 2DayFM and Triple M in Sydney.

The shift back in terms of role and responsibility has been a difficult one, he said.

“I absolutely miss programming,” he told Fox FM’s current content director, Amanda Lee, on the Fox Bosses podcast. “I was off air for 15, 20 years, so going back on air, I’ve got to admit, I really struggled for months, probably six months. And not just from a mindset point of view, even mechanical.

The most recent iteration of the 2DayFM Breakfast show before Angel took over – Grant Denyer, Ash London and Ed Kavalee 

“We talk about 10,000 hours. You get really great at something after 10,000 hours at doing it, and I think being away from it for so long, it almost took me another 10,000 hours just to know what button to hit. Where am I? What am I trying to achieve here? What did I used to talk about? One thought per break. Why aren’t I doing that? So it really took me a long time to get back into the swing of things.”

On top of his rustiness, Angel said he had to contend with the pressure he put on himself and his own fear of failure – “And have you seen the ratings?,” he laughed.

“Absolutely [I have] a fear of failure,” he said on the podcast celebrating Fox FM’s 40th birthday. “I’m competitive. I’ve worked for 30 years at what I consider to be one of the world’s great radio companies, great audio companies. And I want to win. And I want to be the best I possibly can. Having said that, it’s been tough. It’s been challenging. It’s been a little bit heartbreaking at times.”

Angel also conceded that after his decades of programming experience, it can be difficult to stay in his lane with 2DayFM’s current content director Mathew ‘Eggo’ Eggleston.

“It’s hard for me not to get frustrated when I hear things,” he admitted. “So I get ready to shoot off a note, and [then] I go ‘No, no, no. That’s not my role’. However, ‘Hey, did you know this is happening? It might be something you want to look at’. And then I have to kind of walk away from it…

“I’m sure it’s been tough for him [Eggleston] working with someone like me, who, I have my opinions, and I programmed for a long time, and I want my say, and I want what I want – but he’s been really generous and really, really great about that. But it has been an interesting transition to come back on air.”

Angel celebrates his birthday in 2015 with the Triple M team 

Angel also noted the shift in SCA’s culture in recent years – and indeed that of the wider radio industry – and the challenges this presents.

“You look at the way that SCA’s managed now from a content point of view, and God bless ‘em, and so they should, [they’re] real people people. They look after people. There’s a real focus on morale, on culture, as it should be,” he said, reflecting on days gone by when content directors would be “having stand-up arguments… literally face-to-face shouting at each other ‘Do you want to go outside?’,” he remembered.

“And there was a lot of pressure. There’s still pressure now, but there’s more of an understanding of how radio stations work – understand and accept how the way that ratings work and radio stations work and people work. There’s still that pressure to rate, and we all get that, but… you’ve got support from people who are overseeing and working with you on your radio station.”

This shift away from the ‘rate or die’ culture – which was also noted on the podcast by former Fox FM content director and current assistant head of the Hit Network Adrian Brine – does have its drawbacks though.

Angel’s reflections on radio’s ‘samurai sword’ days prompted Lee to ask if programmers have gone soft.

“I think we can be [too soft as programmers],” Angel said. “But I absolutely accept and agree with that we have to be a people company. But [if] we want to be number one, we’ve actually, I think, got to be a little tougher on ourselves and probably a little bit more accountable with ourselves and our staff.

“But I’m not saying, I’ll never say ‘Go back to the old days of air-checking with samurai swords and throwing things. I just think that, it’s the big time, and at the end of the day we’re a business, and we want to rate, we want to make money, and we want to be successful. And I think we could probably go a few steps closer to that. But people absolutely need to be our number one priority. So it’s a tough one.”

Despite the culture, content and ratings challenges, Angel said it’s important to remember what it’s all about.

“Also it’s been a lot of fun,” he told Lee of his time back behind the microphone. “It is what you make of it,” he added. “If you’re prepared to have fun with it, it’s so much bloody fun.”

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Darryl Durrant
20 Oct 2020 - 12:10 pm

Jamie Angel, well done. I don’t know you, but for the virtual bunch of old radio heads sitting around going “Why is radio so bad these days…” You have enlightened some dark corners and had empathy with the dream of SCA. Sure 6 breakfast teams in 6 years, is well, really bad. The words 12 months ago that SCA was “going back to simple music to realign our brand…” – I fell off my rocking chair while hooked up to my iPod, Spotify and MP3 player … Radio is entertainment and music. Radio is real and in the moment. Radio needs to lead and not follow. Invent new talent, and not B grade TV or reality show hacks. None of the management team should work in a vacuum, if they too are not bringing about commercial change, ratings and commercial success, sack them also.

AB
20 Oct 2020 - 12:44 pm

A true legend, always honest and always passionate

Jackie
20 Oct 2020 - 2:27 pm

What a legend. Such an honest, hand on heart, passionate conversation. One of the best. That is a true leader right there.

Craig
20 Oct 2020 - 6:44 pm

You should run smooth stars. That should really help

JA for CD
20 Oct 2020 - 8:01 pm

Should be running the place

Nic
20 Oct 2020 - 10:28 pm

Radio has changed a lot in the last 20years, but mostly because of other music platforms. Spotify, Apple Music to name a few have a big part to blame.
The need to use a radio to hear new , current and popular music is extinct. No longer do you hear a song and rush to the music store to buy an artists album, it’s now at your fingertips.
Podcasts are another reason good radio fails.
They fact is , people are spoilt for choice and this means radio doesn’t appeal to as wide of an audience.
2DayFM in the am is great, kid safe and much better than some of its competitors.
Yes they went through a lot of b grate hosts, but they did lose a few quality ones along the way. Em and Harley were a great team, and although ash London is great she is so much more valuable as an evening presenter.
Don’t give up fighting, 2DayFM was one of the first and is still needed by its audience

The Wolf
21 Oct 2020 - 8:46 am

Thats the Problem not enough Genuine down to earth Talent….if you made a list up of all the Knobs you would”nt want to be in a room with take note of Ex Breakfast Hosts.

Roger
21 Oct 2020 - 9:16 am

“Jules Lund, Sophie Monk, Merrick Watts, Mel B, Dan Debuf, Maz Compton, Rove McManus, Sam Frost, Em Rusciano, Harley Breen, Grant Denyer, Ed Kavalee and Ash London”

Maybe actors , comedians, ex reality starts and tv hosts wasnt the way to go….?

YouTuber
21 Oct 2020 - 9:54 am

There’s a few ex hit network employees (who now each have millions of fans online) who said similar things to Jamie about accountability and wanting to suceed.

The now former employees wanted to build fan bases for their shows and create unique content that spread far and wide but that wasn’t part of the culture. The culture was all about “fitting in the with the culture”.

Setting goals and attempting to build a fanbase was seen as a no no cause if they didn’t achieve those goals it could hurt morale. (I couldn’t believe this when I heard it).

No one wants screaming airchecks and of course there is balance. But considering the year on year decline of the Hit Network for the last 5 years … maybe Jamie has a point?

Written Warning
21 Oct 2020 - 9:56 am

Careful Jamie.
Raising concerns about potential culture problems is NOT part of the culture.

Wolf Files
21 Oct 2020 - 10:41 am

The truth is, its hard to know what from “the old” still works and what it is about “the new” that radio should get a foot hold in. Either way, this guy for my money is always a great listen when there are songs and callers, guests and prizes. He ties that style of radio better than anyone and he’s dry wit is just my style – so I am a fan. When you look at the successful content on podcasts and audio streams now, it’s knowing that often, the nuts that have fallen off the bolts and are laying on the ground are actually what people like, so in a way sending a class note to a kid PD could be wasteful energy. I think it’s going to need a very big and bold scary and new approach, 2day is the perfect station to do it – But I am worried it won’t get past the old heads and public shareholders… and it’ll need to be more than. X has a million followers on another platform we don’t understand somewhere else, let’s squeeze it into Y – It will need to be an actual fresh Idea. Do they have any?

J Print
21 Oct 2020 - 11:54 am

Any creative company is always mixed, many of the really gifted people didn’t fit the culture because it was too conservative others lasted decades because they were the embodiment of it. Some of the most successful stations ever created did it on shoe string budget, harnessing raw communicators (not celebrities) to build the brand. If audio has any future it probably needs to get back to that and move away from high cost corporate structure with a cast of thousands. It will probably sound distinctively better .

Rob Sutton
21 Oct 2020 - 5:51 pm

Look at all those breakfast shows that were an absolute disaster.

Who would have thought that three hours of Trump bashing every morning would fail?

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