SCOOP: Hit Network music head Irene Hulme exits SCA amid layoffs
Seasoned programmer Irene Hulme has left Southern Cross Austereo, Radio Today can reveal.
Hulme was responsible for music across the SCA-owned Hit Network and is thought to be the most senior departure as the company cuts up to 90 jobs this week.
An SCA spokesperson confirmed her departure with Radio Today on Wednesday (December 4).
Touted by many in the radio biz as a “true stalwart”, she has a long history in programming, talent and music. She is also widely respected among music industry circles.
Hulme has previously held senior content roles at Australian Radio Network and NOVA Entertainment.
She was promoted to a new position within SCA in November last year, assuming the role of head of music for Hit & Triple M networks.
Four months later, her role was reduced to Hit’s 42 metro, regional and DAB+ stations after Mickey Maher moved from regional content boss to oversee music on the Triple M Network.
Radio Today understands that Maher will remain with SCA and is tasked with overseeing music across both the Hit and Triple M networks following Hulme’s shock departure.
SCA’s new head of music, Mickey Maher
While talking to Radio Today at the 2019 Radio Alive Conference, SCA chief executive Blackley said that music represents about 60% or more of the schedule.
To better serve listeners, his solution was to “appoint a head of music for both the Hit and Triple M networks, in Irene Hulme and Mickey Maher”.
But declining metro radio revenue has forced the business to make drastic changes to survive.
After news broke of the redundancies, the company’s shares dropped 3.68% overnight. However, many analysts expect the market to react favourably to the cost savings in quarters to come.
Rumours are also circulating as to the future of its top programmers – Hit’s Gemma Fordham and Triple M’s Mike Fitzpatrick. Radio Today is told they are remaining with SCA.
Multiple sources have also told Radio Today that an announcement on the appointment of a new chief programming officer is imminent. Many are speculating, with some certainty, that now-former NZME executive Dean Buchanan has landed the role.
Other confirmed casualties of the restructure include Triple M Australia By Night host, Stephen Cenatiempo, and SCA Fraser Coast content director, Lee Bevington.
One departing staffer told Radio Today on Tuesday that the company had “lost its soul”, a sentiment shared by multiple past and present employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity.