New Zealand news talk station Today FM is making headlines across the Tasman today, instead of just reading them.
Morning hosts of the Mediaworks station were speculating about the future of their station following the resignation of the company’s CEO Cam Wallace and its news and talk director, Dallas Gurney.
Tova O’Brien, Duncan Garner and Carly Flynn had gathered together in the studio as tension over the station’s future appeared to be reaching breaking point.
As they spoke to listeners about their support and determination to keep the station going, they were told via a text from their CEO to come off air.
“They’ve f**ked us, we are all going to lose our jobs,” O’Brien told the station’s audience.
“We’ve been instructed to play music.”
“We’ve been pulled off-air right now,” Garner said.
“Without even being given a chance. We’ve been on-air for just a year, we were told we had the support of everyone from the chief executive to the board to the executive,” O’Brien added.
“This is betrayal,” Garner said.
Across town, a Today FM reporter was at a press conference with the Prime Minister, it’s reported they packed up their microphone and left after hearing the news.
While Today FM had only been on air for a year, it was the latest in a string of talkback brands operated by Mediaworks in an attempt to compete with industry leader, Newstalk ZB.
What began as Radio Pacific in the early 90s, became Radio Live, then Magic Talk and finally Today FM.
Its launch came with much fanfare as the station seemingly opened up the cheque book to sign some of the biggest names in New Zealand broadcasting.
Tova O’Brien was poached from her position as political editor at Newshub to host the station’s breakfast show. Duncan Garner had just finished a decades long run on television and was slotted in to do the morning show.
Mark Richardson, Carly Flynn and Lloyd Burr were also signed on to the station.
While staff had been given an assurance the station’s goal of talking on Newstalk ZB was a marathon not a sprint, after a year of stagnant ratings, rumours of the station’s future intensified following the departure of the MediaWorks CEO and its news boss. Two of the station’s biggest supporters.
MediaWorks owns more than half of the biggest radio stations in New Zealand, and has dominated the music market for some time.
Some in the industry had been calling for the company to cut its losses with Today FM, rumoured to be more than NZ$10 million, and focus on consolidating its position as the music market leader.
MediaWorks is yet to issue a statement about today’s events.