Trouble in Paradise: 3MTR Abandons Talk Format in Melbourne

| March 12, 2012

By Trevor Smith
Australia Bureau Chief

“I wish we were here for longer but we’re not…thank you for listening, and maybe we will meet some other day down the line,”  were the final words uttered by Luke Grant on 3MTR at 5:00 pm Friday, March.  Then the station closed down.  The AM 1377 frequency is now simulcasting the MyMP Digital Radio easy memories music program – with no paid commercials, no announcers and no news – presumably as an interim solution until the joint venture partners decide what to do with the failed Melbourne talk station.  Administrators have been appointed to the MTR business joint venture.

“Okay, I’m really sorry, I thought that I was still doing one last bulletin…Okay, no worries at all.  I’m so sorry.  I know you guys have worked your butts off, and no matter, whatever the ratings were, one way or the other doesn’t change the way you do your day…I’m really sorry.  No worries, bye-bye,” were Amie Meehan‘s final words from the Sydney newsroom.

Then there was some switching, and the SEN sport station feed went to air for a while, then it was switched back to MyMP.

No one at the station was answering phones but Pacific Star and Macquarie Radio Network both issued statements to the stock market late in the day saying the directors of the JV Company Melbourne Radio Operations Pty Ltd “have today appointed administrators.”  Pacific Star has placed its shares in a trading halt.

Staff at MTR were left in the dark about the move, with people on rostered weekend shifts having to call in to find out what was happening once they heard the switch-off.  Sources say that, as late as Thursday, the staff was being told it was “business as usual.”

The broadcast regulator, which has been following the station’s evolving difficulties in recent weeks, is taking an interest in the latest development. Spokesperson Emma Rossi said the ACMA will be “reviewing the situation” once more details about the closure are known.

The station has been in financial difficulties for months, and March 2 marked the end of a brave experiment to challenge Ratings juggernaut 3AW in the Melbourne commercial talk market, that in the end did not succeed.

In other news

Australian specialist broadcast training company AMT Pty Ltd has played a crucial role in the launch of Afghanistan’s first professional media training institution, Nai Media Institute (NMI). “As the troops pull out of Afghanistan, media will play an important role in the reconstruction of the country.  To win people’s hearts and minds, you have to win their radios, televisions and mobile phones,” said AMT managing director Steve Ahern who has just returned from Afghanistan.  Ahern spent December and January in Kabul where he put in place the management and academic systems needed to begin the new institute, AMT was commissioned to develop the two year Diploma in Media curriculum, covering radio, television and new media.  The integrated course combines expert tuition and theory with practical training using NMI’s radio station, television facilities and professional location equipment.  As well as developing the curriculum, AMT trained the lecturers who will deliver the course and built internal management systems within NMI to comply with educational and government requirements.

“NMI needed a turnkey solution so they could ensure academic compliance, and get the course started, ready for the first intake of students in March this year. Because of AMT’s experience with similar projects in India and South Africa, we were able to provide that solution,” said Ahern, a former senior executive at the Australian Film Television and Radio School.  In 2009, Steve Ahern was awarded an Order of Australia Media for his services to media education in Australia and internationally.  He previously worked for the ABC and the British Consulate-General in a media career spanning over 30 years.

Trevor Smith is a legendary Australian radio broadcaster who has recently assumed the role of Australia editor/bureau chief of TALKERS.  He is president of Aloha Media, producers of documentary content for radio and television broadcast all across Australia.  He can be e-mailed at alohamedia@iinet.net.au.

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Category: International