Voices on the move in cut-throat radio competition

By Kathryn Powley

Sean Plunket. Photo / NZPA
Sean Plunket. Photo / NZPA

Familiar voices are switching stations in a shake-up of commercial radio, but the latest figures reveal networks are having a tough job trying to pull listeners.

Broadcasting veteran Sean Plunket has confirmed he is leaving Newstalk ZB's Wellington morning show at the end of the year. Sources say he is going to rival network RadioLIVE where he may take up Michael Laws' nine-to-noon slot.

Laws did not return our calls, and RadioLIVE owner MediaWorks wouldn't comment.

But Plunket told the Herald on Sunday he has a new job. "I've got an opportunity which I've taken and I'm looking forward to."

If Plunket moves into Laws' seat, it will put him head-to-head with his former employer's nine-to-noon host, Kathryn Ryan, in a job he missed out on. Asked if he'd give her a run for her money, he said: "You might think that but I couldn't possibly comment right now".

Laws has hosted the RadioLIVE show since it launched in 2005. The Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled on 12 complaints against him, upholding five. In the same period there were two complaints against Plunket, neither upheld, and only one against Ryan which was upheld.

But whether Plunket, and new drive host Duncan Garner who starts on December 1, can help boost RadioLIVE figures remains to be seen. Overall, The Edge has the most listeners with 456,200, followed by Newstalk ZB on 392,900.

MediaWorks is pleased with the figures, released on Friday by Research International, saying the company had a 45.7 per cent share of the national audience compared to The Radio Network's 43.3 per cent share.

In the highly competitive breakfast market, TRN's Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking reigns supreme with an audience of 280,200 aged 10 and over, leaving RadioLIVE's Marcus Lush below 100,000.

MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said Lush's show was secure as it was up 7.5 per cent on the last survey.

RadioLIVE's former breakfast sports announcer Martin Devlin will start a new gig at Radio Hauraki before Christmas as that station's breakfast host. The station has already lured Mikey Havoc to host the 7pm-midnight show.

Nationally, for listeners aged 10 and over, Hauraki took a big hit in the latest survey, dropping 48 per cent from 194,800 in April to 146,700.

- Herald on Sunday

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