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DJ Mikey Havoc is returning as host of 95bFM's breakfast show - a move that has sparked debate about the direction of the station.
But its board chairman claims Havoc's reappointment marks a revamp for an Auckland media institution that has become "fat, old and tired".
Chris Hocquard confirmed yesterday that Havoc would take over his old job from current host Wallace Chapman on September 4.
Havoc hosted the breakfast show from 1996-2002. He had no comment yesterday.
Chapman said he quit after hearing that he might lose his job. "I heard there were going to be changes. I was not given a reason so I pre-empted it. It's hard, it's tricky. It blows me away if I think too hard about it."
Mr Hocquard said the decision was part of a wider plan to reinvigorate the station.
"People have forgotten it's a student radio station. It's broadcasting to 40-45-year-olds. Wallace is an older person's broadcaster. We need a big noisy mess [Havoc] on breakfast for a while."
bFM had tried nurturing young breakfast hosts such as Chapman's predecessor, Camilla Martin, but it had not worked.
"People hated it. It nearly killed her but what we learned from that is that you can't just throw someone young and inexperienced in there without a hell of a lot of support."
TV viewers will know the 36-year-old Havoc from his TV2 show with Jeremy Wells, Havoc and Newsboy's Sell-out Tour, the less popular Havoc Presents Quality Time on TV3, the TV2 reality show So You Wanna Be a Popstar, and as host of Prime game show Out of the Question.
Rumours of Havoc's shift from his afternoon drive-time slot to breakfast were met with alarm in the blogosphere.
On the website Public Address, former bFM staffer Damian Christie accused the station of being "shortsighted" and "unimaginative". Radio industry commentator Andrew Dubber called the move "alarming and deeply disappointing" on The Wireless, and said it highlighted a lack of talent.
The net backlash against Havoc criticised his playlist, complained he was often late and said he had had his time in the spotlight.
But former bFM breakfast host Graeme Hill commended the move. "Mikey's a good host. It's not such a nutty idea. Maybe there's no one ready to come through."
New programme director Katie Fisher said bFM planned to groom new talent in the next six months, and alternate hosts in the drive slot during the week. She wanted to create an apprenticeship-style environment and to bring the focus away from breakfast, long regarded as the key show.
The station had lost listeners to alternative stations such as George FM. bFM and George account for less than 3 per cent of radio listeners in Auckland but competition within that bracket is fierce.
Nielsen Media Research shows that in 2001, an average of 67,000 people listened to bFM while less than 10,000 tuned into George. But by last year the two stations were neck and neck with an average of 49,000 Auckland listeners. In the all-important hours of 6am-9am, George was ahead with 23,000 listeners to bFM's 17,000. George was also in front in the drive-time slot of 4-7pm, with 23,000 listeners to bFM's 19,000.
"There's been a bit of a sea change in the music," said Damian Christie.
"[bFM] used to be the only place that played dance music or bands like the White Stripes. Now the mainstream channels are heading that way."