ABC unveils major Sydney radio shake-up


Broadcaster Wendy Harmer is being moved to the breakfast timeslot as part of a major shake-up to ABC Radio.

From 2018, the former mornings presenter will have to wind back her alarm clock in order to sit opposite current breakfast host Robbie Buck as part of a new-look program that wraps up at 10am.

A new mid-morning show hosted by Cassie McCullagh will squeeze into Harmer's former timeslot. The ABC says new show Focus, from 10am to 11am, will showcase the broadcaster's specialist reporters as well as the knowledge of industry experts.

Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski will share the microphone for Conversations, from 11am to midday, followed later in the day by a new music show hosted by Myf Warhurst. There is no change to Sydney's drive show, however it has a new timeslot of 4 to 6.30pm.

The public broadcaster has also confirmed PM and The World Today's run time will be slashed in half, as Fairfax Media flagged last month. In an email to staff, director of news Gaven Morris stressed this change was driven by audience research and there will be no job cuts as a result.

Walkley award-winning broadcaster Linda Mottram has been announced as the permanent host of PM, after veteran journalist Mark Colvin died earlier this year at the age of 65.

Patricia Karvelas, who currently hosts RN Drive, is leaving her Sky News program to extend her ABC duties. She will host a new TV show dissecting the week's events, set to air on ABC News on Sundays at 9pm.

In Melbourne, colourful radio and TV personality Red Symons is being replaced by comedian Sami Shah and broadcaster Jacinta Parsons. The former Hey, Hey It's Saturday star revealed last week that he had been sacked from the coveted breakfast slot and subsequently decided to leave the ABC altogether.

Earlier this year, Symons came under fire for asking a Radio National broadcaster if she was "yellow" and asking, "What's the deal with Asians?"

The ABC's head of radio Michael Mason said in a statement the 2018 lineup was about strengthening the broadcaster's breakfast shows and responding to audience feedback.

"The changes to these programs allow us to free up resources to develop more in-depth and investigative journalism for use across all our broadcast platforms," he said. "There will be more local current affairs from ABC News teams in our local radio drive programs and additional resources will also be put into more timely news and current affairs podcasts."

This story ABC unveils major Sydney radio shake-up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.