By Dorothy Thompson
In an urgent move to protect their bottom-line revenue, Nine Entertainment Co (Harbour Radio Pty Ltd) 2GB has put into lock-down their two largest revenue earners. Alan Jones and Ray Hadley, both have been put into quarantine over fears that they may contract the COVID-19 virus and be unable to work as a result.
They are the first network to take such dramatic action. It is however understandable as both Headley and Jones are by far the oldest radio presenters currently on the air daily.
Jones, who has not enjoyed the best of good health over the past few years, and Hadley will broadcast from private studios set up at their rural properties in Fitzroy Falls and Dural to ensure they don’t come into contact with any production and administration staff at 2GB’s Pyrmont studios who may have contracted COVID-19.
Without question they are the stations most valuable earners and therefore vital assets to the business. Whilst 2GB is leading the ratings overall, its revenue stream has been affected by certain events and comments made over the past twelve months. Some advertisers have taken exception to comments Jones has made on his programme and withdrawn from their advertising schedule with his program.
At 78, Jones — and given his health issues — could be considered in a higher risk infection category than his radio stablemates, hence the management decision to effectively quarantine him.
There is a question mark as to whether Jones will travel back to Sydney mid-week to front his Sky News programme. But given his self-isolation it would be more likely a camera crew will be dispatched to the Southern Highlands for that commitment.
Meanwhile 2GB’s drive host Ben Fordham, will broadcast his programme from Melbourne’s 3AW studios from Monday.
Fordham is already in Melbourne to host the latest series of Australian Ninja Warrior, which goes back into production for Nine, this week — although possibly without a live studio audience.
Nights presenter John Stanley will also broadcast his radio show from a home-based studio — leaving only afternoon’s host, Deb Knight, to present from 2GB’s Pyrmont HQ.