Dan Bourchier will leave ABC Radio’s ailing Breakfast program in a major shakeup of personnel for the local broadcaster in 2020.
The move comes amid a ratings crash for the once-popular program and is an acknowledgement that the experiment of Bourchier driving Breakfast and reading the evening television news has been a failure.
Occasional presenter Lish Fejer will replace Bourchier in the 5.30 to 9.00 am weekday slot, with his on-air partner from 8.30 am Adam Shirley continuing in the Mornings role.
Bourchier approached ABC management several months ago about a making a change, and cited family commitments in the statement announcing he was leaving the early morning role.
He will continue to present the 7pm TV news bulletin from Sunday to Thursday, with Craig Allen presenting on Friday and Saturday.
“I’m not going far and will have plenty more to say in the weeks ahead about what I’ll be up to in 2020 based here in Canberra – telling our local and national stories as well,” he said.
The ABC will be hoping Fejer can turn the Breakfast ratings around with a fresh approach, but it will be a huge challenge to pull listeners back after their desertion in recent years.
ABC Breakfast enjoyed an unbroken reign for more than a decade on top of the ratings under Ross Solly and Philip Clarke, but has lost that mantle to Mix 106.3 FM in recent years.
The ABC could only muster 15.4 in the latest survey, up slightly on the previous one but well behind Mix on 18.3. Only four years ago ABC Breakfast was well on top with a 22.9 point market share.
Bourchier is the first presenter to have lost that No.1 spot, while the ABC has dropped to fourth in the ratings behind Triple J.
There was a general breakfast shake-up two years ago across the country, and the latest move signals the change in direction away from major news coverage in the breakfast slot will continue.
Fejer has lived in Canberra on and off since the early 1990s and believes the ABC Radio Canberra audience is switched on, generous, connected and considered.
“They are also funny and I’m keen to dive into that hive mind and have some fun,” she said.
“It’s a unique timeslot; some listeners are coming home from a night shift, others walking the dog, stealing a few hours before the day starts or madly rushing about getting the family logistics in line. I’m looking forward to being part of those morning routines and sharing news and stories from around our region.”
With Myf Warhurst announcing last week that she will not be returning to host her national music and culture show, Paula Kruger will host an hour longer Afternoons from 12.30 to 3.30 pm, followed by Anna Vidot who will be back to present the Drive program, from 3.30 to 6.30 pm, an extra half hour.
After more than 10 years on air, Greg Bayliss will step away from Saturday Breakfast, which will be presented in 2020 by Adrienne Francis, who has worked as a radio, television and digital journalist for ABC Canberra since 2010.
“After more than a decade, it will be nice to be a participant in the myriad activities that happen on Saturday mornings across the ACT and in surrounding towns and communities,” Bayliss said.
Saturday Breakfast with Adrienne Francis will include the popular gardening talkback segment with Willo from 8.30 am each Saturday, followed by local Grandstand with Hannah Walmsley.
ANU academic and author Kim Huynh will present Sunday Brunch, having spent the past few years presenting and reporting for ABC Radio Canberra.
ABC Radio presenter Sarah Macdonald will host Evenings across NSW and the ACT, taking over from Chris Bath who has decided to spend more time with her family, after three years as host.
ABC Canberra Editor Michelle Ainsworth said the breadth of the team’s combined experience and backgrounds would make for compelling listening for local audiences throughout the day and week.
“Extended time slots for Afternoons and Drive mean that we’ll be broadcasting local for longer each week day, allowing the station to provide audiences with more local updates, stories, traffic and news throughout the afternoon and end of day commute,” she said.