This post was first published on news.com.au on 17 March 2018. See the original here.
Jo Stanley and Lehmo’s GOLD FM radio show had just been named the highest rated FM breakfast show in Melbourne when they were told their services were no longer required.
On November 14 last year Jo Stanley and Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann’s GOLD FM radio show became the number one rated FM breakfast show in Melbourne. But a week later the duo were told their services would not be required in 2018.
To many, including the hosts and many of their listeners, the decision by ARN (the company that owns Gold FM) came as a complete shock.
Melbourne is one of the most competitive radio markets in Australia and Jo and Lehmo had just, for the first time ever, beaten their rivals which included the Fox FM breakfast show starring Fifi Box and Nova’s breakfast show featuring Chrissie Swan and Sam Pang.
It’s now four months later and as Jo Stanley told Craig Bruce in the Game Changers: Radio podcast, she still has no idea why she and Lehmo were let go at the height of their success.
“I have had so many people ask me that ... and I have no answer,” Stanley said.
“I honestly can’t say. I don’t know what happened.”
The man who made the controversial decision is Duncan Campbell who is the National Content Director of ARN. Stanley claimed she had reached out to her former boss for a “please explain” but said she hadn’t yet heard back.
“Duncan Campbell has not given me any opportunity to speak with him,” she said in the podcast.
“Maybe this is a tactic ... maybe people who sack people would rather not talk to you. I’m not going to be nasty to him, I’d just like to hear from him what was he thinking but he’s not given me the opportunity to have the conversation.
“I’m deeply saddened that Lehmo and I aren’t doing a show together anymore because I think we were amazing and hadn’t yet hit our potential,” Stanley said. “And I’m deeply saddened not to be talking to that audience anymore.”
A week after Lehmo was told he wouldn’t be returning to GOLD FM in 2018, he told Fairfax Media, “everyone gets fired in radio ... you just don’t expect it to happen when you’re on top, when you’ve just had your best result in 11 years on the network”.
He later jokingly told the Herald Sun, “we were number one and then we got sacked. We were idiots. We should never have gone to number one”.
So why exactly were they sacked?
News.com.au contacted Mr Campbell who said it “really should have been no surprise” to both Stanley and Lehmo that they weren’t re-signed.
“We made the decision based on the key fact the breakfast show had never equalled the station share or achieved greater than the station share,” he said.
FYI — The radio ratings are released in Australia eight times per year. They reveal the audience share percentage for both individual shows, such as breakfast shows or afternoon drive shows, and for stations overall, such as the whole of GOLD FM or the whole of Nova.
According to Mr Campbell, it’s a common radio rule that a breakfast radio show has to be at least rating the same as or higher than the station overall.
“If you have a strong breakfast show that is equal to or greater than the station share then you have a great chance of being consistently number one,” he said.
“Jo and Lehmo, they performed OK but they were 1.5 to 2 points behind the station average and we could never really break through that.
“We started to express concerns about re-signing them back in August. I spoke to both Jo and Lehmo twice ... I wasn’t direct in that we are thinking of not re-signing ... but I said I’m struggling with certain areas around if the show can break through.
“That really should have been no surprise.”
But many industry insiders were surprised that a show that had just gone number one was shown the door.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the achievement but it was the only number one result they’d had,” Mr Campbell told news.com.au.
“We do look for trends in this business. There was no consistency there.”
Mr Campbell said he broke the news to Jo and Lehmo’s managers that they wouldn’t be re-signed for the following year which he claimed is standard practice. He also claimed he had no idea Stanley was keen to chat to him personally about the decision.
“I was aware that Lehmo wanted to talk to me after the result and I did speak to him,” Mr Campbell said. “But I wasn’t aware that Jo wanted to.
“I’m more than happy to have a conversation with her about that. I think it’s probably appropriate that I do, now that I’ve heard the podcast, and I will reach out to her.”
Last month ARN announced they had hired one of the most awarded radio presenters from the UK to fill the void left by Jo and Lehmo on GOLD FM.
Christian O’Connell, who is the youngest ever inductee into the UK’s Radio Academy Hall of Fame, will kick off his breakfast show on GOLD 104.3 on June 4.