Broadcaster Dee Dee Dunleavy has expressed her disappointment on social media at being dropped by talk radio station 3AW, with her departure taking effect immediately.
“I was having the time of my life in my job. I’m devastated that it has come to an end,” Dunleavy wrote on Twitter. “I am extremely happy to be leaving with ratings that I am proud of.
“I will miss my team and my dedicated audience. I have always been grateful that they have shared their lives with me.”
In a statement, 3AW said it had “agreed to an early conclusion” for the Afternoons presenter’s role, after informing her that her contract would not be renewed next year.
Dunleavy, whose real name is Diane, has hosted the afternoons show on the station since January 2020, moving from the weekend slot she had shared with long-time broadcasting partner Peter Stubbs (aka Grubby) as the replacement for Dennis Walter.
The move was seen at the time as part of the station’s effort to draft more female presenters, and coincided with a move in Sydney to bring Deborah Knight into the same slot on Sydney sister station 2GB.
Both 3AW and 2GB are owned by Nine, as is this masthead.
3AW station manager Stephen Beers said: “I want to thank Dee Dee for her three and a half years on Afternoons, and before that her stint on Weekend Break with Grubby. She’s been a great part of the 3AW line-up.”
Station management had informed Dunleavy, 60, that her contract would not be renewed next year. The broadcaster and management have now agreed that her work with the station will come to an immediate end.
Elise Elliott, wife of 3AW’s Drive presenter Tom Elliott, will fill in for Dunleavy this week, with a permanent replacement to be announced “in due course”.
In a statement issued via 3AW, Dunleavy said: “I’m happy to leave on a high, and with a record that I feel very proud of.
“I took over the Afternoons program just as the pandemic plunged us into lockdown, and so I faced the dual challenge of navigating a new show – remotely – while keeping the audience informed and entertained.
“I am forever grateful to all the callers who shared with me on air their grief at losing loved ones, and their anguish at losing their jobs and businesses. For those who were isolated, I hope I was part of the comfort and connection that radio brought to them during that time.
“Every day, I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing diverse opinions and discussing the stories that matter to Melbourne. I am grateful to 3AW for giving me the opportunity to grow my skills as a talkback presenter for the last 11 years.”
In the most recent radio ratings, survey 2, Dunleavy’s slot enjoyed a slight increase in terms of both audience share and listeners. With a 12 per cent share (up from 11.6) of the noon to 4pm slot, it was the second-most-listened to program at that time, behind only Toni Tenaglia on FM station Gold (13.9 per cent).
Dunleavy’s audience averaged 81,000 listeners, up from 79,000 in the first survey of the year. (It should be noted that the timeslots into which the survey is divided do not always correlate with specific programs; both 3AW and Gold’s afternoon shows in fact run noon to 3pm.)
While those results were strong, the pattern since Dunleavy slotted into afternoons is slightly more complicated.
In the second survey of 2020, Dunleavy’s first year in afternoons, she pulled an average audience of 85,000, for a share of 11.7 per cent.
At the time, radio listening was enjoying a COVID-fuelled spike, with the audience across all monitored stations in afternoons averaging 724,000 listeners.
A year later, her average audience had increased to 93,000, and a 13.3 per cent share. In survey 2 last year, it was 89,000, for a 13.2 per cent share of a total average audience of 676,000.
Now, with the total afternoons audience remaining pretty much constant (average of 673,000), Dunleavy’s 12 per cent share equates to 81,000 listeners.
Despite the movement, the audience for Dunleavy’s show remains strong, more than double the average for ABC Melbourne’s talkback show hosted by Jacinta Parsons (34,000 listeners, and a 5 per cent share, on average).
Station management may, however, be more concerned with what is happening on its own frequency.
While the average listening audience dropped from 744,000 to 673,000 from the morning slot (9am to midday) to afternoons, 3AW’s average audience dropped from 143,000 tuning in to Neil Mitchell’s program to 81,000 for Dunleavy.
The audience in breakfast (5.30am to 9am) is even stronger, with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft averaging 159,000 listeners and a 21.1 per cent share in the most recent survey.
Whoever is parachuted into the slot, they will undoubtedly be tasked with trying to hold on to a decent chunk of the breakfast and morning listeners in order to bolster the station’s dominance in the Melbourne market even more.
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