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Search for Craig Hutchison and Todd Woodbridge radiorumours

Being sacked by 3AW is the best thing that's happened to Craig Hutchison's radio career.Part of a mass dismissal that followed 3AW football's ratings freefall last year, Hutchison has gone on to produce and star in his own footy show.

From Saturday, Hutchison joins ex-Cat and Fox Sports commentator Liam Pickering as the new match day warm-up act for SEN.

But the high-profile Channel Nine reporter is coming down a peg or two by switching from 3AW to SEN — the least popular commercial broadcaster in Melbourne.

Starved of footy over summer, with cricket fans tuning to 774 ABC Melbourne for live coverage, SEN endured a dismal start to the ratings year (luring just 2.6% of Melbourne listeners). This means SEN draws fewer listeners than its grey-army sister station 3MP, staying only marginally ahead of the ABC's low-rating Radio National, Classic FM and News Radio.

Pinning hopes on an AFL-led ratings recovery, SEN has signed Channel Nine's headline machine Eddie McGuire to call a dozen matches this season. The Collingwood president spoke of his desire to call for SEN in Radio Waves last Thursday, confirming the deal the next day. SEN has also hired Western Bulldogs foot-in-mouth specialist Jason Akermanis as a guest commentator, which is sure to attract more headlines. There is also a new mouth at 3AW in Seven's evergreen Dennis Cometti. He will join Rex Hunt in calling Saturday afternoon matches, continuing his TV calls on Friday nights and Sundays.

The station has also lined up former Collingwood captain Nathan Buckley for special comments.

By contrast, Triple M and 774 are sticking to the formulas that saw each shove past 3AW last season.

Management at 3AW (which is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this newspaper) is still smarting from last year's mid-season ratings slump, in which its footy coverage dropped from first to third. The knee-jerk sacking of high-profile 3AW names showed how worried management was by the slump.

As one of 3AW's culled presenters, Hutchison would have been within his rights to sulk. Instead, he saw a gap in the tight AFL radio market.

When Hutchison was sacked, 3AW also dumped a pre-match show by Trevor Marmalade and John "Dr Turf" Rothfield, which was piped into regional Victoria through the ACE radio network. This left two hours of regional radio airtime to fill, and Hutchison wasted no time filling it, hiring a private recording studio to make the show with Pickering.

Now SEN has jumped on board, buying their show Off the Bench as a complete package, with advertising already sold. It airs Saturdays from 9am.

Between Hutchison's news-breaking skills and Pickering's player knowledge, the pair produces a rollicking two hours of radio, which has already won a following on seven regional stations.

Hutchison comes across as an affable reporter, but he is also known for his entrepreneurial skill. Between jobs on Channel Nine and SEN, Hutchison runs Crocmedia, a communications company with offices in Australia and the US.

Pickering also has talents beyond football, forging a career as a player manager with IMG since retiring from Geelong in 2000. His charges include such big names as Geelong's Gary Ablett and Hawthorn's Lance Franklin.

Both hosts hail from country Victoria — Hutchison from Warragul and Pickering from Stawell — and they could see the need for a show catering for all Victorian footy fans, not just those within the tram tracks.

"But none of this would have happened if I was still at 3AW, so getting sacked was the best that's happened to me," Hutchison says. "Now we've got our own show and it covers the whole footprint of Victoria."

? Watch out Neil Mitchell: there's a new guy at 3AW and he wants your job. The hopeful broadcaster is former tennis champion Todd Woodbridge, the new social commentator on Mitchell's morning shift. He goes to air Wednesdays at 9.40am.

Applying his famous sporting tenacity to his new media career, Woodbridge says he has long-term plans to host his own radio show in years to come. And Mitchell admits his young protege has potential. "It's certainly not the silliest idea in the world," Mitchell says.

"Todd's really determined. Let's see how he goes as social commentator, but I think there's a possibility of him going further in radio." Mitchell met Woodbridge at a farewell dinner for Qantas chairwoman Margaret Jackson last year and they hit it off. "I'm an avid talkback listener," Woodbridge says.

"I'm glued to the radio most of the day. But I know that I've got a humungous amount of work to do before I can even think about my own show. "I'm only 36, so I've got plenty of time to keep learning and building experience. It's good to be able to get out of the sporting box — not that I've ever thought about being a social commentator."