RADIO'S official ratings season will kick off tomorrow with a dramatically changed landscape after several tumultuous months of high-profile resignations and appointments.

The search for new talent was under way as late as last week, when 2UE announced that ABC NewsRadio presenter Sandy Aloisi would partner breakfast host Mike Carlton.

The earliest report card on the Class of 2008 will be on February 19, when the year's first ratings survey is released.

2UE is banking on a woman's touch as it takes on talkback powerhouse Alan Jones in the key breakfast slot this year.

Aloisi will become only the second female voice in the 5.30am-to-9am time slot (along with 702's Deborah Cameron) after signing a one-year contract to replace Peter FitzSimons as Mike Carlton's co-host.

Aloisi was a last-minute pick for sixth-placed 2UE after Deborah Thomas, of The Australian Women's Weekly, and Nine Network presenter Ken Sutcliffe both turned down roles.

The former 2UE program director, who left the station in 2006 after 14 years to work for ABC NewsRadio, said she would bring a journalistic edge to the program, which will be renamed Mike and Sandy.

"It's an opportunity to express an opinion.

"Until now, at the ABC, I haven't really expressed any opinions; we played it straight down the line.''
Aloisi and Carlton's main opponent will be Alan Jones, but they don't expect to beat the king of breakfast radio, who finished last year with roughly double their audience share.

"Alan's a great broadcaster, but there's a dimension in what we hope to bring that Alan perhaps can't tap into, and that is what's going on in everyday life, really,'' Aloisi said.

Jones, who spent more time off-air than ever last year, will be looking to re-assert his dominance after being beaten by 2GB colleague Ray Hadley for the first time in the final ratings survey of 2007.
Among other performances to watch will be 2UE morning host Steve Price, who replaces John Laws.

Price, 53, has already fired the first salvo in the ratings war with Hadley, describing himself as a better journalist than his rival.

Sydney's FM-radio battle will mainly be about breakfast radio, and it promises to be fierce.

Although 2Day FM breakfast hosts Kyle and Jackie O finished 2007 on top, they face stiff competition and are up against some recognisable faces.

Dancing With The Stars' Sonia Kruger and Todd McKenney have taken the reins at Mix 106.5, replacing Sammy Power and Subby Valentine, and former Home And Away favourite Kate Ritchie has joined Nova 96.9 duo Merrick and Rosso.

"Everyone has filled my head with lots of information, but I'm sure my biggest day of learning is going to be tomorrow, when it's all happening,'' Ritchie said.

Nova's breakfast team ended 2007 with an audience share of 8.5 per cent, compared with 2Day's 11.8 per cent.

"You have your ups and downs, and you never know where it's going to go,'' Merrick said last week.

McKenney and Kruger are hoping their profiles on Dancing With The Stars will help them in the ratings race, as Mix finished 2007 with a 5.9 per cent share.

"I do like a bit of competition,'' Kruger said.

In other movements on the radio dial, Paul Murray has joined Fifi Box and Marty Sheargold on Triple M's The Shebang.

Angela Catterns has left Vega 95.3, leaving Tony Squires, Rebecca Wilson and Mikey Robins to host the breakfast program.The Sunday Telegraph By Jonathon Moran and Katherine Danks