Vega’s new breakfast line-up - Australian Idol’s grouchy judge Ian “Dicko” Dickson, bogan comic Dave O’Neil and one-time Big Brother evictee Chrissie Swan - is a dubious combination on paper, but on air the trio bristles with energy.

And listeners are tuning in, if Vega’s pumped-up talkback callers are any guide. But the station needs a miracle to catch up to the top-rating breakfast teams on Fox and Nova. It also needs to at least double ratings figures to compete with Triple M and Mix, both busy batting up their own new breakfast shows this month.

Fox FM’s Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley returned from holidays in sparkling form, clearly enjoying the battle of one-upmanship with their Nova rivals Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek. Listeners will need a sharp prod to leave these shows.

The A-team at 3AW - Ross Stevenson, John Burns and Neil Mitchell - is also back to its top-rating best, along with Red Symons and Lindy Burns on 774 (much to the relief of cranky ABC listeners who have complained to the Letters pages about comedians as fill-ins over summer).

In another tussle, Nova is making a tilt at Fox FM’s unstoppable drive duo Hamish Blake and Andy Lee. Last weekend, Nova signed Triple M funny man Ed Kavalee (who was left jobless in November when Tony Martin’s Get This crew was mysteriously sacked). Kavalee will join Akmal Saleh and Cal Wilson from 3-6pm, starting Monday.

According to industry scuttlebutt, another Get This refugee, Richard Marsland, was courted by Triple M for a key shift, but he chose to concentrate on comedy writing work with Rove and Shaun Micallef’s Newstopia. Marsland’s ex-boss Martin is writing another book.

Meanwhile, as the new breakfast shows settle into a daily groove, several radio bosses privately earmark Vega as the best of the new teams, which must be music to the ears of Vega bosses after years of lurking at the bottom of the ratings ladder.

“We know it’s a big challenge,” says Dickson, a British-bred Sydneysider who admits he knows little about Melbourne. “But I’m keen to prove to Melbourne that I’m not some Pommy, Sydney-based blow-in. I want to connect with this city, so I’m buying a house down here and committing to this show.

“It sounds hokey, but it’s an absolute privilege to talk to a major city as it’s waking up. Every morning, I get out of bed at four with such a spring in my step.”

By contrast, the first week on air could only be described as a struggle for Triple M’s much-hyped breakfast team, comedian Peter Helliar and ABC golden girl Myf Warhurst. Both seasoned performers on TV and radio, Helliar and Warhurst seemed tense and disjointed in their first few shifts, but they have settled into a more relaxed zone this week.

Meanwhile, Warhurst is rapt to be home in Melbourne after a stint on the Triple J breakfast show in Sydney. She knows many of her rivals and admits to sending congratulatory text messages to Vega’s Dickson, with whom she worked on the ABC’s popular Favourite Album show.

“Pete and I were a bit nervous at first,” says Warhurst, fresh from an afternoon sleep before filming an episode of Spicks and Specks. “There was such a big publicity push for the show, so there are big expectations weighing on you.

“But I’m really happy now. I don’t want to sound up myself, but it’s really going well. It just takes a while to settle in.”

Mix FM’s breakfast show Two Women and a Metro had a promising start, thanks to the slick timing and appeal of Triple M veterans Brigitte Duclos and George McEncroe, backed up by the easy-going comic-style Tom Gleeson, the show’s lone bloke and alleged metrosexual.

Duclos and McEncroe, accustomed to batting off blokey jibes on Triple M, are clearly relishing the chance to talk about children and shopping rather than muscle utes and footy. The newly married Gleeson creates a good balance, as one of a handful of male comics with a big female fan base.

“Women are the reason I got into comedy,” Gleeson explains after his first week on air at Mix. “When I was a primary-school kid, I used to get approval from women by making them laugh. It was the only way because I had freckles and red hair.”

* Public radio veteran Neil Rogers will mark 25 years of broadcasting with a special live show on Triple R tonight. The three-hour show will feature performances by Perry Keyes, Liz Stringer, Harem Scarem and the Darling Downs, from 7pm.

* Student station SYN also celebrates an anniversary today - five years of full-time broadcasting.

Source and entire article The Age by Wendy Hargreaves