THE radio ratings season began today with a host of new on-air talent fronting the microphones.

The breakfast shift - 2007's most hotly contested time slot - will sound very different this year after a spate of resignations and appointments.

In Sydney, last year's ratings winners, 2Day FM's Kyle and Jackie O, return to face off against some new high-profile competition.

Former Home and Away actress Kate Ritchie got her first taste of 6am starts today as she joined comic duo Merrick and Rosso on Nova 96.9's breakfast show.

The first day on the job saw her interviewing one of Australia's biggest stars, pop star Kylie Minogue.

Ritchie replaces Sami Lukis, who relocated to her home state of Queensland and will join Brisbane's Triple M.

Fellow radio newcomers, Dancing With The Stars' Sonia Kruger and Todd McKenney, also celebrated their new gig on Sydney's Mix 106.5 by chatting with Minogue.

Meanwhile, Paul Murray has joined Fifi Box and Marty Sheargold on Triple M's The Shebang, and Angela Catterns has left Vega 95.3, leaving Rebecca Wilson, Mikey Robins and Tony Squires hosting the breakfast program.

ABC NewsRadio presenter Sandy Aloisi will partner 2UE breakfast host Mike Carlton, replacing Peter FitzSimons.

The show, which will be renamed Mike and Sandy, will go head to head with Sydney talkback king Alan Jones on 2GB, while 2UE host Steve Price steps into the slot vacated by the recently retired John Laws.

Melbourne's Triple M has axed the long-running Cage breakfast team to welcome comic Pete Helliar and Spicks and Specks regular Myf Warhurst.

At Vega in Melbourne, comedian Dave O'Neil will be joined on the early morning shift by Australian Idol judge Ian “Dicko” Dickson and Big Brother runner-up Chrissie Swan.

The first ratings survey of 2008 will be released on February 19.

Figures released today by the industry's peak body Commercial Radio Australia, show that on average 8.74 million people, or 77 per cent of Australians, listened to commercial radio each week in 2007.

That was an increase of 79,000 people from 2006.

On average, Australians spent 17 hours and 17 minutes per week listening to commercial radio during 2007, or two hours and 28 minutes per day.

People in Adelaide topped the list, spending an average of two hours and 37 minutes tuned in, while people in Brisbane generally switched off after two hours and 23 minutes.
source The Australian