Source and entire article from The Age Green Guide

"MEANINGLESS", "inane" and "pathetic" are just a few of the barbs fired at 774 ABC Melbourne's stand-in breakfast host Tony Moclair, but to all those listeners who complained — he's ba-ack!

The Brunswick comedian and 3RRR graduate will be keeping Red Symons' seat warm again on Monday. For critics who swamped the Green Guide letters pages when Moclair filled in with fellow comic Rachel Berger over summer, perhaps a one-day switch to Radio National might be in order.

The fellow in Mount Eliza, who wrote of Moclair's "new dimension to flippancy" ought take heed, as should the chap from Mentone, who urged Red to "hurry back". Tune in elsewhere from 5.30am on Monday.

But Moclair is worth a go. He's a decent broadcaster who makes engaging radio, even if it is a tad unconventional.

And if you thought the letters were getting under his skin, think again. Moclair hasn't read a single word. He's too busy writing comedy for television and radio, with guest slots on Channel Seven's Out of the Question (hosted by fellow comic Glenn Robbins).

"It can really do your head in if you take that sort of stuff on board," Moclair says. "Rachel and I were a bit perplexed by the strength of the reaction. I suppose it shows the strength of passion listeners have for the station.

"But it's a bit like throwing half a can of beer at the warm-up act. It's just a waste of good beer. I can't say I'm sorry for anything that we did on air because I thought we had a good show. Clearly, people have been writing in, but Red's ratings went up a little bit in the first survey and I like to think that we handed him a slightly increased audience."

Your correspondent would like to wind back the clock a few years and remind Red's legion of fans of many angry letters that appeared on the same pages when he was the temporary fill-in during Lynne Haultain's maternity leave.

Here's one example of the reaction to the former Skyhooks guitarist: "My ears are assaulted by cheery brightness that is quite unbecoming at this hour," wrote a woman from Mount Waverley.

And this from a Ringwood couple: "We draw the line at the supercilious, narcissistic Red Symons. If we wanted to listen to his kind of drivel, we would have turned to commercial radio."

Reaction sent directly to the ABC showed Moclair and Berger had just as many fans as they did critics, which is just fine for ABC Victoria's local radio manager Steve Kyte.

Conceding each may work better on air as a solo act, Kyte expects Moclair to fill in a lot more on the breakfast shift, with Berger in the afternoons.

"I don't know if we'll go down the double-header format again," he says. "But it's important that we experiment and evolve over time."

Kyte is also keen to continue putting Age columnist Catherine Deveny on air — another source of consternation for many ABC listeners. Deveny's views are often divisive, but Kyte says her entertainment value is high.

"We've got to keep surprising our audience," he says. "A lot of media is really bland these days, so it's important for the public broadcaster to try out new things and take risks. Commercial stations can't take risks because they're governed by profit. If you want a lot of news, you can go to ABC News Radio. If you want more in-depth analysis, go to Radio National. The days of regarding other ABC services as competition are absolutely over.

"ABC TV is not all news and current affairs. There is The Chaser and Little Britain. Like ABC TV, there is nothing in our charter that says we have to be serious all the time. Our charter and editorial guidelines say we must be innovative and creative, which means taking risks."

?Veteran footy caller Dennis Cometti is joining 3AW warhorse Rex Hunt on air for the 2008 AFL season.

Cometti and Hunt will call Saturday matches from March 22. Both men are ex-footballers with decades of broadcast experience, but their vastly different styles may clash on 3AW (which is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this newspaper).

"Good radio has to have contrast," Hunt says as he prepares for his 30th consecutive year of calling footy.

"Let's face it. Two Rex Hunts would be an absolute nightmare. Dennis has a very different sense of humour to me, and a very different call. The contrast can only be a good thing."

Negotiations between Cometti and 3AW started in 2007 to replace Clinton Grybas, who decided to leave 3AW and focus on Fox Sports before his untimely death this year. Cometti will continue to appear on Channel Seven on Friday nights and Sundays, travelling from his Perth home for weekends.

Meanwhile, sports station SEN is still chasing Melbourne's only unattached A-list footy caller, Eddie McGuire. The station is talking to McGuire this week about calling matches with Anthony Hudson on Friday nights and some Sundays.

McGuire has also been courted by 3AW and Triple M, but not necessarily in football calling roles.

Rumours abound that 3AW wants McGuire in the drive slot, and Triple M may also offer a non-match shift.

"I might have a bit of a yell at SEN just for a bit of fun," McGuire says. "Whatever I do this year, if I do anything at all on radio, I just want to have some fun. I've flogged myself into the ground and just want to relax and have some fun again.

"I have to say, it's been great going into the backyard and kicking the footy rather than calling a NAB Cup game."