Two years ago, one of the most recognised voices on Melbourne radio said there was nothing he would rather be doing than sitting behind the microphone hosting Mornings at 3AW.
This morning, veteran radio host Neil Mitchell announced through that microphone he will retire after 33 years, ending weeks of speculation.
Mitchell, 71, has occupied the 8.30am-12pm slot on the leading Melbourne radio station since 1990.
His retirement marks one of the most significant changes to the Melbourne radio landscape in years, coming a day after ABC competitor Virginia Trioli told listeners she was quitting radio.
Mitchell has become known for his agenda-setting show, with a dominant stranglehold over the morning timeslot, an average audience of 143,000 in the most recent radio survey, released on Tuesday this week.
In the same survey, he more than doubled the share of his closest competitor, growing from a 17.1 to 20.1 per cent overall share, while the station also boosted its overall share 2.1 points to 16.7 per cent, with breakfast duo, Russel Howcroft and Ross Stevenson, also posting a 22.3 per cent share.
Drive host Tom Elliot is the favourite to be appointed his replacement.
The Melbourne station is owned by Nine, which is also the publisher of this masthead.
Mitchell, one of Nine’s highest-profile stars told this masthead in August the network had made it clear they wanted him to stay on, having recently signed a six-month contract extension until the end of 2023.
Elliot, who while unconfirmed is expected to be appointed Mitchell’s successor, has been 3AW’s drive host since 2013 and on Tuesday reclaimed the number one spot, with an 11.7 per cent share, and an average audience of 64,000.
Elliot’s show runs from 3-6pm, while the ‘Drive’ ratings slot is measured between 4-7pm.
Mitchell first joined 3AW in 1987 and was handed the Morning show in 1990, which he has held since.
For the majority of his time on air, Mitchell’s closest rival was ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine, who stepped down from broadcasting in 2019 after 23 years in the same slot.
“It must have been very frustrating for him – 23 years without an opinion,” Mitchell said of his former competitor at the time.
The gap between Mitchell and his talkback competitors at the ABC has widened over the course of the past decade. Mitchell’s 20.1 per cent share in the fifth survey this year was unchallenged by Trioli’s 7.5 per cent share.
In 2014, Mitchell held a 14.4 per cent share, while Faine’s share sat at 12.7 per cent. During pandemic-impacted 2020 and 2021, Trioli and ABC Melbourne closed the gap between the stations, somewhat.
Mitchell has won a number of awards, including a Walkley Award in 2013 after breaking news live on air that Ford would stop manufacturing cars in Australia by 2016. He has also won eight Quill Awards, the Melbourne Press Club Journalist of the Year, several Australian Commercial Radio Awards as well as being appointed Officer of the Order of Australia.
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Source: Thanks smh.com