“He’s my best friend,” she said. “We talk on the phone every other day. It’ll stay that way. He’s right behind me and comfortable with everything. Telling him I’d been offered the Afternoons gig was a big deal and it meant a lot to me that he was happy. He was like a mother bird pushing me out the nest.”
Dunleavy is set to be 3AW’s first female Afternoons host in more than 20 years. Her appointment comes a week after sister stations 2GB and 4BC announced Nine presenter Deborah Knight would be replacing Steve Price in the afternoon timeslot. Management at Macquarie Media, which owns the stations, has been hoping to increase its number of female listeners for some time.
“I hope I got the job because I’m the best person for it,” Dunleavy said. “I’m not a gender warrior. I just do the best job I do. But I can’t ignore the fact that, yes, I’m breaking new ground and I feel very proud. I must say the men I’ve worked with have always been incredibly supportive and encouraging. We have a large female staff behind the scenes.
“There’s been this myth that people don’t like listening to female voices. I don’t know where that came from.”
Dunleavy said she wanted to largely retain her predecessor’s “fun but informative” approach.
“I started in newspapers 40 years ago and when I started in radio I read the news,” she said. “It’s part of who I am to chase a news story. But, at the same time, my default position is to find the fun in things. So my blueprint would be 3AW’s breakfast program, which is loads of fun but has loads of information as well.
“I’m super excited. I’m not sure if nervous is the right word, but the nerves have sort of crept in. I’m very aware that doing one of the key shifts on 3AW comes with a great level of responsibility. I don’t want to let people down.”
Nine, the owner of this masthead, is also the owner of Macquarie Media, the broadcaster of 3AW and Macquarie Sports.