“Until recently Magic and 4BH were successful music stations and our research clearly shows there is a gap in the market for this music format, built around the best of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” he said.
The announcement is the latest twist in 2UE’s history.
The iconic station – which opened in January 1925, and launched the broadcasting careers of John Laws and Alan Jones, among others – lost much of its historical lustre following Fairfax Media’s radio merger with Macquarie Radio Network in 2015, with its ratings cannibalised by rival-turned-stablemate 2GB.
It was rebranded as Talking Lifestyle 954 in September 2016, and again as talkback sports station Macquarie Sports Radio in April 2018. Last October, the station’s talk shows were “paused” and on-air talent made redundant ahead of the station’s transition to Nine.
While the station continued to air its live sports coverage, in its last ratings survey in December last year it earned just 0.7 per cent of the total listening audience in Sydney and 0.4 per cent in Melbourne.
Nine announced in early January that the Macquarie Media brand would be “phased out” in coming months. This week it launched its nightly one-hour Wide World of Sports show on 2GB, hosted by Macquarie Sports Radio’s former breakfast presenter Mark Levy.
In Tuesday’s announcement, Nine said despite the focus on music the stations would continue to honour their existing sports rights contracts with the NRL, AFL and Cricket Australia by airing sports commentary for those matches for the life of the contract.
The new stations will have a “soft launch” on February 2.