After 20 years on television and 16 Logies, it was only a matter of time before beloved host Rove McManus sought a new challenge on radio.
In October 2015 it was announced McManus would be returning from a sojourn in Los Angeles to host the breakfast show on Austereo’s Sydney station 2DayFM.
Soon after, his co-host was revealed to be Bachelorette star Sam Frost in her first radio foray.
Heavy promotion ensued ahead of the show’s November launch, with Frost’s large social media following and new romance with Bachelorette winner Sasha Mielczarek playing a major part.
However, as of March this year, the duo’s show had just 3 per cent of the audience share in the breakfast slot.
Meanwhile, rivals KIIS 106.5 boasted a 12.5 per cent share and AM station 2GB scored a whopping 16 per cent.
Last week, rival host Kyle Sandilands took aim at McManus, questioning 2DayFM’s ability to attract advertisers.
“In all honesty, if you worked over at Austereo and you had those Rove McManus figures … it’s just a joke,” Sandilands said on air.
“I just don’t understand why they’ve even got anyone advertising on their station. No one’s listening, no one cares, why bother advertising?”
Coming last is an unfamiliar feeling for both Frost and McManus, who enjoyed peak ratings of 1.92 million and 1.2 million respectively on their own TV shows.
So why is their show leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Sydneysiders?
A tricky timeslot
The breakfast slot on 2DayFM has struggled since Sandilands and co-host Jackie O left for KIIS FM, generating an almost immediate drop in ratings while their new station reaped the benefits.
In 2014, 2DayFM hired trio Jules Lund, Sophie Monk and Merrick Watts, who failed to rescue the ailing numbers.
They were replaced by Dan Debuf and Maz Compton in 2015, who were quickly relegated to the weekend breakfast slot.
By the time Debuf and Compton departed, 2DayFM had just a 2.9 per cent audience share, leaving Frost and McManus with a mammoth task.
Possibly the biggest challenge Frost and McManus face is Kyle and Jackie O.
For all their controversy, the loud-mouthed partnership of 11 years is radio gold.
Rumours of 2DayFM’s attempts to lure them back with pay cheques upwards of $10 million have been shot down by the hosts themselves.
“Let me just go on record saying I would never go back to Austereo even if they gave me the radio station,” Sandilands said earlier this year.
“If they said, ‘Here, you own it now’, I would say, ‘No thanks’. I haven’t had any contact from them.”
Of course, 2GB’s Alan Jones also has the upper hand in the AM market thanks to his controversial on-air antics and 30 years of radio experience.
The blame game
Many are pinning the show’s unpopularity on the less-experienced Frost, with reports claiming McManus feels she is more like “someone on work experience” than a co-host.
In January, Sandilands said Frost didn’t have “the skills” required but also pinned some of the blame on McManus.
“They will blame that poor girl for the ratings so they will replace her,” he said.
“She doesn’t have the radio skills. She is a sweetheart and a lovely thing but they will keep blaming people until they realise it [poor ratings] keeps happening.
“Where they have gone wrong with Rove is he just doesn’t translate on radio … most of his humour is in his facial expression and you don’t see it.”
Asked by news.com.au about criticism directed at his co-host, McManus was diplomatic.
“You’ve got to weather the storm,” he said. “I think she’s doing a tremendous job and there is nobody else that I would wanna have in that chair talking to me for three hours everyday.”
With a three-year contract with the station, it seems McManus has little choice but to “weather the storm”.