Digital art for THe Daily Telegraph
Digital art for THe Daily Telegraph

2GB locks doors, refuses to accept petition from listeners

Security guards at 2GB refused to open the doors of the radio station to accept a petition from angry listeners protesting plans to bump host Chris Smith onto nights. SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES

Earlier, security guards had chained the gates shut as just a tiny handful of protesters and many, many signs gave vent to their anger.

Organiser Anita Donlon travelled down from Bendigo said: "Why on earth would you want to turn around and change a winning formula? Why is a family man going to be shafted?"

She took a petition signed by 1160 angry listeners into the foyer of the radio station's Pyrmont headquarters but was refused entry to hand it over.

As four police officers arrived she told the guard through the closed glass door: "We will not be listening to 2GB or watching Channel 9 again until we know Chris Smith is safe in his job."

Protest banners outside 2GB headquarters in Pyrmont. Picture: Matthew Benns
Protest banners outside 2GB headquarters in Pyrmont. Picture: Matthew Benns

 

2GB Head Engineer Scott Rollo holds reception doors shut as protesters attempt to hand over a petition. Picture: Matthew Benns
2GB Head Engineer Scott Rollo holds reception doors shut as protesters attempt to hand over a petition. Picture: Matthew Benns

Management locked reception doors just before midday, telling staff to be careful of anyone following them inside.

"With the safety and well being of our colleagues in mind, and to minimise disruption to our neighbours in the building, please be mindful of anybody attempting to follow you into our offices as you swipe in," an email said.

"It is the responsible thing to do to ensure that we challenge unfamiliar faces who may be trying to gain access to our offices."

Smith is said to be distraught at the decision by Macquarie Media bosses to move him off nights and swap him with regular night-time host Steve Price.

At least three major advertisers have threatened to pull up to $2 million worth of advertising from the station if the decision goes ahead.

Loyal ‘Smithy’ supporters urge 2GB management to listen. Picture: Matthew Benns
Loyal ‘Smithy’ supporters urge 2GB management to listen. Picture: Matthew Benns

However bosses at Macquarie Media are understood to be determined to go ahead with the cost cutting move - pushing Smith onto nights as soon as he returns from a three week holiday, which includes a cruise with listeners from New York to Europe.

Alan Jones, Chris Smith (pictured) and Ray Hadley are off-air this week for the radio ratings breaking.
Alan Jones, Chris Smith (pictured) and Ray Hadley are off-air this week for the radio ratings breaking.

The change would allow Price to be syndicated into Melbourne and allow the station to save money by axing popular 3AW host Denis Walters.

Macquarie Media had planned to save money by not re-signing breakfast star Alan Jones, but were overruled by new owners at Nine Entertainment who ordered them to sign Jones for another two years at $8 million.

That left Macquarie's bosses in a bind because they had already promised morning host Ray Hadley the breakfast slot and told Price he could move into Hadley's morning spot.

Hadley has said he is happy to wait for Jones to retire, he keeps the $1.7 million pay rise he negotiated for doing the breakfast slot anyway, but Price is understood to have agitated for the move.

2GB radio hosts Ross Greenwood, Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, Ben Fordham and Chris Smith.
2GB radio hosts Ross Greenwood, Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, Ben Fordham and Chris Smith.

Meanwhile Smith's staff have still not been informed about anything that is happening. However it is unlikely they will be out of work for long if there is a move to nights - Hadley has lost five staff in the last two years amid bullying claims and is believed to by eyeing off Smith's producer for a key role.



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