New ABC host Craig Zonca continues strong tradition

ABC Brisbane breakfast conquers the market

The alarm goes off at 3.15am every weekday for Craig Zonca. “It has taken a bit of getting used to, let me assure you,” the ABC Brisbane breakfast host told Mediaweek.

If the first alarm doesn’t work then Zonca has two back-ups, the third is positioned across the room so he has to get out bed to silence it if it goes off.

In Zonca’s first year as the host of the breakfast show after taking over from Spencer Howson at ABC Brisbane, the audience has been kind to him. He has had good ratings since arriving, starting with ranking equal #1 in breakfast in survey one, 2017. The audience then climbed a little in survey two before pulling back a little midyear. In the recent survey five he recovered, lifting to 12.2%, pushing him ahead of the 97.3 and Nova breakfast products.

“People have been switching around this year sampling some of the new shows on commercial stations,” he explained. The ABC breakfast shows around Australia are helped in the timeslot by the ABC news offerings and the morning radio current affairs program AM.

“I was very humbled by the recent result and it proves to me we can do the show we want to do and have it resonate with audiences. We are very focused locally and people want to know what is going on in their city. We can be the facilitator of their discussions whether it is what is going on in their street, suburb, city or state. There are also broader national discussions that we can give a local voice to.”

Zonca paid tribute to the legacy that Howson left behind after 11 years hosting Brisbane breakfast. “It was a remarkable achievement given the discipline you need for breakfast. He achieved great success at the station and it is good to know we have been able to continue that.

“We have changed the show and modified it a little trying to make it my own. We have kept some of the same regulars that Spencer had. I have been given the freedom to make changes though from ABC management who have been happy for us to try new things.

“Whether that will work for 12 months or 11 years I don’t know yet!”

Howson encouraged Zonca to make changes to the program after the two spoke before Howson departed. “He said I should shape the show to reflect my personality – to show off my interests and what I was passionate about. But also to hold up a mirror to continue to reflect what matters to the people of Brisbane and south-east Queensland.”

Howson leaves Zonca alone these days, although he still fires off the occasional early morning tweets. “Spencer was so supportive of me during my time at the ABC and I have taken a lot out of watching him work – he is a master of the craft.”

Zonca has worked around Queensland for a decade on ABC regional radio where he learnt to “become a jack of all trades”.

He added: “You sometimes get to see more of the audience when you work in the regions. In Brisbane I am trying to bring the voices of the people you will see out and about in Brisbane to the radio.”

This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine. 

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