‘A well thought-out shambles’: Kennedy and Molloy on their national drive show

Jane Kennedy and Mick Molloy speak with James Manning about the new drive show.

Timed nicely to coincide with the last week of ratings in GfK’s first radio survey of 2018, Triple M hosts Jane Kennedy and Mick Molloy toured the metro capitals last week.

Their new drive show went national in January this year and the Long Lunch five-city tour provided the radio veterans with an opportunity to flaunt the Triple M brand, and their product in particular, in front of advertisers and listeners.

Mediaweek’s James Manning spoke to Kennedy and Molloy before their Sydney Long Lunch in The Rocks. Joining them in our interview “booth” was super producer Sam Cavanagh, but he left the talking to his latest dream team.

Mick Molloy observed the Cunard cruise liner Queen Elizabeth was moored just down the street from where they were holding the Sydney Long Lunch. “It’s OK to have a cruise ship in,” he told Mediaweek, “as long as there is a Carnival Cruises-style punch-on occasionally. Do you think they have ever had a glassing on the QE2? I want to see a family of 26 unloaded before I buy a ticket.”

The Long Lunch Tour

Kennedy: We have been keen to get out and let people know we are on air and by going national we wanted to chat to as many people as possible.

Molloy: We are well aware this is important for the stations that are putting us on. We want them to feel like they know us and we can be part of the family. We were going to make the trips one at a time, but then we thought if we did them together we could get some content out of it, doing like a mini tour. At the same time turn it into something fun, as opposed to something we feel like we have to do.

Kennedy: We wanted to find something we could do really well. I know… long lunches.

Molloy: Don’t try this at home. It is not for amateurs. Five long lunches in five states… we are professionals.

The Kennedy-Molloy collaboration

Molloy: Jane and I had a casual conversation – over a long lunch as it turned out – and we planted the seed. We wanted to work together and do radio again. For me personally I wanted a change from the breakfast show for family reasons, but I wanted to keep doing radio. Doing it with someone I’d known for a long time, and a friend, seemed the obvious way.

If you are doing radio, the biggest show you can do is a national drive show.

Kennedy: The timing felt right to get out of the house every day, and to come and play with Mick on air sounded like a dream gig. There had been offers in the past, but they didn’t work for me family-wise. I had a discussion with the gang at home and there was a big thumbs up to get mum out of the house.

A well thought-out shambles

Mick: A lot of work goes into this show to make it sound like a shambles. I joined Jane and the Working Dog team many years ago and I learnt my work ethic from the D-Generation. I was very fortunate, as a youngster just starting out, to learn exactly what was required.

Before each drive show we spend a lot of time talking on a lot of different topics. We usually spend longer than the show itself [over two hours] working on each day’s show. On any show on TV, radio or even a movie, you usually get rewarded for effort.

I wish I could do a show where I just walk in and be hilarious off the top of my head. I have found from experience that doesn’t work too well. [Laughs]

Are you getting any indication apart from ratings how the show is performing?

Molloy: Southern Cross Austereo and Triple M seem to think it is all heading in the right direction. What they might be basing that on and what information they have I’m not quite sure. They are happy that there are sponsors nosing around. To me that is the barometer.

Kennedy: We have been told enough times now that we shouldn’t hang everything on the first result. Things don’t happen overnight.

Molloy: In six months we should have a good indication of how we are going. People who don’t want to listen will have left the scene, and it is now up to us to collect new ones and build the audience. We have launched a lot of shows over the years and this feels as good and as comfortable as anything we have done before.

Any creative challenge going from just Melbourne to a national audience?

Kennedy: Absolutely not. It has been seamless to be honest.

Molloy: We can’t talk about the Tigers as much, which is the only downside. There has never been any shortage of material on any given day. We tend to spend as much time talking about our lives as we do about stories in the news.

Triple M sounds like a brand really hitting its stride.

Kennedy: I think so too. There is certainly a buzz around all the places we are visiting.

It is the only FM station I have ever worked for and I feel right at home.

Molloy: Jane is an old-school rock chick. I have always carried the flag for Triple M. It has great listeners and we have genuinely enjoyed meeting them – they are down-to-earth, funny people.

Molloy: Triple M is a station that grew up with us. I was listening as a youngster when the audience was wearing AC/DC shirts. The audience has grown in part with the station and it feels very natural for me to talk to the Triple M audience. It is far more interesting and cosmopolitan than it ever used to be.

Kennedy: It certainly suits us.

Molloy: It is the only place we ever seriously considered placing this show.

You seem to be given free rein on the program.

Kennedy: Oh, really?

[Executive producer Sam Cavanagh sniggers in the background.]

Molloy: We have won that war. [Laughs] We have reached a happy medium between talk and music.

[When asked by Molloy how many songs they play an hour, Cavanagh says about three.]

As long as we get a Foo Fighters track in there every now and then, everybody is happy.

Kennedy: They have been pretty generous with us. There hasn’t been an overlord coming in doing air-checks. They have been very respectful. They seem to understand that we have been doing it long enough to, hopefully, know what we are doing.

Drive show hours are the best on radio.

Molloy: I have five RDOs, which I can take at any time.

Kennedy: I can’t believe you brought that up. [Sounding agitated. There was an awkward pause on the tape about here as a frosty silence descended over the pub we were talking in.]

Jane and Mick on TV

Kennedy and Molloy are both regulars on TEN’s Have You Been Paying Attention?, which returns this year again after Easter.

Molloy: That is car crash TV, isn’t it?

Kennedy: I wish I could be more enthused about it. It really is nerve-racking.

[Molloy will be kept busy each week from the end of March with The Front Bar for Seven.]

Molloy: We have a few national hit-outs this year. We have just done the Winter Olympics specials and we will do two Commonwealth Games specials. We might even do a Melbourne Cup special and maybe an election special too.

I enjoy working on both those shows. Beyond that, I play a bit of golf and spend time with my children. Life is good.

Kennedy and Molloy on the radio competition

Molloy: There are a lot of very good shows in drive slots. We are under no illusion how competitive it is. We feel we have a point of difference. I’m not sure we are in direct competition with anyone – other networks seem to pitch younger. We are a little older and I hope we can carve out an audience there we will make our own.

We are not really into stunts. This is as close to a stunt we get: “Five lunches in five days – the guys have gone mad!” [Laughs]

Kennedy: Nothing is off limits in the show for us.

Molloy: Instead of trying to land big guests all the time, we think we can tick over Monday to Friday with a stable of very solid guests and friends that will be worth listening to every day. If we can get some big guests on top of that, it is a bonus.

I think we are too lazy to go for regular showbiz guests. I was going to say mature, but I think lazy will do.

We want to keep it shambolic.

Kennedy: Shambolic and lazy!

Top photo: Jane Kennedy and Mick Molloy in Brisbane

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