MediaWorks says it 'misphrased' statement about new radio station

An audio statement aired yesterday on now disestablished Today FM was misphrased, according to Mediaworks, which incorrectly said a new station would launch on the same frequency in April.

It comes as the final blow for the station was announced last night following a tumultuous day for Today FM employees, who were sent into a meeting in the morning to be told the board wanted to shut down the station.

Staff had until about 3pm to submit on the board's proposal before being told about 5.30pm that the "difficult decision" had been made to take Today FM off air.

Confusingly however, the station also broadcast at 5.15pm that a new station would launch next month.

"This station is no longer Today FM. Black Caps radio will still be on this frequency with live cricket coverage of the New Zealand vs Sri Lank one day and 20-20 series. The next live game will be the third ODI starting at 2pm tomorrow. REX Rural Exchange will still play on this frequency at usual times for now and then in April a new station will be launching on this frequency."

But today, a spokesperson for Mediaworks said: "The new station in April as mentioned in our on air message was a misphrasing and was later reworded. What it meant was Today FM would be replaced by a combination of music brands which aren't currently broadcasting in those markets, so for example The Breeze will play in Northland and George FM will play in Dunedin."

The spokesperson further clarified by saying "after Today FM went off air a voiced message played once saying Today FM would be replaced by a new station on the same frequency in April. This was intended to let listeners know there would be a change to their programming. The frequencies occupied by Today FM will be switched to a range of music brands which aren't currently broadcast in those regions, so new to the listener, rather than new to MediaWorks".

MediaWorks' interim chief executive Wendy Palmer said yesterday that "MediaWorks, like the whole advertising sector in New Zealand and internationally, continues to be impacted by an environment with lower revenues and higher costs. At the request of the MediaWorks Board we have undertaken a review of the entire business to identify further areas of potential cost saving and to reshape the business for the market conditions.

"This has led the Board to take the difficult decision to take Today FM off air and to explore options for a digital content offering. This is a hard day for this talented team who put everything into building a new talk platform in Aotearoa. They've worked tremendously hard and we're incredibly proud of the work they have done.

"We'd also like to thank everyone who supported Today FM over the last year, from our regular contributors, to our advertisers and especially our listeners. From Ardern to Zelensky, we've kept Kiwis informed with the very best of news and current affairs and we’re grateful to everyone who tuned in."

Morning hosts Duncan Garner and Tova O'Brien voiced their upset live on air yesterday morning.

"We've been on the air for a year; we were told we had the support of everyone, from the chief executive through to the board, through to the executive.

"And they have f***** us," O’Brien said.

"We're all gonna lose our jobs, and the station is gonna go off the air."

"This is betrayal," Garner said.

He described the scene, saying employees were in a bad way, crying and "shell-shocked".