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The Sydney Morning Herald

After 11 years of cleaning up breakfast, she's called it a morning

Author: Richard Jinman
Date: 29/11/2003
Words: 454
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News And Features
Page: 5
There were screams, a few tears and the Australian Idol sang What a Wonderful World.

``Thank you Sydney, I love you," said an emotional Wendy Harmer yesterday as the 2Day FM presenter signed off after 11 years as the undisputed queen of breakfast radio.

Harmer and her co-presenters, Greg Fleet and Paul Holmes, made their final broadcast yesterday from a stage in Sydney Square. Arriving at 5.30am, they were greeted by about 500 fans, a tiny fraction of the 600,000 Sydneysiders who regularly tuned in.

Watched by family, friends and a crowd that swelled to more than 1000, Harmer's guests included the Premier, Bob Carr, Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull, Australian Idol Guy Sebastian and television host Ray Martin. Film director Baz Luhrmann said his goodbyes via telephone.

After the broadcast, Harmer and her family were driven to Sydney Airport. It is believed they will be taking a holiday on Lizard Island in north Queensland.

Harmer has said she will not return to radio and is looking forward to spending more time with her husband Brendan Donohoe and their children.

The general manager of 2Day FM, Patrick Joyce , said yesterday's event was ``a recognition of what has been the dominant breakfast show for the past 11 years".

``Out of 88 surveys, we were No. 1 83 times," he said. ``Which puts the most recent survey loss to [rival station] Nova in perspective."

Victorian-born Harmer, a stand-up comedian and former journalist, joined 2Day FM's breakfast program in 1992. She had an edgy, long-running partnership with Peter Moon, but he resigned from the program last year.

Harmer will be replaced by Melbourne comedian Judith Lucy, but Fleet and Holmes will not be part of the new team.

Fellow broadcasters paid tribute to Harmer's 11-year run yesterday.

Andrew Denton, who temporarily joined the breakfast show in 1994, said: ``She was a woman in a male-dominated media and she kicked everyone's arse. She's a total pro, tough as old boots and generous as well. When the nuclear holocaust comes I'm backing Wendy to be one of the survivors."

2UE breakfast host Mike Carlton said: ``She was terrific and she'll be a loss to radio. But I'm sure she'll be back one day bigger and better than ever."

Merrick Watts, one half of Merrick and Rosso, the Nova team that has stolen 2Day FM's breakfast crown, marvelled at Harmer's stamina.

``It's very hard to imagine doing breakfast radio that long and being that good at it," he said.

``It's incredible she's done so well for so long."

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