David Capewell had no reason to suspect anything was amiss yesterday
when he walked into the studio at radio station 2CH for his regular spot reading
the 11 am news bulletin.
It wasn't until the voice of a newsreader from the rival station 2GB came
through the studio that Mr Capewell discovered his station's news service had
ceased to exist and he was out of a job.
Mr Capewell's retrenchment, with the five other journalists who made up
2CH's newsroom, came just hours before the advertising guru Mr John Singleton
bought the station from AWA and the NSW Council of Churches.
"I literally did not know until I stepped into the studio that anything
was wrong," Mr Capewell said from his Naremburn home yesterday.
"It's an extremely upsetting way to treat people, to have no notice you
are going to be retrenched."
Mr Singleton referred questions about the retrenchments to AWA, saying he
did not formally take control of 2CH until 4 pm.
The closure of the newsroom, however, is believed to have been a condition
of the $4.75 million sale.
It was Mr Singleton's company, Radio Superhighway Pty Ltd, that signed the
agreement to take its local, national and international news feeds from 2GB's
Production, sales and secretarial staff were still unsure of their fate
yesterday, although Mr Singleton said he hoped there would be no more
The operations director at 2CH, Mr Joe Oost, will remain at the station
until the end of this year, when he is due to retire, and the former breakfast
announcer, John Tingle, will take over as director of news and current affairs.
Mr Singleton said he was not impressed by 2CH's news product and would
prefer to spend money on entertainment.
The format for 2CH, which ranks ninth in Sydney with a paltry 4.5 per cent
audience share, would be "good music and entertainment", although Mr Singleton
did not expect a drastic improvement in ratings for a while.
"It took 10 years to stuff up this place and its going to take a couple of
years to fix it up," he said.
Mr Singleton has hired the former host of Good Morning Australia,
Kerri-Anne Kennerley, to advise on promotions and to host the early morning
There was speculation that Mr Singleton would also approach the singer
The directors of Mr Singleton's new radio company include AWA's chairman,
Mr John Illife, and the Prime Minister's sister, Ms Anne Keating, the general
manager of United Airlines in Australia.
But Mr Singleton said his only equity partner in the purchase was Mr Mark
Carnegie, the chairman of John Singleton Advertising.
Mr Singleton said he was keen to expand his radio interests in Sydney and
The joint national secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts
Alliance, Mr Christopher Warren, called on the Australian Broadcasting Authority
to conduct an urgent inquiry into the operation of the satellite news services.
He said the alliance would urge 2CH management to reconsider its decision,
which raised questions about the diversity of Sydney's media, with two radio
stations in competition now having the same news service.
"We will be recommending that the Australian Broadcasting Authority place
limits on the percentage of broadcasts than can be imported from these satellite
news services," he said.
The alliance's legal officer, Mr Mark Ryan, said the journalists were
sacked without warning and might be liable to large compensation payouts and
even reinstatement under the unfair dismissal provisions of the new industrial