Fox FM (Melbourne)
|City of license||Mt Dandenong|
|Broadcast area||Melbourne, Victoria|
|Branding||Hit101.9 The Fox|
|Slogan||Melbourne's Hit Music Station|
|Frequency||101.9 MHz FM|
|First air date||1 August 1980|
|Format||Contemporary hit radio|
|Callsign meaning||3 - Victoria
|Affiliations||Today's Hit Network|
|Owner||Southern Cross Austereo
(SCA Digital Pty Ltd)
Hit 101.9 The Fox (call sign: 3FOX) is a radio station that serves Melbourne, Victoria, broadcasting on the FM band at a frequency of 101.9 MHz. Licensed to Mount Dandenong, Victoria, the station is currently owned by the Southern Cross Austereo and part of Today's Hit Network. The station's transmitter is located on the ATV-10 transmission tower on top of Mount Dandenong, Victoria.
Fox FM has held the coveted number one FM position for many years in the ACNielsen ratings, and is currently the most listened to radio station in Australia, with over 1.1 million listeners weekly since 2007. It is home to Australia's most successful radio shows, Fifi & Dave, Hamish & Andy and Shazam Top 20.
Fox FM started life at 5:00:00 PM on 1 August 1980. The station was put together by radio consultant Rhett H. Walker, who also acted as first General Manager. This followed a successful stint for Walker as a consultant for Radio 3KZ in 1979. One of Fox FM's original advertising lines was 'Catch the Fox' (at one-0-one-point nine).
The first song to be played on air, George Benson's "Breezin'," was played at the wrong speed by the station's first presenter, John Aimes. Aimes suggested this was due to harassment by studio manager Gary Collins, who was allegedly fussing around him in the studio right before the station went on air.
The first station studio equipment was a 16 channel Poul Kirk mixing desk, four cuemaster cart decks, JBL studio pro speakers and (then brand new) Technics turntables. The studio was pleasant to work in with a floor-to-ceiling window giving a view of filming of such Channel Ten programs as Neighbours, Prisoner and the short-lived Holiday Island.
The first two years of the station's life were not easy. Melbourne listeners did not initially flock to the new FM stations, sticking to their regular listening habits with stations such as 3AW, 3MP and 3XY. It was positioned originally as a classy easy listening style format. The format, FM is FOX MUSIC, came later, under the management of former 3XY station manager Graeham Smith.
The first presenter line up for FOX FM was:
- Breakfast: Mike Jeffreys (now overnight presenter 2UE)
- Mornings: Rod McNeil, former ABC national newsreader (now working on Thai radio)
- Afternoons: Graham Braddy, former 3KZ (Living in Perth, WA)
- Afternoons: Richard Coombe, former 3LO drive presenter (with Graham Kennedy) - ABC (deceased - 1990)
- Drive: John Aimes, former 3LO ABC (unknown at present)
- Overnight: Geoff Harrison, former 3KZ (later foreign correspondent based in Sweden for BBC TV/Radio, now owner of a TV and radio production and consultancy business)
The first newsroom staff were:
- News director: Michael Schildberger (deceased)
- Pamela McKay (now Network Ten USA news chief)
- Charles Slade (former 747 pilot who went on to Network Ten news in the 1980s and early 90s also former National Nine News reporter)
In 1982, the station's owners (which included Sir Donald Trescowthic, major shareholder of the Age Newspaper group) lost confidence in the original format and hired Mr. Smith to implement changes.
All the former announcers, except for Geoff Harrison were let go. Also, the station's instigator and first General Manager, the late Rhett H. Walker (later Associate Dean at La Trobe University) moved on to greener pastures.
From then on, the station was positioned with a pop rock format, appealing to the widest possible audience. This caused a steady rise in ratings through the mid-1980s, eventually landing the station in top position in Melbourne by 1986. The changes included new presenters, such as Gavin Wood (former TV show Countdown and 3XY announcer) and Barry Bissell. Take 40 Australia was a weekly countdown of the current ARIA Top 40 singles chart. During this time, the station also aired American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.
FOX was one of two original FM radio license holders in Melbourne. It aimed to be the first commercial FM station to commence broadcasting in Australia, although it was eventually beaten by 3EON (which is now FOX's sister station, 3MMM). FOX started life playing popular easy listening music whilst its other FM rival had adopted a more rock album orientated format. Throughout the history of the station its logo and marketing have always included a picture of a fox, although this was discontinued in 2005 when the entire Today Network introduced new standardised logos, much to the disappointment of many.
In 1986 FOX was bought by the owners of SAFM to create the Austereo Radio Network, which now - as Today's Hit Network - boasts five additional stations around Australia. It was at this time that announcer Mark Carter was moved from the breakfast shift to the afternoon shift, quickly becoming the most popular announcer in Melbourne over a record 11 surveys conducted and contributing to the rise in popularity of the station.
During September 2008, Fox FM re-located from studios at 180 St Kilda Road (with sister station Triple M) to brand new studios at 257 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne. The Matt and Jo Show gave away many items from the old studios during their last show at the St Kilda Road studios.
Rebranding to Hit 1019
In January 2015, Southern Cross Austereo announced a re-branding of the Today Network stations in capital cities. This followed the successful revamp in September 2014 of poorly preforming Adelaide network station SAFM. The rebrand was to Hit 107, which also provided it with a new sound and a new fresh on-air sound. In January, new logo's were announced for all the capital city stations (excluding Canberra) to the Hit brand.
Perth station 92.9 FM was rebranded to Hit 92.9, and the remaining capitals were co-branded their previous names with the hit brand and frequency, for example Hit 101.9 The Fox, Hit 105 and Hit 104.1 2DayFM. These co-brands are expected to dispense with the older identities, as demonstrated by the trademark applications lodged by SCA.
Fox FM transmits from the ATV-10 transmission tower on top of Mount Dandenong, Victoria, from a shared facility alongside radio stations Nova 100, Triple M, Gold 104.3, KIIS 101.1, SYN 90.7 and Triple R. Its base power is 10KW, and this is provided by a Harris HT10 FM transmitter.
The station is simulcast on Digital Radio in Melbourne.
Fox FM gradually grew from a top 40/pop format into a top 40/dance format over its history. Notable past announcers and programs have included Pillowtalk with Dr Sally Cockburn (Dr Feelgood), Danger: Low Brow with David Armstrong and Brett McLeod, net@nite with Andy Grace, Barry Bissell's Take 40 Australia, and ABCTV's Jodie J. Hill.
From 1995 to 1998, Fox FM broadcast the Martin/Molloy drive program with Tony Martin and Mick Molloy. This program was networked to over 50 stations around Australia, and is considered[by whom?] one of Australia's most successful FM radio shows.
For six years the breakfast shift was held by Tracy Bartram and Matt Tilley, using the title Tracy and Matt in the Morning. After a gradual increase in ratings, the pair secured the number one position for the Melbourne breakfast shift in the AC Nielson survey during 2001, beating traditional Melbourne number one station 3AW. Along with the rest of the station, Tracey and Tilley's ratings fell with the introduction of rival station Nova 100 into the market.
In 2003, Fox FM launched the The Matt & Jo Show, featuring Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley with Troy Ellis as anchor. The show has consistently won the FM breakfast time slot, beating closest rivals Hughesy & Kate at Nova 100 for over 7 years.[when?]
From 2006, Fox FM was home to Australia's most successful networked radio show ever, Hamish & Andy, starring Hamish Blake and Andy Lee. They finished their daily drive program on Friday 26 November 2010 and went onto broadcast a drive program on Mondays and a late morning program on Fox FM every day from Tuesday to Friday. Blake and Lee then went onto host Hamish & Andy's Happy Hour which aired at 3pm on weekdays. In July 2015, Blake and Lee will return to host drive.
It was announced on 4 October 2013 that The Matt & Jo Show would finish at the end of the year after hosting breakfast for the last 10 years.