Fight For 95bFM's Wallace Gains Popular Support
The 'Secure Wallace At 95bFM' Contingent Launches Website
By Selwyn Manning
The controversy over at Auckland radio station 95bFM over the dumping of its popular breakfast host, Wallace Chapman in favour of broadcaster Mikey Havoc, has intensified with the launch of a website titled bringbackwallace.com .
The website has fast become the place for people to air their views on bFM management's style and direction. The site is promoting a petition to " Bring Back Wallace ". And states: " We, the listeners of 95bFM would like to voice our displeasure at the unceremonious dumping of Wallace Chapman from the breakfast show. We believe that Wallace is quite possibly the best breakfast show host the station has ever had."
Wallace Chapman resigned his DJ position at 95bFM after the station's management decided to take Wallace out of his breakfast show slot and replace him with station-long-timer, Mikey Havoc. Havoc has been hosting the drive-time afternoon slot since vacating his 10 to midday show in 2005.
The announcement divided those loyal to 95bFM as was succinctly reported by Damien Christie in his Cracker piece over at Public Address.
The Bringbackwallace.com website issued a release today stating: "Infamous Kiwis are lining up to support out-going bFM Breakfast host Wallace Chapman. The Tutts, Chris Knox, Kate Sylvester, The Mad Butcher Peter Leitch, Joel Tobeck, Thane Kirby, Patrick Reynolds, Johnny Brough, Stacey Gregg, Damian Christie and Simon Coffey are among the more than 700 bFM listeners who have signed a petition to reinstate Wallace as the b’s Breakfast host. " For more see… bFM listeners get behind Wallace
Wallace told Scoop today that he hasn't been behind the campaign to have him reinstated at 95bFM: "I've been keeping my distance from it. To be honest I've been a bit freaked out by the support and response."
He said the vibe at 95bFM has got "edgy" although clearly he remains a loyal bFMer. For example, Wallace said he feels for Mikey Havoc (who has remained silent over the issue), and insists the problem is not about Mikey but about how 95bFM management went about announcing its changes.
This view is backed by Damien Christie, who for a short time was 95bFM's director of news. Christie wrote: "Mikey Havoc is not the problem, he's a symptom. The problem lies with the management, specifically at board level. My opinion is that the station would be in much better hands if it was being run by people with a history at bFM, people who were drawn to bFM because it stood for something…"
Last week, it had been suggested the breakfast show had suffered a ratings drop and that management were moving in to arrest a slide, that the whole affair was about 95bFM moving to be viable. Wallace however says: "I took over the (breakfast) show in November (2005). Ratings then came out in February 06. I'd only just got into the show…" He remains confident ratings expected to be released in November will prove to be positive: "But this ratings issue it is one that we can't really nail down at the moment."
Christie's Public Address piece led to Wallace issuing this statement: "I've been humbled by the feedback both here and at bFM so a response to listeners is fair.
"I had always imagined a bFM breakfast show that was extremely well researched, informative, a bit of malark, lots of laughs. Kind of a cool National Radio if you like. And for the last 9 months that's what it has been.
"The subject had informally surfaced that there were going to be big changes ahead on breakfast. So I pre-empted all this, and gave notice. I don't have a producer, rare for a busy morning show, and that was beginning to really affect my health.
"Management and the PD have a right to decide the future, and do what's best for the one and only 95bFM.
"Meanwhile I'll keep doing mornings on b like it's the best damn show in Auckland!" Wallace said.