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    Meet Megan Burslem, a breakfast radio host you’ve (possibly) never heard of

    It’s probably fair to say not many Mediaweek readers know too much about Megan Burslem and ABC Classic breakfast.

    In a year where Kyle and Jackie O have been a focus as they move into other markets, Burslem broadcasts live on ABC Classic from 6am until 10am nationally five days a week.

    She’s adding a TV hosting role to her CV next week as she co-presents Classic 100 in Concert on June 29.

    For her radio show, Burslem arrives around 5.30am at the ABC Melbourne studios, next door to where Patricia Karvelas host RN Breakfast. The ABC Classic breakfast team includes Burlsem, a producer and a music programmer.

    It’s a very different product, of course, to all commercial radio breakfast shows – AM and FM. The obvious – there are no ads – except for ABC promos. There is more music than possibly any other breakfast radio station. Monday’s show included 36 separate pieces. All are lovingly detailed and time-coded for listeners to the podcast.

    After listening to lots of commercial radio breakfast shows, it seems a very gentle way to wake up.

    Meet Megan Burslem, a breakfast radio host you’ve (possibly) never heard of

    Burslem (top, centre) with the rest of the 2024 ABC Classic family

    How big an audience does Classic FM have?

    Over 300,000 every morning in metro markets only plus the audience listening to the podcast. The station ABC Classis has a metro audience of 769,000 with close to 300,000 in Sydney and over 200,000 in Melbourne. Source: GfK Survey 3, 2024.

    What’s on in ABC Classic Breakfast

    After the 6am ABC News, Megan Burslem takes control of the mic for 3 hours and 54 minutes every weekday morning. And it’s live. “We’re there with you every morning,” she replied to Mediaweek when asked if there was much radio trickery involved. “Only on a special occasion,” she added, perhaps an interview or performance prerecord.

    There’s news every hour plus breakfast staples like traffic and weather. Every state gets a local news bulletin.

    The demand for traffic updates indicates many of the audience are commuters. “A lot of people are on the move at that time of day, moving from home to work, and they’re commuting with us using the ABC Listen app.

    “Our biggest audience seems to be working parents and we’re part of their morning routine. We’re providing them a calming environment, moments of clarity for families.”

    The breakfast podcast is the way some listen. Burslem was quick to point out the Classic brand offers more than just her own program: “ABC Classic has a range of podcasts that are really interesting. We’ve got short ones, we’ve got longer ones, we’ve got musical shows, film music, game music.

    “In addition to key programs like Breakfast and Drive, we have Passenger, which is a program that takes you to different musical cultures around the world.”

    Burslem plays a range of composers who are household names. But also a mix of what some might call more obscure delights. Plus a huge range of Australian contemporary music.

    “Breakfast is about having fun. So we play Scottish reels and we play Swedish folk song and all sorts of music that is maybe not what you think of when you hear the term classical.”

    There is plenty of live audience feedback each morning via a text line.

    How do you score a gig hosting on ABC Classic?

    Dr Burslem explained: “I was doing a PhD in musicology. I was a classically trained viola player. I thought, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a classical musician. It’s not for me.

    A friend of mine suggested I should be on radio. I kind of laughed him off.

    “Eventually I thought, that’s a good idea. I emailed ABC Classic and said, are you looking for anyone? And they said, yeah, we are.

    “A few weeks later, I was on air. I started on night music, which is our overnight program.

    “That lasted for around three months. I moved around for a few shows. I spent two years at ABC Jazz presenting mornings. Then it was back on to drive for a year on Classic.”

    Burslem has been hosting ABC Classic breakfast since the start of 2023.

    See also: ABC appoints ARN’s Emily Copeland as head of music across six platforms

    ABC Classic 100 2024 infographic

    What’s the Classic 100?

    Since 2001, the ABC’s Classic 100 poll has asked listeners to vote for the music they love, and then counted down the results over one dedicated weekend.

    For the 2024 poll, 120,231 votes were cast in Australia’s biggest classical music poll. From classical music for the stage to music for the screen, there were votes cast for a total of 899 individual works.

    The ABC reported more women than men voted in 2024 – 61% – with another 35% of voters being male. There was 4% self-describing as non-binary or preferring not to say.

    The majority of voters said they were 65 or older, but people of all ages voted. ABC Classic noted the music of Bluey has been building a new generation of classical music fans.

    The Classic 100 archive across the years. They have an impressive graphic design studio.

    Classic 100 Concert on ABC TV

    Burslem explained: “For the past two years ABC Classic has staged a concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing the works that people voted for and featuring the instruments that people voted for.

    “This year, the theme was Feel Good. It was all about music that makes you feel good, which is uplifting anthems, all those kinds of things.

    “The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is performing live a TV broadcast with conductor Ben Northey.”

    The Classic 100 in Concert, premieres Saturday, June 29th at 7:30pm, on ABC TV. It is also being live-streamed on ABC iview and simulcast on ABC Classic.

    Co-presenting the special with Megan Burslem is Jeremy Fernandez.

    The post Meet Megan Burslem, a breakfast radio host you’ve (possibly) never heard of appeared first on Mediaweek.

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