Kate Ritchie won’t be working full-time at Nova FM‘s Fitzy and Wippa despite another woman losing her job so she could join the Sydney breakfast show.
A Nova spokesperson has confirmed Ritchie will be on air from 7am to 9am.
The first hour of the program will only feature co-hosts Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald and Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli and newsreader Matt De Groot.
While Ritchie isn’t the first breakfast radio host to work a reduced schedule, her later start and ten-hour work week has raised eyebrows among radio insiders.
Industry professionals on the Media Spy forums called the move ‘ridiculous’ after Fitzy and Wippa’s long-serving co-anchor Sarah McGilvray, who worked standard breakfast radio hours, was pushed out to make way for Ritchie.
Kate Ritchie (pictured in the Nova FM studio on Monday) won’t be working full-time at Fitzy and Wippa despite another woman losing her job so she could join the breakfast show
A Nova representative said Ritchie starting at 7am instead of 6am reflects the ‘different audience’ for the first hour of breakfast radio – a demographic of early starters, including tradies, known in the industry as ‘six o’clockers’.
‘The 6am to 7am hour has a very different audience and feel, and Fitzy & Wippa’s 6am club is very popular with their loyal listeners who are early risers,’ the spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The addition of a new high-profile voice from 7am to 9am is nothing new to radio and has been extremely successful with Mick Molloy and Sam Pang great examples of the popularity of this approach, and Nova 919’s own Jodie & Haysey starting at 7am after Ben, Liam & Belle in Adelaide.
‘We plan to deliver everything that Fitzy & Wippa’s audience have loved about the show over the past 12 years with the addition of something new with Kate joining the team each morning.’
A Nova spokesperson confirmed Ritchie (centre) will be on air from 7am to 9am. The first hour will only feature co-hosts Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald (left) and Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli (right)
McGilvray’s brutal exit from Fitzy & Wippa was finally acknowledged on Monday, four weeks after she vanished from the airwaves.
McGilvray spent 12 years working for the Nova 96.9 breakfast show, eight of those in front of the microphone, before being pushed out to make way for Ritchie, who was drafted in from the network’s national drive show.
Co-hosts Fitzgerald and Wipfli paid tribute to their long-time colleague on Monday – their first day on air with Ritchie as a presenter.
While they were no doubt being sincere in wishing their mate well, one remark came across as painfully awkward in light of the circumstances of McGilvray’s exit.
Wipfli urged McGilvray to ‘stay in the radio game’, which felt like a hollow gesture given the fact she was pushed out of her job by Nova management.
Sarah McGilvray’s brutal exit from Fitzy & Wippa was finally acknowledged on Monday by her former co-hosts Fitzgerald and Wipfli
McGilvray (pictured) spent 12 years working for the Nova 96.9 breakfast show, eight of those in front of the microphone, before being pushed out to make way for Ritchie
‘Guys, we wanted to have a chat here because with the announcement on Friday that we made about the show, the excitement of Kate Ritchie joining, it’s clear that Sarah, who has worked with us for the past ten years, has left the show,’ Wipfli began.
‘So we wanted to say a couple of words just to acknowledge that and also thank Sez. She has been a huge part of the show for the past ten years, and as a colleague and a friend even more, we want to say that we love her to pieces and she’s given everything to this show.
‘We hope she stays in the radio game.’
Fitzgerald went on to say McGilvray had started as a producer before stepping in front of the microphone and helping create some ‘amazing moments’ on the show.
He recounted his ‘favourite Sar moment’ when the Fitzy and Wippa team was in LA on a work trip and they saw Leonardo DiCaprio having a cigarette ’round the back of their hotel’ and McGilvray tried – and failed – to get a photo with him.
‘We talk about it to this day. Those memories will stick with me forever, Sarah. I love you to death,’ he added.
Wipfli concluded: ‘So we say thank you, Sez. We know you’re great at the radio game. We hope you stick with it, and we wish you all the best.’
Nova confirmed in a statement last Friday that Ritchie would be joining Fitzgerald and Wipfli on their Sydney breakfast show from March 13.
‘I am so excited to be joining Fitzy and Wippa in the very competitive breakfast slot,’ Ritchie said.
‘I’m a huge fan of the show and I’ve been great mates with the boys for years. The past eight years on drive has been an important part of my life but I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge by returning to breakfast radio in my hometown.
‘I can’t wait to wake up Sydneysiders beside two of the industry’s much-loved breakfast announcers.’
Fitzgerald and Wipfli added: ‘We’ve been annoying Kate around the office for over ten years; now we get to do it every morning.
‘We are excited for our audience to hear how funny Kate thinks we are. Nova listeners have always loved Kate and now she’ll be served up every weekday. Please enjoy your breakfast.’
The announcement came a day after Ricki-Lee Coulter was confirmed as Ritchie’s replacement on the Kate, Tim and Joel national drive show.
Fitzgerald and Wipfli’s long-time co-anchor McGilvray (second right) faced a ‘brutal’ exit when Nova management needed a role for Ritchie after her afternoon position became untenable
Ritchie had been absent from the afternoon slot for months, during which time she entered a rehab facility for alcohol dependency.
Over on breakfast, McGilvray faced a ‘brutal’ exit from the Fitzy & Wippa show to make way for Ritchie, with Nova FM staff speaking of their ‘shock’ and ‘confusion’ over her sudden exit.
Current and former employees of the radio station told Daily Mail Australia they were blindsided by news McGilvray was being pushed aside, with some only learning about it via the press two weeks ago.
One staffer said her departure was ‘brutal’ for someone who had ‘given a decade of her life’ to a radio show and was popular with listeners, adding she was ‘tossed aside without so much as a proper goodbye’.
‘The guys at Nova are baffled. Most people didn’t even find out until the stories broke. They had all been asking, “Where is Sarah?” and were confused,’ another said.
McGilvray worked on Fitzy and Wippa for 12 years, spending eight of those as a co-host alongside Fitzgerald and Wipfli. Before that, she was a senior producer.
McGilvray worked on Fitzy and Wippa for 12 years, spending eight of those as a co-host alongside Fitzgerald and Wipfli. Before that, she was a senior producer
Her exit came after a blow-up with management about her role at the network.
A source with knowledge of the discussion said McGilvray was ‘upset and angry’ at her bosses for effectively taking her job away from her by bringing in Ritchie as a third host.
Nova execs apparently tried to offer her a ‘consolation deal’ that would see her take on a ‘managerial-type role’ within the company, but she rejected it and walked out.