MELBOURNE’S undisputed king of radio, Ross Stevenson, has signed a new long-term deal with 3AW.
Stevenson signed on the dotted line on Thursday after months of polite negotiation.
Under the deal, he will be waking Melbourne as host of the Ross and John breakfast show for at least the next five years — possibly more.
“It is a long-term contract but it has triggers in it that might make it go longer,” Stevenson, 61, said.
“It is long-term and how long will be determined by how much the radio station and I are in love with each other. We have been in love with each other for a long time, so it may be a long time.
“I am not trying to be coy but to me, in many respects, the show is there to be done (so) turn up and get on with it and don’t get distracted by other stuff.”
Stevenson has been with AW since 1990 and is Melbourne’s most powerful voice in the important breakfast shift.
He has won 135 radio surveys in a row and collected 206 survey wins in his time at AW.
Their Winx-like domination of the radio ratings race looks secure, with the most recent survey giving them an extraordinary 18.8 per cent share of the Melbourne audience.
Stevenson never takes his success or the AW audience for granted, noting that winning “beats the alternative”.
“I don’t have to motivate myself, I like talking, I like interacting with Burnso and the audience, and you feel like, well, if people are going to listen to you, you might as well make an effort and hope that they enjoy what they are hearing,” he said.
“A few months ago we were talking about words that have rain in them and a listener rang up called James and said ‘all my songs have got Reyne in them’, and I said ‘how could all your songs have rain in them?’ and he said ‘it’s my name, James Reyne.’ I said ‘what are you ringing in for?’ and he said ‘I am a listener.’
“You do from time to time forget people are listening, you are just talking.
“I continue to be amazed at how smart and funny they are (his audience) and how attuned they are to things we are doing and that they will be in on the joke.”
With Stevenson locked in for the long run, the station will next sit down with Burns to nut out his future. Burns is out of contract at the end of the year.
“I imagine he keeps doing it,” Stevenson said of his long-time on-air partner.
“We negotiate separate deals and he said last night now he will start talking about his deal.”
At a time in his life when most people are slowing down, Stevenson is scaling up his commitments.
He hosts the radio and TV versions of the food and travel show A Moveable Feast with Kate Stevenson (no relation) and he also hosts That’s Racing for Racing.com and Channel 7. In recent years he has established his Love Letter to Racing and Love Letter to Footy charity lunches.