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Monday, November 9, 1998 Published at 18:11 GMT


MacKenzie's battle of the airwaves

It's good to talk: Kelvin MacKenzie hopes for a perfect reception

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has moved onto Britain's airwaves by taking over national station Talk Radio.

The new chairman and chief executive of the network announced his arrival by promising a complete overhaul of the station's programmes - with the breakfast show first in his sights.

He said: "Our most significant opportunity lies in the breakfast show.

"If we can capture a sense of excitement and a sense of humour it will work, and we will see our audience go up."

Motivate staff

The show is currently hosted by Channel 5 news presenter Kirsty Young - who has been away from the programme for weeks because of her TV commitments.

Mr MacKenzie's TalkCo consortium bought the station from previous owner CLT in a £24.7m deal.

His backers include Rupert Murdoch's News International.

He said: "Our immediate priority is to motivate the staff and sort out the programming.

"We have set up a programming group which will completely review scheduling and contents in the coming weeks."

5Live in his sights

He is gearing himself up for a showdown with BBC Radio 5Live, which currently has over double Talk Radio's 2.3m listeners.

He intends to challenge it for rights to sporting fixtures.

[ image: One of Mr MacKenzie's innovations at Live TV: The weather in Norwegian]
One of Mr MacKenzie's innovations at Live TV: The weather in Norwegian
"Sport is definitely something we are interested in, but you have to remember we are up against the BBC," he said.

"Its power as the public broadcaster means it has millions to spend on buying up commercial rights, but that is something we are hoping to do something about."

Mr MacKenzie made his name as editor of The Sun from 1981-1994, but jumped ship from the Murdoch empire after a short spell at BSkyB to join the Mirror Group's cable service Live TV.

Among his innovations there were News Bunny, who would appear on screen and gesture his opinions on the day's events, and weather forecasts in Norwegian.

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