New digital roles come at the cost of redundancies, as a handful of favourite broadcasters are forced out of the lineup.

ABC Classic FM’s increased focus on digital platforms is seeing a shakeup at the station, with several new roles being created. “We really do need to put some more resources into our digital content because that’s the way the audience is going, that’s the way the world is going,” ABC Classic FM Content Manager Richard Buckham told Limelight when the station announced its 2018 lineup last week.

“These will be editorial roles,” the station told Limelight. “We propose to add two more roles to our current digital team, creating a content-making team of four, working across digital production, online editorial and website development, social media and podcasting, including outreach and events arising from our podcasts.”

However, as part of the changes moving into 2018, Limelight has learned that a total of six redundancies have been proposed by ABC management. In addition to Phillip Sametz, Graham Abbott and Keys to Music producer Ngaire Duffield, three more redundancies have been slated. “There are three presenters who have not been on air throughout 2017, who have not been assigned programs for 2018,” ABC Classic FM told Limelight when contacted about the changes. “We are consulting with them about their future at the ABC and this process is ongoing.”

While a Tweet from Graham Abbott announcing the cancellation of his educational programme Keys to Music suggested he had only been informed of the changes that day, the station told Limelight: “All presenters were notified in advance of the public announcement about planned changes to the 2018 lineup.”

The announcement of ABC Classic FM’s 2018 line-up has prompted plenty of discussion online, with many listeners saddened by the news that Keys to Music won’t be returning in the new year.

“The ABC’s obsession with acquiring a younger audience continues,” wrote Jane Manthorpe on Limelight’s Facebook. “Shocking loss of Keys To Music. With the lack of music education in schools now it really filled a huge gap.”

Members of the music community have also chimed in, replying to Abbott’s announcement of Keys to Music’s cancellation on Twitter. “@ABCClassic – sad news Graham. Poor decision from ABC management. Will be sorely missed on the radio,” Tweeted composer Paul Stanhope.

“Thanks for the music @GrahamAClassic! It has been an incredible program and will be a big loss for @ABCClassic FM. Onto bigger things?” wrote guitarist Matt Withers.

Composer Gordon Kerry wrote “Sorry to hear that! To be replaced by…?”

Others listeners lamented the absence of Phillip Sametz from the 2018 lineup. “I’m very disappointed to hear Phillip Sametz has been dropped,” wrote Olivia Harman on Limelight‘s Facebook. “I thoroughly enjoy listening to him on my drive in to work and will miss him! I think dropping the hour-long interviews is a mistake as well. That was always very interesting. Boo to both changes!”

Christopher Lawrence’s move from Drive to Weekend Breakfast came as a dissapointment to some listeners. Greta Mack wrote on ABC Classic FM’s Facebook, “Surly [sic] I can’t drive home without Christopher he always talks so nicely to me after work and makes the world a better place.”

While the majority of comments were critical of the changes, not everyone was disappointed. “I like these changes. But no word about the truly abysmal online Music Listings,” commented Jack Hogan on ABC Classic FM’s Facebook post.  

“’Russell Torrance will present Classic Breakfast in 2018, in an extended slot that will air from 6am-10am’ Great news!” wrote Ronson Dalby.

“Waking up to Russell’s lovely voice and accent will be no hardship,” wrote Jenny Kirkby, “and it will be very pleasant to have Christopher Lawrence back in my mornings, too.”