Howcroft said that as a regular listener he was honoured to replace Burns, and has often daydreamed of having a full-time job in radio.
“It’s daunting,” he said. “It’s such a significant medium. Obviously the [segment] Rumour File is world famous. But it’s the conversation, isn’t it. The light and shade. John has done a brilliant job. The rhythm of the show, the tone of it.”
Howcroft has worked with 3AW before – as a summer fill-in about nine years ago. The six-hour weekend timeslot featured plenty of outside broadcasts and was “a lot of fun”.
“I bring a deep passion for our beautiful city,” he said. “I understand it. I enjoy conversations with strangers. My mother smiles and waves and talks to people she doesn’t know. So I learned that from the beginning. And of course the radio medium lets you do that en masse.”
Prior to joining PwC, Howcroft was an executive general manager at Network 10 for four years. He will continue to be a panellist on Gruen and will also retain his position as the chair of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
“I’ve worked around the world and had some pretty interesting experiences,” he said. “I’ve been on arts boards, sports boards, business boards and written a couple of books. It’s a collection of all those experiences that I can bring into the studio and have a great conversation.”
As for the early mornings he will soon endure at 3AW, Howcroft says he isn’t worried – he operates best during the early hours.
“Ross assures me everything will be fine,” he said of his new co-host. “You get out of bed, get in the car and go and do it. Use all that energy that live radio brings. You can’t not be energised by it. [But] all feedback is welcomed. I obviously want to be as good as I can possibly be.”
Burns announced in 2019 that he would soon retire from radio. “I’ve had 20 of the most fun and fruitful years of my life here and am looking forward to my next chapter with 3AW,” he said at the time.
The experienced broadcaster and former lawyer is expected to hang up the headphones in early August, which coincides with his 75th birthday. His sign-off date was also originally planned to coincide with the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Broede Carmody is a culture reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald