Neil Mitchell to leave 3AW after 33 years

Mitchell has occupied the 8.30am-12pm slot on the leading Melbourne radio station since 1990.

His retirement marks one of the most significant changes to the Melbourne radio landscape in years, coming a day after ABC competitor Virginia Trioli told listeners she was quitting radio.

Mitchell has become known for his agenda-setting show, with a dominant stranglehold over the morning timeslot, an average audience of 143,000 in the most recent radio survey, released on Tuesday.

In the same survey, he more than doubled the share of his closest competitor, growing from a 17.1 to 20.1 per cent overall share, while the station also boosted its overall share 2.1 points to 16.7 per cent, with breakfast duo Russel Howcroft and Ross Stevenson, also posting a 22.3 per cent share.

Drive host Tom Elliot is the favourite to be appointed Mitchell’s replacement.

Nine is the owner of 3AW and this masthead.

Mitchell has hosted Mornings on 3AW since 1990.

Mitchell has hosted Mornings on 3AW since 1990.Credit: Jason South

Mitchell, one of Nine’s highest-profile stars, told this masthead in August the network had made it clear they wanted him to stay on, having recently signed a six-month contract extension until the end of 2023.

Elliot has been 3AW’s drive host since 2013 and on Tuesday reclaimed the No.1 spot, with an 11.7 per cent share, and an average audience of 64,000.

Elliot’s show runs from 3pm to 6pm, while the ‘Drive’ ratings slot is measured between 4pm and 7pm.


Mitchell first joined 3AW in 1987 and was handed the Mornings show in 1990, which he has held since.

For the majority of his time on air, Mitchell’s closest rival was ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine, who stepped down from broadcasting in 2019 after 23 years in the same slot.

“It must have been very frustrating for him – 23 years without an opinion,” Mitchell said of his former competitor at the time.

The gap between Mitchell and his talkback competitors at the ABC has widened over the course of the past decade. Mitchell’s 20.1 per cent share in the fifth survey this year was unchallenged by Trioli’s 7.5 per cent share.


In 2014, Mitchell held a 14.4 per cent share, while Faine’s share sat at 12.7 per cent. During pandemic-impacted 2020 and 2021, Trioli and ABC Melbourne closed the gap between the stations, somewhat.

Mitchell has won a number of awards, including a Walkley Award in 2013 after breaking news live on air that Ford would stop manufacturing cars in Australia by 2016. He has also won eight Quill Awards, the Melbourne Press Club Journalist of the Year, several Australian Commercial Radio Awards as well as being made an officer of the Order of Australia.

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