The Gold Coast’s Hot Tomato radio station will be merged into ARN’s metro structure, shifting it away from its current positioning within ARN Regional.

ARN acquired the station along with 45 others when it purchased regional broadcaster Grant Broadcasters.

At the time of the acquisition, ARN assured the various affected local markets that the stations would remain live and local, including maintaining their own staffing, line-ups and unique branding.

ARN issued similar assurances today, saying “listeners will continue to enjoy relevant, localised content for the Gold Coast, with no changes being made to the on-air line-up of talent or programming”.

Long-serving general manger, Graham Miles, however, will step down as a result of the restructure, ending his 49-year career in radio.

From Sep. 1, Miles will move into a transitional role supporting the Hot Tomato integration and other key business initiatives, before finishing with ARN in early December.

Miles was positive about the change, saying it is “without a doubt” the best business decision for Hot Tomato and where the station needs to be.

“Being integrated with the metropolitan properties is a strong message that we see the Gold Coast as filling its rightful sport as the sixth largest city in the country,” he said.

“Having the ability to resource the metropolitan facilities of ARN is treating the market with great respect, and I look forward to working with the team at ARN to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

ARN said the strategic move will benefit commercial clients with greater access to national sales opportunities, ease of executing network promotions and extended multi-platform content opportunities.

ARN’s CEO, Ciaran Davis, said the decision followed a lengthy review process, which revealed that Hot Tomato’s operating model and the market scale of the Gold Coast is more aligned to ARN’s metro strategy.

“The Gold Coast is currently Australia’s sixth largest city with a population of over 630,000 people; Hot Tomato’s annual revenues are similar to our Adelaide and Perth markets; and the Gold Coast is GfK surveyed for 30 weeks a year. It makes sense to operate the station alongside the other capital cities and extend its highly valuable audience to our clients in the same way they enjoy access to our other metro markets,” he said.

He also offered reassurances to other ARN Regional brands and thanked Miles for his contributions.

“It is important to note these changes are unique to the Gold Coast market. The current structure of ARN’s regional business works effectively in other markets, and we do not intend to change this,” he said.

“With 20 years’ experience running Hot Tomato, and a total of nearly 50 years in radio (working for ARN amongst other networks), Graham’s perspective was an important consideration, and he was a key part of this decision. I thank him for the highly constructive and professional way he has engaged with us during these discussions.”

In addition to Miles’ departure, the structural changes mean the local leaders will now report into the national functional leads across ARN.

This will see Graeme Tawyer, sales director, reporting into Nick Flood, the national commercial director for direct and independent agencies.

Brendan ‘Whippy’ Dangar, content director for Hot Tomato, will report into Duncan Campbell, chief content officer.

Matt McDonald, news director, will report to Monique Dews, acting national news director for ARN.

Justin Williams, marketing and promotions manager, will report to Claire Murphy, ARN’s head of brand and promotions.

And Deidre Wilson, finance manager, will report to Cara White, acting regional finance manager.