Fran Kelly to return to ABC Radio National in weekend role

Australians will once again be able to wake up to the sound of veteran broadcaster Fran Kelly on ABC’s Radio National – this time in a weekend time slot.

Kelly, who left RN Breakfast two years ago after 17 years at the helm of the ABC’s flagship news program, will host RN’s Saturday Extra from 7am in 2024.

Earlier this year the national broadcaster declined to renew Kelly’s Friday-night ABC TV talkshow Frankly after one season.

“I look forward to coming back and reconnecting with that audience that I was so entwined with for 17 years,” Kelly said. “The gruelling schedule of RN Breakfast through the week was unsustainable after that long. It’s a time in my life for a bit of work–life balance, and I think this is a good way to do it.”

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Kelly, who will also continue to host The Party Room with Patricia Karvelas, said the Saturday show will see her engage with the topics she loves most – foreign affairs, politics, society, arts, and sport – albeit in a different way to a daily current affairs show.

“When this was proposed it just made sense to me,” she said. “I do love the engagement with the big ideas that are going on in the world right now and that’s what I will get a chance to do.

“We will be looking at the stories that are created in the news of the week, but try and get behind some of the shouting and work out what it is that people need to know.”

It comes amid a new Saturday lineup for RN in 2024, and also changes to some established programs.

The current host of Saturday Extra, Geraldine Doogue, will host a new international affairs show with Hamish Macdonald called Global Roaming. The program will focus on Asia-Pacific affairs and will air on Saturdays at 8.30am, 6pm Mondays and 5.30am Tuesdays.

Also in the new RN lineup announced on Monday, Norman Swan and Tegan Taylor’s Health Report will air at 9am Saturdays, and Jonathan Green’s Blueprint for Living will be heard at the new time of 1pm Saturdays and 10am Fridays.

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Earshot, ABC’s feature documentary program with Miyuki Jokiranta and Taku Mbudzi, will cease production of new episodes next year but continue to air episodes from its archive.

Counterpoint with Amanda Vanstone and Between the Lines with Tom Switzer will not be returning in 2024.

Beverly Wang will helm Stop Everything solo in 2024 with Benjamin Law stepping away to focus on screen commitments.

Cath Dwyer, the manager of ABC RN, said she was “thrilled” to have Kelly back on the RN airwaves to continue Saturday Extra as Doogue takes her next step.

“I’m also excited at the prospect of hearing Geraldine and Hamish each week exploring big issues and important stories and talking with big thinkers from around the globe,” Dwyer said. “I think listeners are in for a real treat.”

“I’d like to thank Amanda Vanstone and Benjamin Law for their contribution to RN, and for bringing their ideas and perspectives to RN’s audience and wish them both the very best for the future.”