Interview with Tom Elliott

25 October 2011

Written by: Erdem Koc

He may have big shoes to fill, but 3AW’s Tom Elliott is keeping rival stations on their toes.

In the latest radio ratings, Elliott gained a 1.4 point audience share in the drive-time slot which, since 2003, has usually been hosted by popular and controversial broadcaster, Derryn Hinch. The 13.4 point result closed in on Fox FM’s top-rating drive program with Fifi Box and Jules Lund, which dipped to 14.1.

‘In radio you live and die by your ratings’, says Elliott, who is pleased with the result.

‘For me it was pleasing because it shows that the audience knows me and is happy to listen to me.’

Elliott, 43, is hosting the slot until December 21, when Hinch will return to the airwaves. Hinch is serving a five-month home detention and media ban for breaching a suppression order that prohibited the naming of two sex offenders.

In his absence, Elliott says he has enjoyed hosting Drive, which he describes as ‘a punchy sort of show’.  However, Elliott admits he has had to put himself in a different mindset when he presents the weekday program.

Since October 2008, Elliott has hosted the Weekend Break, which airs during the AFL off-season.  Elliott says that 3AW Drive and the Weekend Break are ‘very different media’.

‘[With] the Weekend Break, the show goes for six hours; you’ve got plenty of time to discuss things, you keep it fairly light-hearted.’

‘With Drive obviously it is more issues and current affairs, and news driven. It has to be punchier and shorter [because] it’s only a two-hour show.’

This year, however, Elliott is sharing the Weekend Break duties with The Gruen Transfer’s Russel Howcroft, who presents the show on Saturday, while Elliott does Sunday.

Elliott’s radio-career began at Melbourne community station Triple R.

‘I started off in 1993 doing a semi-satirical look at the world of business on the breakfast show there, and I still do that segment 19 years later,’ he says.

However, Elliott’s work as a financial commentator has become widespread over the years, partly due to his work in the business world.

Elliott also works as chief investment officer at Melbourne private wealth management firm, Beulah Capital, and previously managed MM&E Capital as a hedge fund in Melbourne for 10 years.

He regularly appears on television programs such as Inside Business and The 7PM Project, and can be heard each weekday discussing financial matters on Mornings on 3AW with Neil Mitchell.  He also writes for the online investment publication, the Eureka Report.

Elliott says he has to plan his days carefully and be ‘very disciplined’ with his time to get everything done.

‘But I don’t take my work home with me, once I’m off in the evening, that’s it.’

In his spare time, Elliott enjoys spending time his fiancee Elise Mooney, who is a reporter with A Current Affair, and their daughter, Ava, who is almost two-years-old.

As the son of former Carlton Football Club and federal Liberal Party president, John Elliott, and former state Liberal MP, Lorraine Elliott, he admits at times it has been a challenge to develop his own image. But he says he doesn’t worry about ‘living in his parents’ shadow’.

‘If people ever want me to come and talk about my father or something like that, I don’t do it,’ he says.

‘I’m an individual. He’s an individual.’

Elliott, who was touted as a potential Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Higgins in 2009, says he has considered going into politics.

‘I love talking about [politics] but having seen it up close… I’m not certain at the moment that it’s really for me,’ he says.

‘I think you lose a lot of freedom when you are in politics.

‘I really enjoy the role I have as sort of a commentator on issues which allows me to say what I believe rather than having to follow what a party says.

‘But, you never say never. If the right opportunity came up at the right time, I still might consider doing it.’

Elliott also hasn’t ruled out becoming the permanent host of a program such as Drive if ever the opportunity arose.

‘I think you make the most of [opportunities] because you never know what’s going to happen in the world of media,’ he explains.

That’s why Elliott has always treated his involvement in radio ‘as a hobby’.

‘You never know, you could have a couple of bad ratings and surveys, and before you know it, you’re out,’ Elliott says with a chuckle.

The next round of Melbourne radio ratings will be announced on Monday, October 31.

Jackson Saunders is a first-year student studying the Bachelor of Sports Journalism at La Trobe University.