ARN ‘can’t see fit’ for ‘dumped’ Robin Bailey at Triple M; Triple M sets focus on Merrick Watts’ Sydney drive show

Australian Radio Network national content director, Duncan Campbell, has been dismissive of presenter Robin Bailey joining rival Southern Cross Austereo’s Triple M breakfast team in Brisbane following her “dumping” from ARN’s 97.3FM.

Robin Bailey joins Triple M in Brisbane

Robin Bailey joins Triple M in Brisbane

Speaking with Mumbrella following the results of the final survey of 2016 being made public, Campbell, admitted he didn’t “see the fit” for Bailey into Triple M’s breakfast team of Greg Martin and Ed Kavalee.

“It’s very much at odds with the Triple M format and their content offering, up against Formula 1, cricket and NRL. I just don’t see the fit but maybe I’m missing something,” Campbell said.

He said he was not concerned Bailey would take some of 97.3FM’s audience with her – 97.3FM finished the year with an audience share of 13.1% while Triple M had a breakfast share of 8.9%.

“She wasn’t on the station for three of the five weeks. The station brand is strong and it doesn’t rely on one day, part or one person, and that’s been demonstrated today,” Campbell said.

Mike Fitzpatrick:

Mike Fitzpatrick: We took the opportunity to grab 97.3FM’s Robin Bailey

It was a suggestion that did not faze Triple M’s head of content, Mike Fitzpatrick, who suggested ARN “should focus on their own shows”.

Of Bailey, Fitzpatrick said: “For whatever reason, 97.3 left her go and we’ve seen that opportunity and we’ll bring some of those men from 97.3 over to Triple M. So I predict next year will be a much better year for Triple M Brisbane.”

Meanwhile, in Sydney, SmoothFM lost its FM crown, slipping to second place after its Monday to Sunday share slumped by 0.9 points from 9.7% in survey seven to 8.8% in the most recent survey, eight.

ARN’s WSFM claimed third place overall in the FM heap, boosting its share by 1.4 points from 6.9% to 8.3%.

Duncan Campbell:

Duncan Campbell: “We’ve seen the resurgence of WSFM off the back of our counter-programming”

For Campbell, survey eight was proof of his claims about SmoothFM in Sydney being “overcooked“.

As I have been predicting all year, the Smooth result in Sydney was overinflated, the softening of that station begun last survey and continues this survey with nearly a whole point drop, and we’ve seen the resurgence of WSFM off the back of our counter-programming,” he said. 

“WF was number 3 FM in Sydney and I expect that will be back to number 2 in quarter one next year. That returns our two stations to that duo-polity, number one and number two FM – which we’re looking for.”

Paul Jackson:

Paul Jackson: Smooth in Sydney could repeat 2016 success next year

Nova Entertainment group program director, Paul Jackson, said SmoothFM could grab back its number one position in survey one of 2017.

“There’s a great chance; we’ve won four out of eight surveys this year, we can do at least that next year,” he said.

Jackson was unconcerned WSFM was closing the gap on Smooth.

“I’m just focusing on Smooth’s number. How we’ll go next year, I think we’ll continue to be a way bit ahead of them,” he said.

Over at Triple M, the station is set to shake up its Sydney drive show, shifting national drive program Merrick and Australia, featuring Merrick Watts and a rotating cast of co-hosts, to a local Sydney drive show to better fit in with Triple M’s sport-focus.

Merrick Watts

Merrick Watts to focus drive show on Sydney

SCA’s Fitzpatrick said: “We have a very successful local drive show in Melbourne with James and Billy, it’s number two 10+ in its time slot. We have a very successful drive show in Adelaide, which had another great survey this time around.

“We have Luke Bradman, who we’ve poached from Hot Tomato on the Gold Coast – and who’ll be joining Brisbane in a local drive show on Triple M next year.

“Local is really key for Triple M. We want Merrick to focus on Sydney, it’s his strongest market and it’s where it needs the most attention in drive; he really resonates in that market.

“The problem with any national show, if you’re doing a lot of generic content you can sound a bit beige, especially when there are more successful drive shows doing that stuff. Kate, Tim and Marty are an excellent drive show that does great material across the markets without being biased. Hamish & Andy the same.

“When it comes to Triple M, we have a natural sport gene in our DNA so it’s very hard to deliver engaging male content and not talk about sport and there’s such a big gap between the northern and eastern sports when it comes to sporting codes.

“By focusing on a local show we’ll be able to integrate sport better.”

Fitzpatrick once again said Triple M “wasn’t quite sure” if the show would continue with a revolving co-host but it was “unlikely” for Merrick to have a co-host for the full two-hours of the drive program.

“Merrick can hold his own, much like someone like Ben Fordham on 2GB. It’s quite a different show but it’s his show and he’s the centre of that and he has lots of guests through it so we’ll probably run with a format that’s very similar to that,” he said.

In Melbourne, Nova Entertainment’s SmoothFM claimed second place in overall share amongst the FM stations with a share of 9%, behind FoxFM’s share of 10.6% and ahead of Gold’s share of 8.6% which ARN’s Campbell argued was also due to “inflated numbers”.

“We’ve seen Smooth jump in Melbourne as we did in Sydney – and again, any research that we do shows that again is not a real figure and won’t be sustained,” he said.

Campbell admitted KiisFM in Melbourne is not where ARN wants the show to be.

kiis melbourne logo

“We’re aware of the issues there and we’ve got some plans for next year,” he said.

In Melbourne KiisFM had a total Monday to Sunday audience share of 6%, behind Nova on 6.4% while Fox FM won the market with a share of 10.6%.

“Fox is a little bit out in front there but Nova and Kiis – with a 6.4 and a 6, we’re remaining relatively competitive with Nova. In terms of that second and third place, it’s still very much up for grabs,” Campbell said.


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