ARN’s Duncan Campbell on the final results of 2021 and the network’s strategy for 2022

After the final metro radio ratings of 2021 dropped, Mumbrella's Emma Shepherd caught up with ARN national content director, Duncan Campbell, to celebrate the network remaining as the market leader and details of the new podcast broadcast strategy that will rollout in 2022.

The final radio ratings for 2021, survey eight landed, and following in 2020’s footsteps, ARN have closed out the year as the country’s #1 national network.

“This is an extraordinary result for the network, two years where it’s been #1 which is fantastic,” ARN’s chief content director, Duncan Campbell tells Mumbrella. “The other highlight would be 97.3 in Brisbane becoming #1 overall station. That was something we were trying to accomplish for quite some time. The new content director Alley Longhurst certainly progressed that much faster than we thought was possible. The duopoly in Sydney, which has always been strong, with Kyle & Jackie O remaining #1FM in breakfast, and WSFM’s Jonesy & Amanda #2FM.”

ARN national content director, Duncan Campbell (pictured)

KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O breakfast duo saw a bump of 0.1 points to a 10.8% share, but still sit well behind Nine Radio’s 2BG offering with Ben Fordham which had 18.5%.

Survey eight took place from 26 September to 4 December, which, for the majority of the survey, saw Sydney out of heavy lockdowns.

When we probe Campbell on whether he expects Kyle & Jackie O take retake the #1 spot back off 2GB’s Fordham again, like the duo did in survey four, he admits: “With complete respect to Ben [Fordham] in AM I don’t think there is too much competition there, whereas FM has a lot more competition, but anything is possible.

“That combination of statistical variation, and dairies being places in the right place, along with good PR and marketing backing the show, then Kyle & Jackie O could definitely take that #1 spot back. For Kyle & Jackie O to overtake 2GB and sustain that for a long period of time would be an incredible feat, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen any time soon.”

As for how Kyle & Jackie O feel about survey eight, Campbell explains the radio duo could not be more “passionate” about the work that they do at the station.

“They both take the ratings very seriously, and are very passionate about the show. Despite some of the comments to the media historically, they ‘re very passionate about what they do, and if they were to lose the #1FM crown, I know they would be very upset about it. They were blown away when they took over Fordham, many thought it wouldn’t happen, but it did happen and it was a great achievement,” he admits.

KIIS 1065 – Kyle & Jackie O (pictured)

Meanwhile, WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda saw a considerable rise in audience share, with a 1.2 percentage point bump to a 9.1% share. Last survey the radio duo had a share of 7.9%.

“We have done a lot of research into these formats, and we know that the WSFM format is very strong against our competitors,” says Campbell. This year we did some very effective marketing, and I think one of the best campaigns I’ve seen in a long time. The diary methodology is based on recall, and top-of-mind is key.”

He adds: “We were able to elevate that brand to be top-of-mind with listeners through effective marketing. Obviously, we know that the product is very solid, and strong, so it was a combination of those two that meant that it grew throughout the year. I also think Jonesy & Amanda have never sounded better.

“This year, they gelled really well. WSFM’s content director, Mike Byrne and the team, with Phill O’Neil on mornings, and Steve Fitten on drive. They have all done a great job in delivering the format to the audience, and clearly they’ve responded.”

In drive, KIIS 101.1 with Will & Woody was up 1.6 percentage points to 6.8% – representing the biggest gain in market.

“It’s the closest it’s ever been between Will & Woody and Nova ‘s drive show with Kate, Tim and Joel. Nova was #1 by just 0.3 points,” Campbell admits. “ I think the boys have really come into their own, and became a bit more strategic towards the end of last year and have really focused this year on the content they deliver. They’re now very relaxed, being together now for a number of years, but they’re also more confident too, without being arrogant.”

Christian O’Connell and Gold are leading the FM revival in Melbourne

Looking at Melbourne, ARN’s Gold 104.3 ended the year on top of the FM station pile, again despite a 0.8 percentage point drop to 10.1% overall, with Christian O’Connell again winning FM breakfast.

O’Connell’s flagship breakfast show has dipped for the second successive book, now sitting at 8%, after dropping from 9.4% to 8.6% in survey seven.

Campbell says: “Christian O’Connell is very strong, and his style of radio has been welcomed by Melbourne, and I never get any negative comment about him or his show, and the content. There’s personal connections being made everyday on that show.

“The station overall is a strong station. We’ve got a strong music foundation, with the head of music, Jason Staveley, a master of sizzling music to create a journey for listeners throughout the hours. It’s a strong, solid station which is very consistent, backed by a strong strategy. I think 2022 will be another great year for the station as well. It’s been a great year for Gold all-around, too.”

Meanwhile, in Brisbane, 97.3FM topped the radio ratings for people 10+ with 11.2%, up 0.2 points from the previous survey.

For breakfast, the top station was 4KQ’s Laurel, Gary & Mark with 12% of share, which is unchanged from survey seven. The second-highest station was 97.3FM’s Robin & Terry with 11.2%, up 0.9 points.

“It’s been a long and challenging road to get back to #1, Robyn left us and we had some struggles there with the station, and then Robyn returned, and we didn’t get the traction that we wanted initially, which is no fault of hers,” Campbell explains. “We worked really hard this year, and when we put Ally Longhurst in as the new content director, she’s really made it her personal focus to get the station back to #1, and it happened much quicker than I thought it would.”

“It’s fantastic from a company point-of-view to have 97.3 as the #1 station in Brisbane again, and also for the station to be #1 in breakfast, as well. It’s a credit to Longhurst and her team, and I’m delighted with the results today in Brisbane, also with 4KQ, to be the #2 station. We’ve got ourselves a duopoly in Brisbane of a #1FM station and a #1AM station, and the AM station isn’t a talk station so it’s extraordinary,” explains Campbell.

4KQ had good gains overall and on the Laurel, Gary and Mark breakfast show (pictured)

Looking at Adelaide, ABC Adelaide finished on top overall in the final radio ratings survey, on the back of Ali Clarke’s strong performing breakfast show, who quit on Friday.

The move drops ARN’s Mix 102.3 to second spot (down 0.6 percentage points), but it still remains the number one FM station for the 14th consecutive survey on 10.9%.

“Mix is a very strong station. We’ve got some minor issues there with breakfast, which has been on the decline there for a few surveys now, but we’re working on that for next year. The station has suffered a little bit as well, but we’re very happy that the station being the #1 station in Adelaide. Cruise is also quite steady, so Mix and Cruise is a great combination for us in Adelaide,” he admits.

As for where to next for the ARN network in 2022, Campbell says he’s excited to roll out a new podcast/broadcast strategy, which sees selected podcasters join radio shows.

“In 2022, we’ll be focusing on the radio and podcasting side of our business very strongly again, and we’ll hopefully see the benefits of the podcast/broadcast strategy come into play, and see more podcasters on radio shows, which will be very interesting to watch,” he says. “There’s a pool of talent in podcasting that I think will be great on radio, so I’m very excited for what we’ll bring in 2022.”

“We have built this network based on being very consistent, and executing our strategy very consistently at a local level. We’ve now got this momentum behind us, which is great, combining that with the #1 podcast in the country,” concludes Campbell.


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