ARN’s Duncan Campbell says, ‘radio is not dead’ as he chats survey 1 results

After the first GfK metro radio ratings of 2022 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 this year.

The first radio ratings for 2022, survey 1 landed, and following in 2021’s footsteps, ARN have kicked off the year as the country’s #1 national network.

“It gives us great confidence to start the year even better than we finished the last,” ARN’s chief content director, Duncan Campbell tells Mumbrella. “We have never wavered from our commitment to creating locally relevant content and quality connections with our audience and today we are #1FM in four out the five metro markets reaching a record number of listeners nationally with a cume of 5.468 million. The highlight is 96FM which is the #1 station in Perth.”

ARN chief content director,  Duncan Campbell. (Pictured)

ARN’s CEO Ciaran Davis continues: “2022 is another year of acceleration for ARN, and I’m very happy to kick it off as Australia’s top audio network of choice. We are the leaders in local and continue to be committed to delivering even more connections that count for our commercial partners. It has been a busy few months as we integrate our regional stations to the ARN family and develop a raft of nationally integrated opportunities for our commercial partners to leverage.”

In Sydney, KIIS FM’s Kyle & Jackie O saw a drop of 0.2 points to a 10.6% share. KIIS FM in People 10+ grew its audience share significantly from 8.3% to 8.8%, a bump of 0.5 percentage points.

“It’s there [Kyle & Jackie O’s] 25th consecutive survey at #1FM which is a fantastic start to the year. The cume is very high for them which is also a highlight. They have more listeners than any other breakfast show in Australia, which is great,” Campbell admits. “KIIS 106.5 in Sydney is one of the best contemporary hit radio stations in the world.”

Meanwhile, WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda remained steady with no change since survey eight, last December. The radio duo kept its share of 9.1%. WSFM in People 10+ dropped by 0.4 percentage points to 8.4%.

“WSFM, while it’s done very well, Jonesy & Amanda, as well, makes for a very strong duopoly for us, which is important for us in Sydney, and it’s just been a great way to kick off the new year,” explains Campbell. 

In Melbourne, Gold 104.3 was the, #1FM station for the 17th consecutive survey, and for Gold’s The Christian O’Connell Show took the win after ranking the #1FM breakfast show for the 14th consecutive survey, with KIIS 101.1 up across breakfast, morning, afternoon and drive.

“The Pure Gold Network would have to be one of the best classic hits stations in the world. It’s just a very strong radio station. It jumped up to 11.5% overall, as well as impressive results in afternoon, and in drive, and streets ahead of anyone else with double figures in FM. Gold is a powerhouse of a radio station, and full credit to Sue Carter, the content director, and Jason Staveley does music in Melbourne, he’s brilliant, and obviously Christian O’Connell, whose cume in breakfast is now 526,000, just shy of Fox on 529,000,” Campbell says.

“He’s a unique broadcaster. I know when he first came to Australia from the UK, people said he wouldn’t resonate with the Australian listeners, but he’s proved everyone wrong, and just goes from strength-to-strength, so it was an absolutely fantastic result this book. KIIS was also incredibly strong this survey, so the battle for us is to try and lift KIIS FM ratings up this year. We are really wanting to have the same strong duopoly as we have in Sydney.”   

KIIS FM’s Will & Woody. (Pictured)

In drive, KIIS 101.1 drive with Will & Woody up 1.4 to 8.2%. “Will & Woody on 101.1FM have been around and in that breakfast time slot for several years now, this is their second contract with us, people have become more familiar with the show, and they have proved a lot,” says Campbell. 

“They’ve done a lot of work on making sure they’re providing relatable content with the audience. As people become familiar with these two, they connect with them more, and more. They had a good result in Sydney, the #1FM station in drive, with a good uplift in Melbourne. They sit behind Nova nationally in drive, so we really want to get to #1. As cume comes back into music radio you’ll see that they’ll continue to improve, as well, we’re very happy as they’re very good for us commercially,” he admits.

In Perth, The #1 overall station was 96FM and the #2 overall breakfast show was The Bunch with Clairsy & Lis, who had the biggest gains in market. 96FM was up 2.9 to 13.6% – the biggest station gain in market. The Bunch with Clairsy & Lisa up 2.5 to 11.4% – the biggest breakfast gain in the market.

“We’ve been very strategic in Perth. We’ve been #2 several times now. We did get #1 back in 2020 briefly, but this is still a really good result for us for survey 1,” Campbell says. “To be ahead of Nova and also Mix 94.5, which is our main competitor, but I think things will settle down a little bit over the next couple of books, but it’s a great starting point for us, and it’s been our goal to be #1 in every market, and we got four out of the five markets today, so we’re hoping that we do better. We’ve done a lot more research in Perth, making sure we get the music right, so we’re hoping to see some positive changes in the next few surveys.” 

He adds: “I think the relaxing of the COVID restrictions has obviously had an impact on the ratings in terms of in-car listening. If you’re driving in Sydney and Melbourne during peak hour, we can see it’s pretty much back to pre-COVID levels. A lot more people are back in cars, which is good news for radio. What we’re seeing, too, is a settling back to talk stations, they still remain very strong, but they’re coming back into their normal range, and over this year we will see more of this occurring. The election will give them a bit of a spike as well, but then once that is over, we’ll see the talk stations settle back down to their normal range, and the return of the music radio will continue to grow in audience share.”

Mix 102.3’s The Ally Clarke Show Adelaide

In Adelaide, Mix 102.3 was the #1FM station for the 15th consecutive survey, up 0.3 to 11.2%, and Cruise1323 took the #2AM station.

“We’re very confident in this breakfast show. I think we have two of the highest profile women in this state, Ally Clarke and Erin Phillips. It’s not as much of an issue as it was last year, we had to make that change and structure to the show, and it does take a bit of time for these shows to bed in,” Campbell explains. “In terms of how it sounds, I’m very happy with how Ally is sounding, and it’ll only get better over the coming surveys. It’s a strong station, it’s got very high cume. Once listeners get familiar with Ally and her style of show, I think we’ll see that share lift.”

In Brisbane, 97.3FM’s Robin, Terry & Kip took out the #2FM breakfast spot, but saw a significant decline in ratings from 11.2% to 9.8%, however saw growth in the key 25-39 demographic.

“We had Kip Wightman join Robin Bailey and Terry Hansen on Brisbane’s KIIS 97.3 which we have been happy with, but we don’t know why there was such a significant drop. They’re #2 in breakfast, but the station overall has taken a drop this book, which was unfortunate today.”

He adds: “ I don’t really understand why it’s taken such a big dip. I do feel this will have an uplift the next few surveys, and the KIIS 97.3 sound is strong, now that we’ve ironed out the issues with breakfast, it’s got a more contemporary feel now with Kip on board. The dynamic between the trio is very strong. Again, not the best survey result, but I think with more work it can only improve from here. 4KQ continues to do well for us.”

Looking ahead, ARN’s focus is to have podcast and broadcast work side-by-side and continue to roll out its new podcast broadcast strategy for the rest of this year.   

“There is a real synergy around podcast and radio. The mediums are so similar in terms of they both tell great stories, obviously the distribution is different but the talent is similar, and there is a real battle going on to set up the best podcast talent at the moment. I think there is no reason in the future you won’t see people who are great podcast talent, also have radio shows, and the back-and-forth of promotion between radio and podcast, I think it’s a real positive future for audio. The two women on Life Uncut are real stars, they’re on every Saturday morning, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t end up being on a prime show at some point. They have record downloads of their podcast, too, which is just amazing.”

As to whether radio is dying, Campbell firmly quashed the statement, explaining: “People seem to still talk about the fact that radio is dying, and this medium has been around for over 100 years, and it’s been evolving ever since. If you talk about radio dying, then you don’t really understand the power of it and the magic of the medium, which is from the connection that the audience has. This connection is real, it’s enduring, and it’s very powerful.” 

He concludes: “That’s radio’s great strength, and that’s not ever going to change. Our ongoing strategy is to make sure we’ve got the strong presenters, strong personalities, and the connection with the audiences are all so strong, as well.”   


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