Change in 2DayFM breakfast aims for younger audience as SCA hints at station rebrand

Hamish and Andy today network drive returnSouthern Cross Austereo is looking for an “immediate ratings boost” on the struggling 2DayFM network in Sydney after confirming popular duo Hamish Blake and Andy Lee in the Drive slot.

The show is not set to start until July 2015 with SCA’s executive director of metropolitan operations Guy Dobson telling Mumbrella they “decided they wanted six months off between their part time and full-time shows to sit down and clear their heads.”

However, Mumbrella understands the duo are developing a TV project with the Nine Network, but there is no specific detail on timing or the nature of the show.

According to an ASX release, approximately 3.35m shares, worth $3.08m, have been issued today by Southern Cross Austereo as part of a talent contract which according to the company “provides an out-performance incentive that aligns with the shareholder value.”

Dobson said they had made the decision to move the young team of Dan Debuf and Maz Compton into the breakfast slot on 2Day as part of a bid to make the station more youth oriented again, hinting it could be rebranded under the Hits brand spearheaded in Adelaide. 

The move sees an end to the current breakfast show of Jules Lund, Merrick Watts and Sophie Monk, although Dobson told Mumbrella they had “media first” plans for Lund and Watts with new shows to be unveiled next week.

Dan and Maz

Dan and Maz

On the decision to pull the plug on the breakfast show, which plunged from first to last place in the FM market after the departure of Kyle and Jackie O at the beginning of the year, Dobson said: “All of those guys work really hard and I respect their work ethic and what they’ve done for us.

“It’s hard to come in after a 10 year phenomenon of a show and lose 60 per cent of your cume across town to another show. I actually think they were creating better output than our competitors who have been around for a long time, but unfortunately output doesn’t necessarily equal ratings points.”

He said Dan and Maz, who moved to the nationally syndicated Drive show this year from the 6pm show, and Dobson said they would be the “only show by under 30s, talking the language people under 30 talk, in Sydney”.

To that end Dobson hinted the network is looking at rebranding at least the Sydney station to the more youth-oriented Hit format rolled out in Adelaide a fortnight ago, which he said is “getting great feedback at this stage”.

“We have good brands currently, especially on the east coast. But there’s a couple of stations in our stable we can switch to the Hit brand straight away,” he added.

“The fact is we’ve got a younger breakfast show, and we’ve got to make sure we support that. We have it in Adelaide and that market’s great for experimentation and early signs are it’s extremely successful.”

During a panel at the National Radio Conference earlier this month SCA’s marketing boss Nikki Clarkson was coy on the possibility of a rebrand for the network saying it was “way too early” to tell, but admitted there were benefits to a national brand structure, as with the Triple M network.

Turning to the ratings Dobson said he expected the return of Hamish and Andy to a full-time slot they vacated on a high note in 2010 to have an immediate effect, but admitted it will take time for some stations, especially 2DayFM, to recover having lost a large chunk of listeners following the departure of Kyle and Jackie O.

However he refused to discuss the terms of the contract for the pair, with rumours they are on as much as $5m per year each and have been given shares in the company. Dobson did say they had been pursuing the pair to return full time since their decision to quit.

The new Drive show will not start until July, with Jules Lund filling the gap until then.

Dobson added: “Hamish and Andy decided they wanted six months off between their part time and full-time shows to sit down and clear their heads.”

He also confirmed Watts and Lund will be staying on with full-time shows at the network, describing them as “probably the most advertiser friendly presenters we’ve got, they don’t talk about advertisers they talk about partners”.

The new lineup will also see a new marketing push from the brand, although Dobson was reluctant to set out details at this stage.

Alex Hayes


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