Dave Cameron on Perth’s ‘fairy tale’ start, and 2Day FM’s new breakfast show potential

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) didn't blow away the competition in the first survey of 2021, but Dave Cameron tells Mumbrella's Zanda Wilson he couldn't be happier, especially with the performances of his new shows across metro markets.

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) undoubtedly took a significant risk at the start of 2021, refreshing or rebooting six flagship breakfast shows across Australia.

Chief content officer Dave Cameron reflects back on where his new shows have started, and admits he’s just glad to get this survey done.

“It was a good day today. I’m really glad to get today out of the road because we’ve made more changes in the last six or seven months than we have in the latest decade.

“It was a starting line today for where we can go and grow new audiences, new brands, new shows. So if this was the first outing, this is a pretty strong start for us.”

SCA chief content officer, Dave Cameron

In perhaps the most closely scrutinised market, Sydney, Cameron points out that his stations bucked a general downward trend for FM radio in this book, despite 2Day FM not exactly jumping out of the blocks.

“Every [station] in Sydney went down outside of 2Day FM, and I will take that. It’s a very interesting market in terms of still having fluctuations with audience behaviours.

“At the moment, with some people working from home, the COVID factor is still happening. It would seem that normality in terms of listening patterns hasn’t returned yet.

2Day FM grew its overall share (4.2%) and breakfast share (4.4%) by 0.2 percentage points respectively. Meanwhile, Moonman in the Morning on Triple M jumped 0.8 points, and is now rating a very respective 6.4%, just behind the likes of Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa and WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda.

It’s perhaps no surprise then, that Cameron is pleased with the way things have started in Sydney.

“I’m happy with the solid entry point for 2Day FM. The biggest challenge for the first 12 months will be awareness, and getting potential audiences to understand there’s a new show in town, getting on their radar.

“I think Hughesy, Ed and Erin is as strong a proposition as we’ve had in 2Day FM breakfast in seven years.

“All-in-all it was a strange Sydney survey across the board, but I was ecstatic for Moon [Lawrence Mooney] and Jess [Eva]. The result they had in breakfast was fantastic, obviously took over some of the placings against competitors which was nice.”

Hughesy, Ed & Erin is 2Day’s best breakfast offering in “seven years”

SCA also made changes to both its breakfast offerings in Melbourne, on Fox FM and Triple M Melbourne. It was also a market where there was a real shift back away from talk radio and AM, towards FM radio, despite 3AW maintaining its sizable lead overall.

“I think we’re seeing two things [in Melbourne],” Cameron says. “I think there’s a bit of a demand for light relief at the moment, after the doom and gloom of last year when everyone wanted the facts and numbers. The research we’ve done would suggest there’s a demand for comedy.

“The second thing you’re starting to see is people back in cars, after a pretty heavy-duty lockdown. Some of the listening patterns and routines have returned, and that’s affecting those FM breakfast shows that were pretty badly wounded when cars were stripped off the road.”

Cameron admits he plans to take full advantage, and Fox FM, where Nick Cody joined Fifi Box and Brendan Fevola, saw an upturn both overall and in the breakfast slot.

“Nick [Cody] has gone in there and added a new element of funny. My ears tell me he has really settled in there well and feels like a natural fit for the show.

“Then obviously there’s Marty [Sheargold] on Triple M whose come in for Eddie McGuire after 11 years,” Cameron continues.

“Low sixes as a starting point for a brand new show is beyond our wildest expectations [for Sheargold].

Speaking about the new show, and the legacy of the old show, Cameron says he believes it’s currently serving two audiences. “Marty is now bringing the younger audiences, it’s got a different tone and feel, and it delivers shits and giggles.”

But perhaps SCA’s biggest shakeup came in Perth, with a brand new station in the form of Triple M Perth and a new show led by Basil Zempilas, plus the decision to align the highly successful heritage station Mix94.5 with the national Hit Network.

There were mixed results for the pair in survey one, with a rise of a 0.6 percentage point for Mix overall and an even bigger jump of 1.2 points on Breakfast, now presented by Pete, Matt and Kymba.

“For Mix to grow and pick up some of that audience that was left when we switched off Hit 92.9, while still maintaining its audiences from last year, it’s almost a picture-perfect play for us.”

Triple M Perth’s first survey delivered an overall share of 8.0% and a breakfast share of 7.7%. But although those numbers are both down on what the now-defunct Hit brought in the last survey of 2020, Cameron is looking at it differently.

Instead of seeing a dip, he says SCA is looking at Triple M Perth as if it started on 0%, which, in the world of GfK radio ratings, is an asterisk.

Basil, Xav and Jenna made a “fairytale start” according to Cameron

“If I had to write a fairytale starting point for Perth, it would have looked like today. The strategy we’ve put in place midway through last year, has essentially played out to perfection,” Cameron says.

“You’ve got to remember we are starting from ground zero with Triple M Perth. We switched off the transmitter and cleaned out audiences. We started with a brand new station, brand new format and new breakfast show.

“You effectively started in December with zero listeners. So to end up one and a half points below our key competitor after seven or eight weeks, is our fairy tale story of the day.”

Triple M has a new-look drive show in 2021 as well, with Jane Kennedy a late scratching from her show with Mick Molloy. This year, the latter is going it alone, and Cameron reveals that SCA backs Molloy’s vision for the show moving forward.

“It’s hard to tell [how the show is going] as it’s only five weeks into that show,” he says. “Mick has a vision for that show and we’ve embraced that vision.

“Jane’s departure was certainly not our decision, and we were devastated to see her make that decision. But Mick is a radio guy from decades ago. He knows how to build shows and he knows how to deliver funny to radio audiences.

“He knows how it needs to be, and it needs some time to settle.”

Despite the positive outlook across most markets, Cameron knows that there’s bound to be some misattribution going on in this book across multiple markets, with the talent churn around the grounds.

His only advice is to keep watching and waiting to see where the numbers land.

“It takes some time for people to get their head around change. Listening is a very routine-based thing.”


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