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Dave Cameron on why ‘chopping and changing’ at 2Day FM is no longer an option

Southern Cross Austereo had mixed results from the third GfK radio ratings survey of 2021. Mumbrella's Zanda Wilson caught up with content boss Dave Cameron to get his reactions, and predictions for the rest of the year.

When Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) chief content officer installed Hit Network’s drive show Hughesy and Ed on 2Day FM breakfast, adding Erin Molan, he knew it would be a tough ask to disrupt deeply entrenched listening habits in Sydney.

Cameron may not have necessarily expected 2Day FM’s to be rating above a 3.3% share (down 0.5 points in this week’s GfK ratings survey), but he must have hoped to be better off. 2Day FM as a station isn’t much better off, on a 3.5% share.

Those sorts of numbers got plenty of high-profile talent axed from the slot over the past decade, but Cameron tells Mumbrella that making more changes in the hope of results simply isn’t an option for SCA anymore.

“I’m confident we have it right with the right combination. Now we work hard. The alternative to remaining committed is to keep chopping and changing, and we have seen the effect of that on 2Day FM over the years. It’s not an option,” he says.

Hughesy, Ed and Erin dipped to a 3.3% share this week

Cameron points out that Sydney, like few other markets, has heritage shows on every major FM network. He’s not wrong either. At the top of the FM tree, Kyle and Jackie O (12.9%) have been on KIIS FM since it launched in 2014.

Meanwhile, Jonesy and Amanda have been on WSFM since 16 years. Fitzy and Wippa have hosted Nova 96.9 breakfast since 2011. Even Bogart and Glenn have been on Smooth 95.3 for almost ten years.

The only relatively new FM show is fellow SCA offering Moonman In The Morning, but the two stations aren’t competing for audience share or demos. “It’s very hard to impact the market that is full of long-term shows,” Cameron says.

“Audiences just don’t jump around that much so the only way to impact that is to be committed to the right show for a long period of time, with significant marketing, and that is what we’re doing with this show.

Cameron has previously spruiked the commercial appeal of the show for advertisers, and doubled down, revealing “advertisers have been very positive about the show and its results for them”.

And while 2Day FM has yet to reap any of the benefits of a clear turn towards music and entertainment in Sydney, with audiences shifting away from 2GB and the ABC this book, he believes there’s still time to tap into that transition.

“I think there’s probably a sense of news exhaustion after last year, and entertainment shows and music formats are certainly finding their way back into favour,” he says.

Cameron says it’s difficult to disrupt Sydney with so many heritage shows in play

One positive, if somewhat odd result for SCA in Sydney comes over on Triple M, which is doing particularly well in the 18-24 demo, not exactly the station’s heartland demo. Triple M has an 11% share of audience among these young adults, now its highest share in any demographic, and now sits behind only Triple J, Nova and KIIS 106.5

Cameron suggests it’s probably an anomaly. “I think we see these anomalies from time-to-time, and we don’t read too much into them. We certainly don’t super-serve this demographic but are delighted there is a younger audience that Triple M appeals to.”

Given the station has held its 11% for two surveys in a row and started the year with a 10.8% share, it might be worth keeping an eye on.

Some happier, and more expected news for SCA, is further incremental gains for Fox FM and the Fifi, Fev and Nick Cody breakfast show. The station gained 0.6 points overall and the breakfast show took 0.7 – leaving the show only 0.1 points off a top spot in the slot.

The station and its breakfast offering was a juggernaut in Melbourne on FM for years, unbeatable for years both when Hamish and Andy were on Hit Network drive and for a couple of years afterwards.

Cameron says it’s only a matter of time before Fox is back on top in Melbourne on FM. “All indicators are that it is bouncing well out of the 2020 COVID-impacted year, and building strong commuter audiences again, including finding new fans with the addition of Nick Cody. We have confidence that Fox breakfast will be a market-leading show again imminently.”

It’ll be a slower build for the newly installed Marty Sheargold Show on Triple M Melbourne, but as Cameron points out, it’s delivering in its target demo already. “Marty is still building his audience base, and we are rapt with the style of content the show is delivering.

“Any new show build takes time to find its audience, but we know the power of the Marty-magnet, and we are seeing it already No.1 in its target of 25-54 males.”

The power of the ‘Marty-magnet’ is already playing in Triple M’s key demos

Things are looking rosier at Triple M Brisbane, another station to have undergone significant lineup changes in the past few years, losing high profile talent like Lawrence Mooney (to Triple M Sydney), Robin Bailey (to 97.3FM) and more recently, Nick Cody (to Fox FM). With a 10.2% share of listening, the station is third overall and second among FM contenders.

“We transitioned Nick Cody out of that show and into Fox, but it shows how strong Marto and Margaux are for their audience. It’s a great result for Triple M Brisbane,” Cameron says.

Meanwhile, Roo and Ditts on Triple M Adelaide had a fantastic survey. Not a show that typically challenges for the throne in Adelaide, the heritage pair hold an 11.2% share of listening (up +2.1) to place them only behind Mix 102.3 in the FM stakes, and ahead of Nova and the struggling SAFM.

Cameron is pleased by the result, but not surprised, especially at this time of year. “It’s a legendary Adelaide show, and heading into footy season it always gets its boots on to play hard.”

As for the market with the most churn in talent since the turn of the year, Cameron looks to Perth and says he’s happy with the results there. Mix 94.5 is in second spot with an 11.9% share, while Triple M Perth sits on 7.9%, in a market dominated by Nova.

“We have a strong audience profile 25+, Nova has a strong audience profile Under 40, and we are seeing some audience shifts at the moment while there’s been a market disruption to traditionally established stations, so let’s have a look later in the year when the market settles a bit.

“We are very happy with both of our stations’ performance in Perth and our newest station Triple M has already established a strong presence.”

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