Gold, Kiis, WSFM and 96FM: ARN’s Duncan Campbell on the highlights of survey seven

Yesterday, for the eighth consecutive survey, Australian Radio Network retained its stronghold as Australia’s number one national network. The highlights? Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston spoke with ARN national content director Duncan Cambell to find out.

“I wish I could claim some credit for it, but we took it from 2Day FM.” ARN’s Duncan Campbell is talking to me after another successful survey for the network, it’s eighth as the top network in the country and yet another good survey for Sydney icons Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson.

The show, which Campbell points out originated on rival Southern Cross Austereo’s 2Day FM, celebrated being the number one FM breakfast show for the 15th survey in a row, with more listeners than any other FM breakfast show in the country. It isn’t a surprise for a duo who have held rabid fans in the region for many years, but in 2020 they were in great form says Campbell.

Campbell is very happy with ARN’s performance in survey seven

“Kyle is in very good form, he’s been in great form for the last couple of months, and Jackie had The Masked Singer as well which was trying for her in terms of the workload, but it’s a machine that show. I wish I could claim some credit for it but we took it from 2Day FM… but it really is a well-oiled machine and Derek Bargwanna as the content director is one of the key drivers of that and Sonia Jahshan the EP, etc. The talent are in very good form and they’ve actually had a very good year considering. The cume is 583,000 which is the most listened to breakfast show in Australia, which is fantastic. They’re really strong. They’ll continue to be really strong into next year and beyond,” said Campbell.

Another ‘well oiled machine’ in Sydney is WSFM’s Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller, or Jonesy and Amanda. Campbell said the station was overhauled earlier this year, with new music and the consistency of its key talent.

“The main competitor for WSFM is Smooth obviously and [they had a] very good book this survey, but Jonesy and Amanda and the whole station on WSFM are in a really good place,” he said.

“Jonesy and Amanda are in great form and it’s a unique show in that its a heritage breakfast show and there’s nothing quite like it on FM in Australia, it’s sort of like a old married couple, but its very entertaining and they’ve got a very loyal audience. They are impacted by Smooth when they market that station, but they always bounce back and that’s a testament to the strength of the on air talent and the station overall.”

The duo are the third most popular FM breakfast show in Sydney and WSFM is the third most popular station. They saw a very slight drop in survey seven, but definitely not enough for ARN to be worried about their longevity and, as Campbell said, the listeners always come back.

One place ARN will definitely not be worried about is Melbourne. Another number one in Melbourne ranking for the station – its seventh consecutive – and fourth number one in a row for Christian O’Connell.

“I think Gold’s really cemented itself now as the new number one FM station in Melbourne, which is great,” said Campbell.

“We’re very pleased with Gold, even in amongst the year of COVID, particularly in Melbourne where it had a great impact, for Gold to be so strong is a real testament to the breakfast talent in Christian O’Connell, but also the music and all the other work that goes into that station. Really happy with Gold.”

O’Connell was a real risk when he first came across from the UK two years ago, but he’s buried himself in Melbourne and proven he’s one to watch, soaring to number one and retaining the spot. FM took a hit in survey six, but some of that was recovered in survey seven and Campbell expects the trend to continue in survey eight and 2021.

“We’re expecting a slow return to normalcy in Melbourne, 3AW’s strength will still be there, they’re carrying a very strong result into survey eight. It’s still very much COVID country in Melbourne, but we have seen a strengthening of the FM stations in Melbourne, particularly after the cume loss last survey which was explainable given what was happening. Once that washes out, which will take a little while, we’ll see 3AW come back down to normal figures as we’re seeing 2GB do in Sydney as well,” he said.

In fact, Campbell is pretty sure the ‘new normal’ will be a lot more like the old normal we’re used to. Victoria will lag behind, he said, for obvious reasons, but the other states are already well on their way to a ‘responsible normality’.

“There’s still obviously social distancing and mask wearing, but I think overall Australians are very keen to get back to what they knew and what they’re comfortable with – the old norm. As soon as those borders open and the domestic flights are back to full schedule and we’re moving around the country, people will be desperate to get out and about,” said Campbell.

“I think 2021 will see a consistent move towards the old norm, with some modifications of course, which will have a minor impact on the commute, but not significant. Traffic is returning back to normal, it’s a shorter peak hour, bit it’s still fairly busy. We’re not going to have the ‘new norm’ that everyone thought we were going to have I think.”

Lastly, you couldn’t talk about ARN in survey seven without mentioning Perth’s 96 FM. Managing director Gary Roberts only joined the station in early 2019, but he’s pushed it to number one. Bringing Fred Botica and longtime radio partner Lisa Shaw back to the station has proven to be a stroke of genius, despite their fall this survey, the duo has undoubtedly performed well for the network.

“It’s an incredible story for Gary in terms of his legacy, he’s been in Perth radio for many years, he launched 96FM back in 1984, 40 years later he’s back at 96FM and it’s number one. It’s a great story. Obviously there are more people involved than Gary, but he really led that station to where it is today. The music we put together has been very strong, scheduled by Wayne McClean, Dan Underhill is the content director, he does a great job. It’s a great result for them and I’m very very pleased with them.”


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