Greg Byrnes salutes ‘powerhouse’ 3AW for ongoing radio ratings success

Nine's head of content - radio Greg Byrnes spoke to Mumbrella's Calum Jaspan about the ebbs and flows of radio ratings, pays tribute to 3AW's run at the top and about the ongoing 'live and local' strategy playing out.

After the latest round of radio ratings, Nine’s head of content – radio, Greg Byrnes says that at the moment, Nine Radio’s strategy is just to focus on its own content, and not worry about how it stacks up against the rest.

“All we can do really is worry about what we’re doing, and make sure the programs are focused on, and delivering to their audience.”

In the the numbers reported this morning, 2GB’s flagship breakfast show, hosted by Ben Fordham reclaimed the top spot after last month’s historic ratings, which saw KIIS 106.5’s Kyle and Jackie O become the #1 breakfast show for the first time, in turn also ending the station’s 17-year hold on the top spot.

Ben Fordham is once again Sydney’s top breakfast show

Byrnes says that the Fordham reclaiming top spot is further evidence of the ‘live and local’ strategy playing out, “picking up the mood across each of the cities that we broadcast in”. And while Sydney has been in an extended lockdown throughout this entire survey period, he suggests that Fordham has struck the right chord with the city’s radio listeners.

“There’s certainly a lot of frustration around at the moment, and I think Ben has sensed that. Ben certainly has some achievements over recent months. That’s what our audience expects and that’s what we needed to deliver day in day out.”

Fordham’s show took home a 16.8% share of listeners, a healthy 3.5 point jump on last book, while 2GB overall rose 3.4 points to a 15.2% share, as the overall top station in Sydney.

On whether lockdowns have contributed to listeners switching from FM radio back over to AM, as has been the case throughout COVID-19 lockdowns, Byrnes simply says that “ratings will go up and down, we’ve made considerable changes, all we can do is worry about what we’re doing”.

Business as usual for 3AW’s Ross and Russ

In Melbourne, it was more of the same for its 3AW, where its breakfast show hosted by Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft experienced further gains, consolidating their lead. 

“It’s pretty remarkable when you think of what Ross and Russ have done. 3AW is a powerhouse. 54th consecutive number one. Neil’s strong, Ross and Russ are unbeatable, just leading the pack. We’re very proud of 3AW and what it’s doing.”

On the suggestion that ABC Melbourne’s Sammy J could pose a challenge to the duo moving forward, as his show climbed 2.2 points to take a 16% share, Byrnes says that he doesn’t see the two as direct rivals, again reaffirming the same line.

“I think they’re two different audiences, 3AW and the ABC. We just need to make sure we’re focused on our audience, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Despite the strong showing from the breakfast team, the station saw an overall drop in share of people 10+, and in the drive slot with host Tom Elliot.

Byrnes insists that the continuation of ‘live and local’ will make its mark by focusing on having each station being driven on a local basis.

“We put local decision makers in, so there is not someone in Sydney or Melbourne making decisions in relation to content in all the states. It’s effectively driven by the presenters who know and love their city.”

4BC’s Neil Breen

He also says that there is plenty to come from the other markets, with 6PR in Perth being “still ahead of our expectations”, despite a slight set back this month, dropping 1.1 points to take an 8% share.

“We’ve had a hell of a year. Events like the AFL Grand Final coming to town will really create a talking point and some momentum in Perth. It will make a difference and create a bit of excitement for 6PR over the coming months.”

While Melbourne and Sydney have been in lockdowns, which may well have contributed to increased numbers across AM radio, Byrnes says that the strategy continues across the board.

“COVID has been a story on the East Coast over recent months, and for a whole different reason in the West and to a lesser extent in Brisbane also. It’s not one-size-fits all in relation to the content. It’s content relating to the local market.”

Brynes also says that Brisbane has a lot to look forward to, with the Olympics coming to town in due course, with events like that, having great local content “generates a lot of local discussion”. Byrnes was happy with how 4BC performed this book, with Neil Breen up 0.7 and Scott Emerson also up in drive.

The overall story is “a really good story for us”, according to Byrnes, as he says that being the number one network for above 35s is something that “I think probably surprised some of our commentators”


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