Nova and Smooth FM launch ‘Thank You’ concert for essential workers

Nova Entertainment’s radio brands Smooth FM and Nova will host a ‘Thank You’ concert for essential workers who have been on the frontline of Australia’s COVID-19 response, featuring Keith Urban, Amy Shark, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and Michael Buble.

Nova’s chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson said that even though all media companies are under pressure and looking for ways to cut costs, putting on the concert was the “right thing to do”.

The concert will celebrate Australia’s essential workers

The live-streamed music event will take place on 20 June and be invitation only. Listeners of both radio networks can nominate people – such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers, cleaners, supermarket workers and drivers – from 9 June.

Jackson said unlike some competitions, concerts and exclusives, this initiative is not a ratings grab. Success, he said, will be measured on people’s emotional response and engagement with the concept.

“It’s highlighting the people who have gone above and beyond and continue to do so, especially in those early weeks of going into lockdown. The focus is for them. This is not traditional radio promotions. It’s not doing it with one-eye on the ratings or anything like that,” he told Mumbrella.

“We’re bringing two very different networks together to do something in the marketplaces we’re in around the country, and taking it to the people – giving them a special moment. And if I was a listener, I’d know many people to nominate, and you’d want to win their way in and win your own way in.

The concert will feature ‘something special’ from Ed Sheeran

“You can see that on the night, people will be getting the takeaway in and the food and drink, and you can stream it through your television and you’re really watching a two-hour specially made for a handful of people, a few hundred people, a very special, unique show, so I think so long as those people think ‘Wow. That’s a great thing to do for the people who have gone above and beyond’ – that’s really what we’re focusing on.”

He conceded the decision to co-brand the event with two distinct radio brands – Nova and Smooth – was not without its challenges, but said in the context of “coming together”, it makes sense.

“We took the view that this is about coming together. This is about all of us giving something back, so it just kind of made sense, and it snowballed from there.

“There were a few eyebrows raised when we were initially talking about it, and then people came around to it quite quickly and thought ‘Oh I totally get it. It makes sense’.

“Both stations have a broad appeal of listeners, and Smooth has got a lot of under 40 listeners and does extremely well. We know, and we see it in our GfK numbers, a lot of people listen to Nova who will go and use Smooth at some point during the week, and vice versa.

Local artist Amy Shark will be involved in the livestream

“In the grand scheme of things, there’s such broad appeal for this, such a unique moment in time. It’s not something you’d normally do, but it’s fitting and it makes sense.”

The logistics, he said, have also been a challenge with people working remotely and the whole concept of live events being turned on its head.

“We’re spending most of our lives on Zoom at the moment having a million conversations and doubling back on a lot of things. It is easier to contact people to be fair. People don’t have an excuse not to call you back. We know they’re at home. So there is that too. And it’s just a whole different adaptation of everything that we’re doing.

Katy Perry is one of the first artists to be announced

“But the philosophy is the same and the putting the show together is the same, but there’s certainly lot more risks attacked to this, and you’ve got to hope on the night that everything works. The back end is probably a lot more complicated really than just doing a straightforward live event in Sydney. But we’ve totally embraced it, and we’ve got a lot of experiences over the years of doing lots of different types of Red Room events, here and internationally, so we’ve got a very experienced team of people. So we feel we’ve bitten off a lot here, but we can certainly handle it.”

Further artists will be announced daily, with the full line-up revealed on Nova’s syndicated drive show Kate, Tim and Marty, and Smooth’s Simon Diaz program.

The event will be hosted by Nova talent Kent ‘Smallzy’ Small and Smooth’s Richard Wilkins.

In February, Robbie Williams fronted a national brand campaign for Smooth FM, although he has not, at this stage, been announced as a participant.


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