Radio bosses: Melbourne set for marketing war; Hit looks to breakfast as Hamish & Andy slip; Macquarie’s concern as evenings freefall

NicThe final radio survey of the year saw some significant movements in many markets. Nic Christensen talks to the FM and AM radio bosses looking back at the year that was and their strategies going into a new ratings year.

Ask ARN’s Duncan Campbell what he’d like for the new year and and the answer is clear. For Christmas 2016 he is hoping for a number two station in Melbourne, maybe even a number one.

“If I’m being realistic (what I want) is for Kiis to be challenging FoxFM,” says Campbell who is national content director at Australian Radio Network. “If we end next year as a strong number two in FM in Melbourne that would be great. The icing on the cake would be topple them.

Campbell: wants to be number two in Melbourne in 2016.

Duncan Campbell

“Realistically though we are looking at us challenging Fox for number two and I’d love for Gold to be number three and have a WS/Kiis scenario playing out in Melbourne – would be the ultimate goal.”

It’s a bold Christmas wish in a year where KiisFM in Melbourne (rebranded from Mix in January) has struggled to break out from the pack, finally seeing a lift in ratings in survey 8, where the station was up 0.9 points in total people to reach an equal third place with Nova100 at 6.8 share.

However last year Campbell also stated ARN’s focus would be on the Victorian capital, citing that as a reason for bringing in Hughesy and Kate in the drive slot.

Indeed it would appear many radio bosses are making Christmas 2016 wishes for Melbourne and all them are preparing their marketing budgets to ensure Santa delivers.

Melbourne’s 2016 marketing war

Survey 8 saw both Nova’s Melbourne stations lose audience. Nova100 was down 0.2 to a 6.8 share in total people while SmoothFM shed 1.0 to be at 7.1 per cent share.

“That happened because shows that are changing – like (breakfast show hosts) Meshel (Laurie) and Tommy (Little) are coming off-air – they know that, listeners know that it is no wonder that people don’t stick with the show and we have lost over a share point,” says Paul Jackson, Nova’s group program director.

Asked if he is confident of making a recovery Jackson is adamant they will: “For us we have Chrissy, Sam and Brownie (Chrissy Swan, Sam Pang and Jonathan Brown) coming in next year 9in breakfast) and so I don’t have any concern about the show we are putting forward. The marketplace is going to move around as almost all the breakfast shows are changing.

Brown, Swan and Pang: taking over Nova 100 breakfast in 2016.

Brown, Swan and Pang: taking over Nova 100 breakfast in 2016.

“We will make sure Chrissy, Sam and Brownie, three really well known names in Melbourne, are on Nova100. That is the job we have set about doing,” he says.

ARN too will be shouting from the rooftops in 2016 with content boss Campbell noting: “FoxFM is a very strong radio station. I talk about ARN’s consistency over the last few years and if you look at Fox it has been a very consistent radio station over many, many years and it will be a challenge to knock those guys off. But that is our ultimate goal.”

It’s a point not lost on Guy Dobson. Southern Cross Austreo’s chief content officer says he is very aware of the marketing war that will break out next year.

“There have been a couple of changes in Melbourne with our rivals where they will blow the trumpet and so from a marketing perspective we are expecting a bit of firepower there,” says Dobson. “We won’t rest on our laurels with Fifi and Dave and I think there will be a lot of ads for Melbourne breakfast I would imagine.” Dobson also notes that SCA will be doing its own advertising, not just in Melbourne but across the eastern seaboard. “We have a new breakfast team in Brisbane, we have got to grow 2Day – that is no secret – and we have to maintain Melbourne,” he says.

McManus and Frost: On-air from Monday.

McManus and Frost: saw an underwhelming 0.1 per cent rise in breakfast.

Hit Network to focus on breakfast In terms of SCA’s performance in the final survey Dobson has two ways to describe it: “disappointing” and “underdone”.

“It’s a disappointing ratings survey,” concedes Dobson, noting declines for the Hit Network in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide while TripleM went backwards in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“We actually thought we’d do better in many of those geographies.”

“TripleM always gets a bit of a nudge back after footy season when the AFL and NRL ends but nonetheless our lead indicators have shown we were perceptually going to do pretty well. So the result is a bit disappointing and the result is slightly underdone.”

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Sydney were the decision to dump Dan Debuf and Maz Compton in breakfast after less than a year in favour of Rove McManus and Sam Frost failed to move the needle significantly with their share up just 0.1 point to a meagre 3 share, still bottom of their competitive set.

“It is really hard for any of your shifts to go up when your breakfast shows are not performing to their optimum in those markets,” says Dobson, making it clear that for 2016 he is hoping Santa will give him three solid breakfast programs on Hit, instead of just one, FoxFM in Melbourne.

“Our focus is totally going to be on the Hit Network in breakfast next year,” he says. “From Rove and Sam who are getting better every day to ensuring Fifi and Dave in Melbourne are up there at the top show and in Brisbane where Osher Gunsberg is going into breakfast will be extra firepower to Hit105.”

Hamish & Andy: have they peaked?

Hamish & Andy: have they peaked?

Hamish and Andy slip in drive Dobson’s other major concern is drive where Hamish and Andy saw the rises of recent surveys disappear with declines in Sydney (down 0.2), Brisbane (down 1.5) and Perth (down 1.5).

Adelaide was flat while their hime turf Melbourne was the only market to rise (up 0.2).

“It is steady in Melbourne, Fifi and Dave have done well and Fox being number one is still a large jewel in our crown and that is obviously Hamish and Andy’s heartland,” says Dobson.

“Our detractors will tell you otherwise but the guys have been on drive for five months now and … we have nothing but high hopes for them in the new year.” Jackson and Campbell were both keen to point out how SCA’s drive duo now trail Kiis’s Hughesy and Kate and Nova’s Kate, Tim and Marty nationally.

“They have dropped to third in drive (nationally),” says Jackson. “There is a level that each of these shows sit at I mean they are up one or two in Melbourne and there are declines which, while not massive, show the range they are playing in.”

Campbell too questions if they believe they have peaked.

“They peaked far too early for SCA to benefit from that,” he says.

“Their only stronghold is in Melbourne which you would expect given the strength of Fox as a station, but to lose 1.5 points in Brisbane and nearly a full point in Perth is not a good story for them.”

“Hamish and Andy are failing to attract any audience in Sydney. I mean a 5.4 share is not great for them – that’s the interesting one for me,” he adds contrasting it with the 9.3 per cent they are pulling in Melbourne.

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Macquarie’s networked stars lose traction outside Sydney

Macquarie Radio Network’s experiment of broadcasting Sydney shock jocks Alan Jones and Ray Hadley on its recently acquired 4BC station in Brisbane appears to have stalled.

Jones fell 0.4 to a 6.1 per cent share while Hadley fell 0.2 per cent to 6.6, against a backdrop of a 0.6 point decline across the station where it finished the year at 4.9 per cent.

Most concerning for Macquarie’s management will be the collapse in audience in its evenings show where the networking of Steve Price and Andrew Bolt has seen audiences collapse from 9.1 last survey to a 6.1 per cent share this survey. Evenings are generally seen as an important lead-in for breakfast.

It was a similar picture in Melbourne with Macquarie’s talk station 3AW witnessing a 3.8 point free fall from a 15 share to a 11.2 per cent.

Macquarie’s COO Adam Lang told Mumbrella he was not worried about evenings decline: “Steve Price is relatively new to 3AW and 4BC having joined from October 5.

“It will take some time and awareness to settle with the audience. Steve has a proven record with the Sydney audience where he has achieved a dominant number one evening position. He has the ability to grow the audience on 3AW, 4BC as well as on over thirty five networked regional stations. The concern we have is to ensure that we give the show and the audience the support to grow.

On the decline at 4BC Lang noted the station was up on a year ago and that its Sydney station 2GB had finished the year strongly with Jones and Hadley on a 15.2 per cent share and 18.5 per cent share respectively and 2UE was also showing “good strength” in key shifts, despite it being on a 4.6 per cent share in total people.

“Alan Jones and Ray Hadley joined 4BC on April 27 and each show finishes the year well above the station average,” Lang says.

“(On) 2GB it has finished in terrific shape and has held the number one radio position in Sydney all year. That has been the case for 93 consecutive surveys.

“2UE is showing good strength in breakfast, evening and weekends. We need to build on those in 2016 as well as evolve in other shifts.”

Nic Christensen is the deputy editor of Mumbrella. 


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