Radio bosses: Rove and Sam marketing to start next year, Hughesy and Kate to get makeover


The seventh radio survey of the year threw up yet more interesting results. Nic Christensen talks to the FM radio bosses about the results and what the rest of 2015 has in store. 

When Guy Dobson’s competitors put the boot into him and Southern Cross Austreo, he has a simply response: “Put it this way, I’d much rather have Hamish and Andy doing our drive show than any of their lot.”

Put aside the bravado and point scoring and today’s ratings have still thrown up some very interesting results, with a number of key markets in flux and many stations clearly laying the groundwork for their 2016 strategies.

But the main question radioland was asking today was this: has SCA’s Hit Network peaked?

The network’s rivals certainly think so.

“The results for SCA are pretty poor around the country,” argues Duncan Campbell‎ national content director at Australian Radio Network. “Except for Brisbane they haven’t had a great result.”

That’s not entirely fair. While it was far from the across the board rises we have seen in the last two surveys – HitFM’s stations fell in Perth (down 1.3), Sydney (down 0.5) and Adelaide (down 0.3) – but in Brisbane it rose (up 1.1) while Melbourne was stable (up 0.2). The challenge for Southern Cross Austereo is whether they count on more growth – particularly in the drive shift where Hamish and Andy are being paid handsomely to lift the network.   

Hamish & Andy returned to the airwaves on July 6 for a 'secret' week on-air

Hamish & Andy returned to the airwaves in July but their growth has largely slowed.

For Dobson this is not the end of the rise but rather an interlude – something he calls a “slight breather” before the next instalment. “There is way more growth to come,” Dobson declares confidently. “We have just jumped to number one in drive in Brisbane. “Hamish and Andy have jumped four and half points in Melbourne in the last two surveys and so a 0.2 slight breather is probably to be expected.” Certainly the impact of the drive duo is clear when you look at the full survey year drive results:

In Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide it is clear that there has been a significant boost on the back of Hamish and Andy’s return.

In Sydney and Perth the results are more questionable and it is this weakness that rivals are keen to highlight.

“Hamish and Andy have hit the level they are going to hit,” said Paul Jackson, Nova’s group program director. “Yes Fox is number one in Melbourne, but with a new breakfast show coming for Nova,” he adds promoting his own line up change for 2016 which sees Chrissie Swan go into the brekkie slot.

“They spent a fortune in terms of marketing in bringing them in to a lot of fanfare. People have sampled it and tried it but most of them have come back to Kiis or Nova in the main.”

Campbell too notes: “Hamish and Andy have had a mix resurgence but the early results show they have failed to deliver.

We don’t see Hamish and Andy as a threat in Sydney at all. Nor do we see 2Day as a threat, they have some major challenges there.”

Fixing Hit Network’s 2DayFM station in Sydney

Hit’s flagship Sydney station 2DayFM has been in the doldrums, something Dobson hopes the start of Rove McManus and Sam Frost on the airwaves on Monday in new breakfast show will help to fix. 

McManus and Frost: there are cosmetic things to fix.

McManus and Frost: there are cosmetic things to fix.

But Dobson himself acknowledges the station’s ratings weakness hurts the network in many respects: “In Sydney you have a drive show that is double the breakfast show.

“We have got the drive show right in Sydney, we have got the music right in Sydney. With the breakfast show at 2.9 you don’t have a great lead in there and don’t have a leap into drive.”

SCA’s competitors are even harsher arguing McManus and Frost were put on-air too early and with little chemistry.

“I don’t see Rove and Sam as a concern,” argues Campbell. “They have made a major mistake putting on that show as early as they did and I think that is going to prove very challenging for them.”

Certainly the pair have met with mixed reviews. However, Dobson dismisses this noting that he is very happy with the soft launch, and pledging a major marketing push for 2DayFM.

“We have launched great breakfast shows in the past and they have started off way worse,” he says. “There is some cosmetic stuff we can fix. There is a lot of stuff we can work on from a content and delivery point of view.

“But you only really get at this stuff when its on-air and I’m really happy with how it has finished up after two days.”

He adds: “We are on the air until Christmas and so we have weeks to bed it in before we trade launch it and market the hell out of it ahead of 2016.

We have got to get Sydney right. Our marketing budget has been increased ahead of next year,” he says, while refusing to be drawn on the details.

Were Dan and Maz non-simpatico?

Dumped: Dan & Maz move to weekend breakfast

Dumped: Dan & Maz move to weekend breakfast

Dobson also acknowledges mistakes were made with the Rove and Sam’s predecessors Dan and Maz, and more broadly the move to chase a younger audience in the timeslot.

“There was a demographic difference between a Dan & Maz listener and a Hamish and Andy listener,” he explains.

“There is way more simpatico with the Rove and Sam show – it is a bit more mature. It fits our brand a lot better than the younger target we were trying to get.”

It’s an interesting comment but does raise the question of why did 2DayFM’s management shifted Dan and Maz to weekend breakfast from 2016?

If 2015 was all about Melbourne 2016 will be all about Melbourne 

KiisFM stayed rooted to the bottom of the commercial FM pile in Melbourne again, failing to build share and seeing its breakfast show go backwards.

“Melbourne is a very competitive market,” says Campbell. “The irony is that the result today is not that bad for us, but we know that Melbourne has underperformed for us this year.”

Last survey Kiis promised a shake up in its line up and there have indeed been changes with Jane Hall being dumped and replaced by Meshel Laurie as a partner for Matt Tilley.

Campbell notes that there no further big changes in the pipeline and drive talent Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek will be back in 2016. “There is a lot of work going on behind the scene making sure that show has a point of difference next year,” he says.

“I won’t shy that this is a disappointing result and Melbourne remains the key piece of the puzzle which we need to fix up. We have greater confidence this year in the picks for next year than we ever have. “Hughesy and Kate are back next year we have a strong drive show.

Meshel is a great hire and the contrast between he and Matt Tilley will create a good strong point of difference.” SCA’s Dobson meanwhile is keen to highlight how Melbourne now see them clear number one in FM. “In Melbourne we have 1.1m listeners – that is the biggest radio station in Australia – that’s the cumulative for Fox FM.

No other radio station in Australia AM or FM comes close,” says Dobson. “There is daylight (in Melbourne) and then there is the rest of the pack.” 96FM Kiis rebrand strategy off kilter Perth? 

The first survey since Perth’s 96FM was rebranded under the Kiis banner saw the station drop 1.4 points to record a share of 8 per cent and remain at the bottom of the FM heap. This is a failure of the strategy that Campbell concedes surprised him: “Perth is the relaunch of a radio station there has been a quite a bit of shift there in terms of the audience – making it younger by ten years.

“We did expect some audience shedding not to the degree we’ve seen to be honest. However, it is a rebuild and the focus is on breakfast and that is where our focus is now. “We expect to see growth in that station in 2016.”

Nic Christensen is the deputy editor of Mumbrella. 

Full ratings results across all markets below:


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