‘We are very hungry and ready to go’: How Macquarie Radio Network is trying to reposition

The boss of Australia’s biggest talk radio network has acknowledged the beginning of 2015 was a ‘tough’ few months as the merger of the Macquarie and Fairfax Radio Networks saw more than 10 per cent of the workforce made redundant.

In his first media interview since the two radio networks merged Macquarie’s chief operating officer Adam Lang spoke openly about the challenges of bringing the two businesses together but noted it was now having greater sales success on the back of the new national advertising proposition.

“We are very hungry, we are almost greedy, we are impatient and we want to keep that (momentum) building,” said Lang, who noted their new focus on was shifting media agency mentalities away from 25-54 year old grocery buyers and getting them to recognise the value of older audience.

Lang also flagged that while it would seek to keep Sydney talk station Radio 2GB strong while also simultaneously working to build Radio 2UE, but acknowledged it still had work to do around defining that proposition.

“In Sydney we firmly believe in talk content,” he said. “It is a space where as the owner of two stations we face the question of how do we keep 2GB strong in Sydney and also do something else with 2UE?

Stanley and Linnell

Stanley and Linnell

“I think what we have been able to do with the Breakfast show with John Stanley and Garry Linnell is show there is an audience there – about six per cent.

“That’s a healthy six per cent that is nothing like the audience of 2GB and Alan Jones which is usually between 15 and 20 per cent.”

Asked about the risk of cannibalising existing talk audiences Lang responded: “We have got a good model there… two distinguished audience products and they are not competing with other and they are earning good (audience) share.

2UE“2GB and 2UE who were very much arch competitors and 2UE will stay in talk but the question is around how we nuance that around programs that keep 2GB strong and provide a really valid alternative.

“To be honest I don’t precisely know how that is going to land. We are working feverishly to that end.”

On the broader impact of the merger Lang acknowledged the difficulty which came with the merger and subsequent redundancies, which included the departures of not only some 60 staff but also saw the loss of many of Fairfax Radio’s top executives Clark Forbes, Chris Parker and Anthony Frangi. 

“It has been a fascinating six months and it feels like that time has gone by very very quickly,” said Lang. “Being part of a merger feels like an exceptional event. I mean it doesn’t happen everyday and so for us bringing together the Fairfax Radio Network and the Macquarie Radio network has been brilliant and exceptional.

“A lot of it was tough,” he added. “Six months ago we had 60 redundancies. We have a full time equivalent staff of around 450 now that’s probably 600 people, when you factor in part time and casual staff.

“It’s about ten per cent of people gone and there were good people who had to go because their roles didn’t fit the operational model. That was really tough and while its certainly in our memory it does feel sometime ago.”

Lang said their current focus was on building the strength national talk network proposition in key markets Brisbane and Perth, and then selling that message to both direct clients and media agencies.

“We are now moving through a lot more to help grow our business,” Lang said.

“First and foremost the two key high performing pillars are 2GB in Sydney and 3AW in Melbourne. They must remain strong.

“Alongside that 4BC Brisbane must grow and 6PR in Perth must grow and we are very focused on that.”



Lang previously headed the Fairfax Radio Network and is expected to take the reins as CEO when Macquarie boss Russell Tate departs next year.

It was one of Fairfax Radio’s great frustrations that they struggled to sell their national proposition due to Radio 2UE’s weakness in Sydney.

Asked about how that national proposition was being received Lang said it was positive.

“We have been able to demonstrate to clients the return on investment that comes through buying advertisements and working with us,” he said.

“We have strong direct relationships that we have been able to maintain and we believe there is a little room for growth there.

“In agency this is were we have made it very hard for them to buy us. The lack of a national network with key stations missing has been one of the key barriers and that is now gone.”

Macquarie RadioLang said Macquarie Radio’s sales team would now fight the “demographic battle” with media agencies in an attempt to shift they away from their focus on young radio audiences.

While the talk stations often do well in the GFK radio surveys, in the case of 2GB or 3AW up to 15 per cent their audiences skew older with both stations in the last survey claiming a massive 30 per cent of those over 65-years-old.

“The next challenge is around the demographic,” said Lang. “We have heard for 20 years that the ideal demographic is 25-54 year olds grocery buyers with kids and it hasn’t changed in 20 years.

“But the truth of it is people are very active north of 40-50. They are buying clothes, they are renovating homes, they have paid down debt and have generally made their choices in their lives.

“They know what they like and have got the money to spend on it.

“We have a very affluent audience and one of the challenges for us is that we have got the national network now, with two very strong stations in Sydney and Melbourne and building in Brisbane and Perth, but it is now about working on that demographic battle.”

Nic Christensen 

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly misquoted Lang in the quote on being hungry and wanting to keep momentum building. The story has been updated to ensure the quote is correct.


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