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Adelaide ARN content director Sue Carter tells how 102.3 climbed back to the top

After a low ratings period at the beginning of this year, ARN re-examined the Adelaide market

Jodie & Soda

ARN Adelaide content director Sue Carter has been instrumental in the refresh of Mix 102.3, which has paid off in the last three radio surveys.

After a low ratings period at the beginning of this year, Australian Radio Network re-examined the Adelaide market and Mix 102.3.

“While we found that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the station, we did some music tweaks. We discovered that the world has gotten more competitive than it was 12 months or two years ago,” Carter told Mediaweek. “Adelaide is now a market where you have multiple heritage breakfast shows.

“Our competitors had gotten stronger. We identified that and said, ‘Right, we need to up our game. We need to be more creative and make more noise’. That’s what we’ve done over the last couple of books.”

Sue Carter

Sue Carter

At the beginning of this year, Mix 102.3 was dethroned from the top spot in the market by Nova 91.9. The ARN station, which is part of the KIIS Network, dropped to #2. In the second radio survey this year, the station clutched onto third spot with a share of 11.4%, while Triple M and Nova 91.9 were equal firsts on 11.5%.

However, fortunes at Mix 102.3 changed come the fourth radio survey this year. The station regained the #1 throne after adding 0.8% to its listener share in people 10+. The same survey Nova 91.9’s share dropped by 0.8%.

There has been no looking back since. After adding 1.9% in the fifth radio book and 1.3% in the sixth radio ratings result, the station is sitting 4.5 points clear of its closest rival. It currently has a share of 15.8%.

Mix 102.3 targets an older audience than other stations in the KIIS Network like KIIS 106.5 in Sydney. However, the music tweaks made at the station have seen contemporary music from artists like Justin Bieber get more airplay.

“We are a broad appeal radio station,” Carter stated. “If you listen to Mix now compared to Mix, say two years ago, we play a lot younger music than we used to while still playing the 80s and 90s anthems.

“The other thing that’s happened is someone who is 40 now feels a lot younger than someone who was 40 ten years ago,” Carter explained. “Take me as an example. I am in my 40s and I absolutely enjoy hearing artists like Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake.

KIIS Network drive show presenters Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek

KIIS Network drive show presenters Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek

“As a broad appeal station, the station targets 25- to 54-year-olds. We have the ability to handpick the songs that do appeal to a broad audience.”

The station dominates all the commercial dayparts in Adelaide except drive, where KIIS’ national drive show Hughesy and Kate ranks #2.

“We are particularly lucky to have Hughesy [Dave Hughes],” Carter said. “Hughesy has had a long history of spending a lot of time in Adelaide with regards to being in the comedy circuits.

“Drive is a tightly contested spot as it is. You are #1 one book and then you are #2 the next. Meanwhile, The Thinkergirls are delivering the strongest figures in evenings than we have had in a long, long time. They are currently sitting at #1.”

Apart from Mix 102.3, Carter is also responsible for the content on Cruise 1323. While Mix 102.3 boasts of the success of ARN in Adelaide, Cruise 1323 sits at the bottom of the ladder. However, Carter said, studying the station’s success in terms of its position in the market is deceptive.

“It’s part of a two-station strategy,” she said. “It’s programmed to complement Mix. Mix is our powerhouse. Cruise 1323 is a music station on AM, which is makes it tougher than being on FM.

“We do call it our quiet achiever. It doesn’t have the kind of survey budget to run those massive promotions that Mix and our other competitors run.

“The station has gone up five books in a row.”

Carter said it’s doing the job that ARN wants it to do. “The station is programmed 100% locally in Adelaide,” she said.

“[The listeners] are people who are looking for a station that combines music and some talk, as well as a bit of intelligent fun,” Carter explained. “We target people over the age of 50. Just because they are aged over 50, doesn’t mean they are decrepit and dead. They live in the now, but they also want to stay connected with their past. The best way to do that is obviously with the music that they’ve grown up with over the years.”

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