Steady evolution pushes ratings higher at market leader: Sue Carter on Mix 102.3

‘If you don’t evolve you stay still and that means you probably won’t be the leader.’

Sue Carter has been in Adelaide for close to three years. As content director at Mix 102.3 she has overseen the station’s #1 overall ranking for the past 14 surveys. Carter told Mediaweek there hadn’t been any big changes in particular, but she said there has steady evolution at the ARN station.

“A station can’t stay the same and needs to move with the times. If you don’t evolve you stay still and that means you probably won’t be the leader.”

As to the recent ratings surge across all dayparts, Carter thinks it is the combination of a number of factors. “The radio station has a broad format – it’s got great heritage in the city with a long-serving breakfast show. We spend a lot of time making sure the content on breakfast has broad appeal. We try to make sure the music has broad appeal and, to put it simply, it plays the old stuff and the new stuff.”

Adelaide radio stars Jodie and Soda share secrets of breakfast success

Carter has worked around the world and when she arrived in Adelaide she realised how much the people of the city loved Mix 102.3. “It is one of those stations that constantly amazes you at the number of places you hear it being played. And you are constantly amazed by the number of people who know who Jodie and Soda are. There is a real affinity and a real love for the station.”

Mix 102.3’s Jodie & Soda

In addition to breakfast, the rest of the station is performing well too. Even the new KIIS networked drive show with Will and Woody has found an audience soon after launch. “Mix is a feelgood radio station and their show is fun. Although I am commenting on just one survey, it does appear the show is resonating and Adelaide is liking it a lot.

“We have big numbers right across the day. Besides the research and strategy around playing great music, we do great daytime work contesting. It does help of course having a great breakfast show lead-in.”

Carter echoed a similar sentiment Jodie and Soda had about the strategy for breakfast. “People are busy in the morning and a lot of the Mix audience are families. We would be arrogant to think we were the most important part of their day. If we can supply some laughs and relatable content plus a chance to win big money, small money and some prizes, it is all part of the formula.”

Mix 102.3 breakfast team

Executive producer of the Mix 102.3 breakfast show is Rob McCasker who is also the anchor of the breakfast show.

ARN has recently added an additional member to the team with the appointment of John Bleby as breakfast content manager. “The idea is that the station now has three senior content people working on breakfast. [Rob, John and Sue Carter’s replacement as Mix content director Tony Aldridge.] To be part of that process you sit in a room with an experienced bunch of radio people and you start to bounce around ideas. A lot of stations might have some junior roles supporting their breakfast show, but we made a decision to have really senior people working on the show to try to maintain that #1 position and to come up with new and innovative content.”

Carter and O’Connell take on Melbourne

ARN recently announced Carter would be moving to Melbourne as the new content director at Gold 104.3. She will arrive about a month before her new breakfast host Christian O’Connell flies in from the UK.

Carter worked in UK radio before she moved back to Australia and she admits to being a fan of O’Connell for years. “He makes me laugh, he’s a consummate professional and one of those talents who allow the people around them to star as well. He’s very giving as a performer.”

After Mix Adelaide explodes to 16% share, ARN moves content guru Sue Carter to Gold

She’s under no illusion though there will be some hard work needed when O’Connell arrives. “It will be innovative for the market and challenging, very different and exciting to be a part of.”

She noted there will be much scrutiny of how the new Gold breakfast performs. “We will rise to the challenge,” she told Mediaweek.

As to how long it could take, Carter said: “Who knows? A quick fix isn’t needed and this isn’t about a quick fix. This is a long-term strategy.”

Sue Carter starts work at ARN Melbourne on April 9 and she’s currently house hunting.

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