ARN’s The Edge: targeting the under-35 market

Mike E and Emma discuss how they appeal to their young audience plus their station’s success with digital radio

Mike E and Emma

The Edge 96.One’s selling point is that it strictly speaks to people aged 35 and under. This brief was set by the station’s program director Charlie Fox.

“About 10 years ago we were sitting here playing what every other station in the town was playing, which was contemporary hit radio,” Fox told Mediaweek. “We thought, ‘We’re not going to get anywhere doing this.’ So we put a poll on the website and ran a promo saying, ‘We don’t know what to do. What would you like?’”

More than 85% of the station’s audience voted for it to play hip hop and RnB music. Fox and his team recognised this as the gap in the market and took on the listeners’ suggestion. “It’s become more of an urban pop format, but we still play hip hop of course,” Fox said.

Charlie Fox WSFM

Charlie Fox

Two of the key voices at the station are its breakfast presenters Michael “Mike E” Etheridge and Emma Chow, who have just celebrated their fifth anniversary on-air. They take the commitment to being on-air partners so seriously that in 2011 they got married to become radio husband and wife.

It was a gimmick that really engaged the listeners of the Mike E and Emma show. “They chose Mike’s suit, the theme of the wedding, my dress and also the song we walked down the aisle to,” Chow said.

Fox, Etheridge and Chow all agreed the 35-and-under age group that the station is targeting is highly engaged and has more buying power than the market thinks.

“Because The Edge is so tribal, you won’t find these listeners in a lot of other places,” Fox claimed. “They are very specifically listening just to The Edge. These people aren’t dial twiddlers, because you don’t get this format anywhere else in town or around Australia. Any youth brand that is looking to make an impact is really what we are after.”

“People are doing a lot of firsts: first home, first cars,” Etheridge stated. “There is more disposable income in the 18-24 age group.”

The Edge is currently #1 on digital radio in Sydney, ahead of Coles Radio. It is also the fifth most listened-to station on DAB+ nationally, behind Coles Radio, Buddha, The 80s iHeartRadio and Classic Rock Digital. It has a cumulative audience of 104,000. The success on DAB+ is not supported by any promotions in markets outside Sydney, Etheridge stated.

“We do a replay show between 6pm and 7pm, which also goes out on The Edge digital,” he said. “We only replay the highlights. That’s one of the things we do when we come off-air, discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we are going to put on the replay show.

“Even though these things can be edited, we try to avoid saying good morning in the middle of a segment, because we know that it is going to be played at night. There will be different parts of the show where we will be more local, but someone in Adelaide is not going to get me talking about a Western Sydney thing. You have got to keep that in mind while broadcasting.”

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