Having led WSFM and The Edge for over a decade as content director, Charlie Fox’s sudden exit from this role at Australian Radio Network in late 2017 shocked the industry. He had played an instrumental role in the growth of both Sydney stations. The person replacing Fox at WSFM, Scott Muller, had big shoes to fill. He started working as content director in January 2018. It marked his return to the heart of the radio industry after working as a consultant at MBOS Consulting Group for nearly 10 years.
“The only reason I came back to doing this is Duncan Campbell phoned me at the end of last year. The attraction was that this is a content director role in the traditional sense where I get to work with the talent and the production team. It’s a very hands-on role.”
Throughout his career in the industry, Muller has worked as a program director at Austereo Radio Group (now called Southern Cross Austereo) and Nova Entertainment in Australia and at Capital Radio in England.
In Sydney, WSFM claimed #1 FM spot from its stablemate KIIS 106.5 in the third radio survey for 2018. “We’ve had a good start to the year with three strong results in a row. The outlook for the year is really, really positive,” Muller said. The station had a patch of downward trend in the beginning of 2017. However, things started to look up in the second half of the year. By the final radio survey for 2017, Mediaweek editor James Manning noted, “The station was close to its best in two years.”
Could the success of WSFM this year be attributed to Muller joining the business?
“I wouldn’t just put it down to one person and certainly not me,” he answered, laughing. “The bigger reality of my appointment is that I have come in to build on the success that the station was set up to have when Charlie was here. It’s been an evolution.”
Along with the station, WSFM breakfast with Jonesy & Amanda has had a good year so far. The show climbed 1.3% to 9.4% in the third radio survey for 2018.
As the content director of the station, Muller drives its overall tone and sound. “I listen to WSFM pretty much 12 hours a day. More than 99% of the radio I listen to is this station,” he said. “I don’t go looking for mistakes. What I look for is an emotional connection.
“When I am listening to the station, I am consuming the content as a listener. I am looking for factors that make the programs unique and what we can do to make a stronger connection with me, the listener.”
Talking about WSFM’s biggest competitors in the market, Muller said: “There is no direct competitor for it. There are no stations with a similar format.
“Sydney is not that saturated of a market where that exists – certainly at the 35+ end of the scale.”
The target market for WSFM is 35-55s. “It’s fairly split between males and females,” Muller said. “They are people who grew up listening to the music from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.”
At WSFM, Muller’s aim is to “make it a better station tomorrow than it was yesterday”.