EP Andy Ruzgar on Adelaide’s #1 Fiveaa breakfast show

Part 1: Mediaweek speaks to EP Andy Ruzgar

Content is king and commercial success is queen for any show on a commercial radio station. Therefore, it comes with very little surprise that the latter has become a big part of an executive producer’s role.

“Something has to pay the bills and our wages,” FIVEaa breakfast EP Andy Ruzgar told Mediaweek. “There is a big agency part of it, but we also approach a lot of clients directly – more than a station like Nova would.

“Our competitor, ABC, gets its budget from the government, but we have to make our own money.”

FIVEaa is the only commercial talkback station in Adelaide. According to Ruzgar, the brand has a heritage value for the radio listeners in the South Australian capital.

Ruzgar started his career in the media industry as an intern at FIVEaa, working with Leon Byner, who now presents mornings on the station. Ruzgar’s career has seen him working with Ray Hadley and Kyle and Jackie O in Sydney. “That show is freer than other FM shows,” he remarked. “I like how they take calls on air and can be unpredictable.”

After working in Sydney for some time, Ruzgar returned to Adelaide in October 2015 when David Penberthy and Will Goodings came on as new breakfast presenters.

“It was an easy decision to come back home,” he said. “FIVEaa was the #1 station in Adelaide, it won every share and it was full of radio legends like Keith Conlon, Graham Cornes and Bob Francis. Then it went through a period [2013] where a lot of people left.

“With David and Will we created our own show. It’s the show we want to do and not the one that someone 10 years ago imagined would be the best way to do breakfast radio.

“If you played our show versus the one on the station five to 10 years ago, it would be totally different.”

In the time that FIVEaa was going through this change, ABC Adelaide breakfast took the lead and held onto it for a few consecutive surveys. The changes to its breakfast show in 2016 allowed FIVEaa breakfast to become more competitive in the timeslot. It’s often a close race for the top spot between FIVEaa’s David and Will, ABC Adelaide’s Ali Clarke and Mix 102.3’s Jodie and Soda.

In the second radio survey for 2018, David and Will recorded the smallest breakfast share since 2016 and Mix 102.3 breakfast was #1. In the third radio survey, ABC’s Ali Clarke was the breakfast leader in the market. However, in the fourth radio survey for 2018, FIVEaa breakfast share was up 1.8 to 14.4%. It overtook both Mix and ABC Adelaide.

“We pay a lot of attention to the ratings. People can say what they want about them, but it’s what we have,” Ruzgar said. “We are in tough market. Mix has a great appeal here and doesn’t have any competitors in that adult contemporary space.

“We ended 2017 as #1, then we dropped and Mix started the year flying. We were pretty disappointed to have that happen. When we got to #1, we may have thought, ‘We’ve done it.’ Going down in the books after gave us a kick in the backside that we needed. Now that we have recaptured it, we intend to keep it that way.

“The ratings are important but they don’t keep us up at night and shouldn’t, but we are pretty competitive here and we like to win.”

FIVEaa breakfast listeners

“They are parochial listeners who love Adelaide and hearing about things going on here,” Ruzgar said. “Our bullseye would be 55-65 plus, but David is 49 years old and Will is 34 years old, so we are pretty young in terms of what an AM breakfast radio show looks like. Therefore, we do also appeal to 35 to 45-year-old people who are starting to move away from music radio and are taking more interest in current affairs and talk radio.”

Tomorrow: FIVEaa breakfast presenter David Penberthy talks about his on-air partner Will Goodings and why the talkback show looks up to 3AW’s Ross and John

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