Breaking the radio rules: Em & Harley building an iTunes audience

There has been plenty of content to get people talking

While the numbers of listeners to iTunes podcasts are not included in GfK radio surveys, Sydney’s new 2Day FM breakfast show has been performing well on the iTunes chart. In the comedy category, the podcast for The Em Rusciano Show with Harley Breen is often top 10, and depending on when you check the live iTunes charts, it often ranks #2 or #3 radio podcast behind Hamish and Andy who are locked in top spot despite the absence of new material.

New 2Day FM content director Jase Allen told Mediaweek the team at the Hit Network had worked hard behind the scenes to get the show up and running. Part of that strategy was to make sure they could push out the show to people who couldn’t listen live or in fact might have another first choice at that time of day.

Longtime 2Day FM listeners might remember elements of Judith Lucy in what Em and Harley are doing. Lucy certainly broke a few of the radio rules. 2Day has in fact branded its new breakfast pair “Sydney’s loosest breakfast show”. While the Judith Lucy experiment didn’t end well for 2Day, the station will be hoping for a longer ride with Em and Harley.

“It’s loose, it’s real and it goes off track, sometimes ideally when we wouldn’t want it to,” admitted Allen to Mediaweek.

“We want to capture the great moments from the show in the podcast and keep the no-filtered approach we have on air. We are making a real effort to promote the podcast and we are trying different things to help push it out.”

Jase Allen

It is good news that 2Day is not cleaning up the live show to make it sound a little more polished. “We are even looking at putting things in there that traditionally as a content director you wouldn’t be agreeing to.” One of those extras could be unedited interviews.

There has been plenty of content to get people talking including Em’s famous working mother rave, the “phone topics from 1999” segment which came from an old Gemma Fordham [Hit Network content director] notebook to days when a surprise guest arrives without them appearing on the run sheet.

“We promote the times in the podcast particular things happen so they can easily find the great moment and they might then stick around for the whole podcast if they enjoyed that.”

What about moving from podcast listeners to live listeners and ratings points? “Hopefully that will happen. Everyone wants to get their brands to the biggest possible audience and we certainly do.”

Allen said as well as promoting program highlights in the podcast, they are also pushed out across the day on 2Day FM. One of those recently was the infamous Boy George interview that saw 2Day break an embargo Nine was insisting on.

Allen: “Em wanted it out there because she loves Boy George and she loved the interview. The downside is we had to try and clean up the mess behind the scenes. Great shows and great talent don’t always play by the rule book and this show doesn’t play by the rule book.

“It’s an exciting ride every day and you never know what you are going to get. They want to do things differently and we are all on board for that ride.

“Em and Harley have a unique point of difference in the market and it is an exciting time for Sydney radio. The more competitive the good shows at KIIS, Nova and 2Day are, the better. We are looking forward to what might be a long battle over the next year or two.”

Jackie Henderson has sometimes been labelled Kyle Sandilands and KIIS FM’s secret weapon, a role that Harley Breen could be playing at 2Day FM. Allen said: “He’s the underdog and certainly a surprise packet.” Allen added with a laugh: “He’s the biggest hipster I know and he would drink craft beer every day of the week even though he hates it. He is the nicest guy and one of the funniest men I know.

“He and Em complement each other perfectly. They are such an exciting team to be around and they feed off each other so well.”

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