At the beginning of 2020, Marty Sheargold returned to breakfast radio and Triple M with the aptly named Marty Sheargold Show. Mediaweek caught up with Sheargold at an industry lunch at the Esplanade hotel earlier this month to talk about how he is going in his first Melbourne radio gig.
“I absolutely love it,” said Sheargold. “I love the grind of it, I’m not put off by the workload. I love the structure and discipline of having a job. Someone was talking in there before about stand up and the thing about stand up is that when you are trying to make a living out of it, there is no consistency around it. You might go 10 days without doing a gig. In 10 days, you could go to Bali! Thats too much time off. I like working.”
This role comes off the back of Sheargold spending a long spell on national radio at Nova, and Sheargold said this is actually his first role exclusive in the Melbourne market.
“In Sydney breakfast, Fi (Fifi Box) and I worked together. I’ve done Brisbane breakfast, I’ve done Adelaide breakfast. I’v gone around the country.
“The Melbourne market is a tough market to win over but I don’t think it’s any different to any other market. Changing people’s listening habits is a very difficult to do. It just takes time really, that’s all it is. It’s just a timing issue. The company’s good. They’re giving me the time to do it. There are lots of different gauges of audiences, live audience is not what it used to be.”
In the most recent GfK radio ratings survey Sheargold’s show was up 0.5 to a share of 4.5%. An interesting aspect of his show is the strong results of its podcast, with it regularly finding itself in the top 30 podcasts in the country according to the Australian Podcast Ranker, making it one of the top radio podcasts in the country. Sheargold said that this was a strong endorsement of the content from listeners.
“We take comfort in terms of knowing that the content is right because people wouldn’t be downloading that and consuming it on demand if they didn’t like it.
“I have probably brought a fair bit of audience from that national show, but I also think the pandemic’s probably tied into it. What we do know from those podcasting numbers is that only 40% of those downloads are out of the Melbourne market. The rest of it is coming outside of the city we’re broadcasting into, which is good because we are not totally cannibalising the radio show with the podcast.”
Sheargold said that this digital trend was indicative of a larger industry conversation about consumer trends and valuable data.
“With the shift to an online diary away from the old paper diaries, the streaming numbers that are coming in now to the GfK platform, and these interactive wristwatches. There’s a shift away from that old 1500 paper diaries go out into the suburbs, and people quickly tick them before the bloke comes and picks them up. I don’t know where it ends but I think it’s gonna continue to evolve and that’ll be an industry conversation about what it is and isn’t valuable data.”
When asked where he would prefer the bulk of his audience to come from, Sheargold said he would still prefer a radio audience due to the commercial outcome.
“Given it’s a commercial boost, companies rightfully want you to be where they can maximise their return. At the moment that is on the FM broadcast. That’s where I’d like the larger share of the audience to be, but I’m aware that that will take time.”
Sheargold replaced The Hot Breakfast in the Melbourne breakfast timeslot, a show that was primarily sport based, Sheargold said that while he loves sport, he is trying to broaden the content of the timeslot.
“I love sport too, so I’m happy to talk sport, but not to the degree that it was being talked about. I just think you can be a bit niche and a bit narrow. We are definitely trying to broaden that show out.”
During the event, Sheargold was asked who in the industry he would like to host his show with and he said Sam Pang, when followed up about this Sheargold sang Pang’s praises, except for one shortcoming.
“I’d love to work with Pangy, we get to work together on Have You Been Paying Attention? and we’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline for later in the year that we can’t announce just at the moment. I really love working with Sam, he is a very even-keeled, level headed man. He’s just not funny god bless him, but he’s learning!”
When asked about what international talent he would like to work with, Sheargold pointed to US comedian Bill Burr.
“I love Bill Burr, he is just brutally honest and will just do a real assessment of the world. I love that kind of humour. Right between the eyes and unapologetic. There’s so much political correctness now, and rightfully so a lot of it but geez, you can go too far. You can go too far.”