Nova Entertainment’s Ben Latimer reviews smoothfm and Nova Survey 6


“An all-round good book for Nova, but smoothfm Sydney really sensational”

“Feel good” is the branding Nova Entertainment is using around the expansion of the smoothfm brand into Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

It is also a good descriptor of the mood inside the company on survey day this week as it celebrated the achievements of both radio brands across the country.

Handling the ratings call for GfK Survey 6, 2022 was Nova head of programming Ben Latimer. As well as spruiking that network, he told Mediaweek he was very pleased with sister brand smoothfm too.

It was a brilliant day for the smooth team. Getting the #1 FM crown back in Sydney was fantastic and it has a clear lead over KIIS as the most-listened-to station in Sydney with a record market cume of 1,300,000.

“A sensational performance from Bogart Torelli and Ron Wilson to have the #2 breakfast on a show that isn’t really marketed much and the music is the star. Across the rest of the day the station is #1 in morning, afternoon, drive and evening.”

smoothfm Sydney breakfast hosts Bogart Torelli and Ron Wilson

That sets the brand up nicely for what lies ahead, said Latimer: “The momentum for smoothfm will propel us into summer.

“Meanwhile, smoothfm in Melbourne is now #2 FM and that makes four consecutive GfK increases. It is a very different market to Sydney of course. In Melbourne we have Fox which is a very strong competitor. In Sydney, where we are up against 2Day FM, our smooth brand has more room to breathe.

When discussion switched to the Nova brand, Latimer started with Sydney: “This survey is the third share increase in a row for Fitzy and Wippa. However, there is clearly still more work to do. The team is working hard and there has been a renewed focus on talk topic selection and listener interaction.

Team Fitzy and Wippa

For most of the year Fitzy and Wippa has been the second most-listened-to Sydney breakfast show. I am focused at present on working with the team to help ensure they finish the year really well.

“Overall, Nova 969 remains a very strong station with 1.22m listeners. Historically summer is a good time for us and we are focusing on the city, tapping into the big events, wanting to be as hyper-local as possible.

“In Melbourne, Chrissie, Sam and Browny had another solid result in what has been a very good year. They again have the #1 cume audience in Melbourne and they have moved ahead of Fox in share. The station’s weekend share was the best of the year and it came at the pointy end of the football season.


Ben and Liam with Ben Latimer

“Adelaide deserves a special mention and Ben and Liam are perhaps best on ground for Nova in Survey 6.”

Latimer mentioned a key appointment within Nova Entertainment in Adelaide that has contributed to the ratings results in 2022. “We moved Andy Ruzgar from Fiveaa where he was executive producer for David and Will at breakfast. He came in to EP Ben and Liam back in January. Since he arrived and worked alongside Belle Jackson, the show has become a lot more focused and strategic.

“This is Ben and Liam’s third year with Nova, and with that comes a level confidence. They are more relaxed on air and not sweating the small stuff as much. This is four #1 FM books for the year for the show and we’ve never done that at Nova Adelaide before. They are now posting very consistent results.”

After Nova Perth breakfast shot to 20%+ earlier this year, there was some expectation in the market the numbers might ease a bit. That hasn’t happened. “It’s an amazing result,” agreed Latimer. “They are almost double their nearest competitor in 96FM. The Nova station cume of 672,000 has broken Perth radio records as the highest ever.”

Perth Nova’s 20% Nathan, Nat and Shaun

If Nathan, Nat and Shaun are on performance bonuses they should all be driving a Rolls Royce.

“There is a chance the team were celebrating in the West this week,” Latimer added, not wishing to comment on contract details!

While Brisbane breakfast is still the star performer in the market, Latimer admitted disappointment Nova was narrowly outrated [by B105] for #1 overall.

Ash, Luttsy and Susie remain well in front and solid as a rock for us. It is a very competitive market where all the stations are strong. There is just 0.2 separating the top two stations in share. When you look at cume, Nova Brisbane is close to 100,0000 ahead.”

stav nova

Ash, Susie & Luttsy

Nova Entertainment’s sole news/talk station deserves a special shout-out too, noted Latimer as discussion again turned to Adelaide.

“It is interesting how we have again moved ahead of the ABC after they had the edge for much of the year. It was a very unusual start to the year in Adelaide where there was a state election that ran into a federal election.

“The Fiveaa station manager Craig Munn tells me that is a one in 30-year event. If the ABC do anything well it is elections. Moving forward we now expect Fiveaa to remain in its rightful position as the dominant news/talk leader in Adelaide.

“We have had a good result in breakfast with David and Will and we put Tim Ginever into drive [alongside Rowey] back in August and the show was up 2.4 points this week.

adelaide radio ratings

David and Will

“In Adelaide, we now have the #1 AM and #1 FM which is exactly where we want to be.”

We should give a shout-out to Matthew Pantelis too where he is dominating with share of evenings on 24.3%.

Kate, Tim and Joel continue to be the network #1 drive show. “We are particularly pleased they have pulled ahead of Will and Woody in Sydney,” said Latimer. “Smallzy also had a good survey with some wild numbers in Brisbane.” How wild? Try 14.3%, up 3.2.

smoothfm on DAB+

With the smooth brand getting a wider national rollout from September 5, the existing DAB+ stations are well positioned for growth. smoothfm Perth is already #1 DAB+ as of Survey 6, 2022.
smoothfm Brisbane is #4 DAB+ (behind four stations playing 90s hits), while smoothfm is in the middle of the DAB+ pack in Adelaide.


Nova Entertainment scoreboard

Nova Entertainment (Nova and smoothfm) most listeners broadcast 6,039,000
Nova Entertainment (Nova and smoothfm) most listeners broadcast plus DAB+ 6,322,000
Nova #1 FM network in share and cume 10+, #1 FM network 25-54 in share and cume
Nova network #1 share and cume: drive (Kate, Tim and Joel), night show (Smallzy’s Surgery)
Nova Perth #1 share and cume, #1 breakfast show share and cume (Natham, Nat & Shaun)
Nova Adelaide #1 FM, #1 FM breakfast show share and cume (Ben & Liam)
Nova Brisbane #1 cume, #1 breakfast show share & cume (Ash, Luttsy & Susie O’Neill)
smoothfm #1 FM Sydney, #2 FM Melbourne
Fiveaa #1 commercial breakfast show share (David & Will)

Source: Nova Entertainment, Survey 6, 2022 media release

Top photo: Nova 100’s Chrissie, Sam and Browny with Deano

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