The real story about Sydney in GfK radio ratings Survey 4 was Kyle and Jackie O, not that 2GB is on the way out. (It’s not.) The big news is that an FM station found a way to build a bigger audience than a veteran market leader.
Mediaweek spoke to the three content bosses for the commercial FM networks about the breakout ratings success for Kyle and Jackie O this week. While the program itself a rule-breaker, the path to their success is also textbook.
How ARN secured radio’s biggest stars Kyle and Jackie O
ARN chief content officer Duncan Campbell spoke to both Kyle and Jackie on ratings day to congratulate them. “15.5%…that is amazing,” he said several times during our interview.
That’s a number that Campbell won’t forget in a hurry. He knows the radio stars best and was instrumental in signing them when they moved from SCA to ARN.
“Some people may think they don’t care about ratings as much as they should,” said Campbell. “But they certainly do care and they were ecstatic about the result. Kyle was really happy and sounded almost like a kid in a candy store.”
As well as paying tribute to the hosts, Campbell also noted the good work of what he calls the breakfast “machine” that supports the show. “The KIIS 1065 breakfast result is also a tribute to Derek Bargwanna, the KIIS content director, who is one of the best in the country.
“The station overall sounds very impressive at present and I would go so far as to say it is one of the world’s great CHR stations.”
When asked to recall the negotiations that secured the broadcasters from 2Day FM, Campbell said: “Kyle originally approached us. Even so, we had lots of discussions wondering if we were being played! We thought that once SCA realised they might lose Kyle and Jackie, they would drop dollars on them pushing them out of our reach.”
Campbell said as soon as they signed their new breakfast hosts, they abandoned a potential plan to keep the name Mix FM, and worked on the KIIS FM rebrand.
“Prior to being approached by Kyle, we had never imagined that we’d ever have Kyle and Jackie O. In a way we realised that was probably the only solution to our problems.”
Regarding the starting salaries, Campbell admitted it was more than what ARN was used to paying breakfast talent. “The initial deal was done in good faith and a lot of trust. We simply paid them what they were getting at SCA. The deal wasn’t signed until the day they left 2Day FM.”
Campbell never had any doubt the duo would work hard. He’d crossed paths early on in both their careers and seen what they had to offer. With Sandilands when they both worked in Perth, and then later on when Jackie and Phil O’Neil were working at Triple M Adelaide.
“They have always both been very involved in all key decisions since they joined us and have maintained a passion for that show that is unprecedented. There is a strong support team, but there are two of the world’s best presenters out front. It’s certainly a winning combination.”
Nova won’t try and compete with talent after 9am
Nova Entertainment chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson competes fiercely with KIIS and ARN around Australia. He paid tribute to the Sydney leaders and noted they have set a mark that is unlikely to be beaten.
“That is a fantastic number they have achieved,” Jackson told Mediaweek. “It is an amazing achievement to have been so successful on two networks over so many years. Not many hosts could say at this stage of their career they could do their best numbers of all time. To do over a 15% share in such a competitive market is genuinely extraordinary.”
When asked if Kyle and Jackie O’s 15% share could be a target for his stations, Jackson grinned: “To be realistic it’s probably not our target. Kyle and Jackie have a unique show and I am sure they always thought they could eventually beat 2GB. It might be something they can’t achieve every single time, but you can say nothing but ‘well done’ when they achieve those numbers.”
Part of Kyle and Jackie O’s success is staying on air well after all their competitors have signed off.
When asked if Jackson had ever considered running Fitzy and Wippa after 9am he replied: “I’d rather hear the music. There are some shows that might make sense for. Although there would be some who might like Nova breakfast going longer, there would also be a big group who would like to hear the music after 9am.”
SCA: ‘We target people who don’t listen to KIIS’
SCA’s chief content officer Dave Cameron is rebuilding two Sydney FM stations very much currently in the shadow of KIIS 1065.
“We are not targeting Kyle and Jackie O, we are targeting people that don’t listen to Kyle and Jackie O,” Cameron admitted to Mediaweek.
His recipe for success is about “staying the course and being consistent” which is the plan for new SCA shows around the network. (More about that tomorrow.)
“The only way you get results in radio is consistency over a long period of time. You need to build an audience and build the audience of that period.
“That’s what Kyle and Jackie O have done over a long period. Sydney is now very much a Kyle and Jackie O town and they are getting fantastic results for that show. It’s a great show.”
Cameron said they are the case study of what can be achieved by sticking to a plan. “It’s the only way to do it. The Hot Breakfast with Eddie McGuire is another example. For three years it was around 3% or slightly better, then it climbed to 8% for many years.
“You have to persist and you have to build an audience.”