Radio ratings: FM network program directors on state of war halfway through 2021

Radio ratings

Three weeks of lockdown in Melbourne didn’t help many of the FM stations

As Australia navigates its way through another Covid-impacted year, the pandemic continues to impact radio ratings as measured by GfK. The one major difference in 2021 is that, so far, the radio surveys have continued without disruption.

At the halfway mark of 2021, with four of the eight surveys complete, Mediaweek speaks to the network program directors for SCA, Nova Entertainment and ARN.

SCA: Stick to the plan to be successful

Key boast: Wins 25-54 nationally with reach of 4.84m weekly

The chief content officer for SCA, Dave Cameron, was in Adelaide on survey day this week.

Cameron explained three weeks of lockdown in Melbourne during the survey didn’t help many of the FM stations.

“It was not as severe an impact as the full month of lockdown last year. Many went down in breakfast this survey because there were no cars on the roads for three weeks. The result is a direct reflection of no one driving to work and not taking kids to school.”

Radio ratings

Triple M’s Marty Sheargold

In particular Marty Sheargold’s ratings had been hit by no commuter audience as Triple M Melbourne hit a new low. “We remain confident and comfortable how that show is building its younger footprint,” stressed Cameron.

The SCA content boss has always told Mediaweek things could get worse before they get better when building new shows.

“Triple M Melbourne breakfast is about changing an existing older audience. Marty’s national show at 3pm is #1 with males right across the country. We know he has strong appeal.

SCA has a plan for its new shows. Cameron said the company needs to hold its nerve and stay the course. “We have a few hold the course stations and hold the course shows. The only way you get results is consistency over time, building audience and loyalty.

For Dave Hughes at 2Day FM, Cameron repeats again: “It will take two years plus to build an audience. It is in a market where there is little audience movement because all the other shows have been on air for a long time with loyal audiences. We have to play the same game. It is the only game you can play to be successful.

As to the Adelaide market, Cameron admitted Survey 3 hadn’t been great for SAFM. “We went up this week though and we are expecting to head back to double figures in the next couple of surveys and tighten the race again. Triple M Adelaide was good, remains #2 FM breakfast.”

Nova: When lockdowns end, FM will rise again

Key boast: Nova most listened to metro network, #1 metro drive, #1 metro nights for radio ratings 62 surveys

Nova Entertainment chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson told Mediaweek: “In Melbourne it was a little frustrating because in the previous survey we did so well and we had marketing, but then a little lockdown happened again. You can see several of the stations who were making good ground also lose some of their share. The market seemed to dip across the board.

“I’m sure as soon as people are out and about it well impact breakfast listening.”

Also impacting the Nova Entertainment results was the Nova and smooth stations had TV campaigns in the previous radio ratings survey, said Jackson. “Survey 3, 2021 was the Nova network’s highest share of all time.”

Across the other side of the country, Jackson noted a special performance: “In Perth we have now had five consecutive surveys at #1, something we have never achieved before.

Radio ratings

Nova Perth’s Nathan, Nat and Shaun

“It has been a very consistent and strong book overall for the Nova network.”

No trouble spots for smoothfm this survey, despite its winning streak ending in Sydney. The Melbourne station managed to buck the downward trend at five of the six commercial FM stations.

“It’s been a long time in Sydney since smooth was not #1. When you have a 10 share you expect to be #1. To be #2 behind the strong performance of KIIS in Sydney doesn’t mean there are any issues with the brand.”

ARN: It’s tough to break habitual listening

Key boast: Country’s leading network since 2019, 13th consecutive winning radio ratings survey

ARN chief content officer Duncan Campbell (pictured above with Christian O’Connell) noted around the metro markets ARN is #1 10+ and also #1 25-54 too.

We have established ourselves as a leader in audio. We can really claim we are the dominant audio network in Australia.

“We have challenges in some markets, but overall we have #1 FM stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, #2 in Brisbane and #3 in Perth. It is a pretty impressive scoresheet at the moment.

Campbell said the company is closer to revealing who will be the new co-host with Jase Hawkins on KIIS 101.1, but not just yet! “We have started running teasers on air about the forthcoming change.”

Jase and PJ

Last few weeks on air for KIIS 101.1’s Jase and PJ

And the delay? “It is not a case of not having anything ready. It is a case of Covid impacting our plans for photoshoots, publicity and marketing.”

PJ is back on air with Jase from next week at KIIS Melbourne. “At some point in Survey 5 we will announce the new breakfast show.

Campbell said it is hard launching new breakfast programs against heritage breakfast shows. “Each market now has shows that have been around for a long time. Shows like Nova in Brisbane and Perth, and Kyle and Jackie O in Sydney. It’s no coincidence that the stations do well as a result of that.

Christian O’Connell is the most recent successful new launch, but he was different. He was an experienced broadcaster, but new and fresh to Melbourne. That is what is needed in other markets when you try to compete against heritage shows.

The longer a heritage show has been on air the deeper the habitual listening is. It’s something that is very hard to break.

“A new show in an established market calls out for fresh, new talent. It means taking a risk, as we did with Christian O’Connell. And when it pays off, its pay off handsomely.”

See also: Program directors on Kyle and Jackie O: World-class performers

To Top