For a network that has offered listeners little change in breakfast over most of the past decade, Nova has really shaken things up at the start of 2023. The radio surveys this year will be especially revealing about programming decisions the network has made in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
To talk through the changes and the first 2023 Nova and smoothfm results, Mediaweek spoke with Nova Entertainment group program operations director Brendan Taylor. Although based in Sydney, Taylor also looks after Brisbane’s 106.9.
Nova 100: Out Chrissie, Sam & Browny, In Ben, Liam & Belle
The biggest change across the Nova network for 2023 is an all-new breakfast show in Melbourne. Taylor said there was not much wrong with the numbers the new show delivered in their first survey in their new city. “It was just a very strong first survey result for Ben, Liam and Belle. The share was very strong and to have a cume of 538,000 is a great starting point for the team.
“People know how hard they work and getting off to an early start in December and [pre-survey] in January has certainly helped the market accept them and helped them bed in the show. Of course it is still very early days coming in after such a strong show with Chrissie, Sam and Browny.”
Taylor added they are on the start of a long journey: “They are hard working, they are passionate about what they do and these things take time.”
Nova Entertainment Survey 1, 2023 other highlights
• Nova’s Ricki-Lee, Tim & Joel drive show (4pm to 6pm) #1 national drive show with 11.2% share and 1,555,000 listeners
• Nova’s Smallzy’s Surgery (7pm to 10pm) #1 night show with 9% share and cume of 722,200
• Nova Network most listened to network with a cume of 4,095,600 – 208,300 ahead of its nearest competitor
• smooth FM’s New DAB+ stations are all #1 in cume – smooth FM Adelaide 43,000, smooth FM Brisbane 69,000 and smooth FM Perth 101,000 (up 33,000)
• The Chrissie Swan Show debuts #1 across the Nova Network 2-4pm with 1,439,000
Nova 96.6: Out Sarah McGilvray, In Kate Ritchie
Ritchie doesn’t come on air until 7am in a market where Nova is playing catch-up to strong breakfasts featuring Amanda Keller and Jackie O. She replaces Sarah McGilvray who quietly disappeared before Fitzy and Wippa paid her a heartfelt on-air tribute.
Is having Ritchie start at 7am strategy for giving the show a second burst of life later in the morning? “It is something we are doing in Adelaide with Jody and Hayesy where they start at 7am. It happened for us with Sam Pang in Melbourne and Mick Molloy did it for a long time at Triple M Melbourne.
“Although the ratings have yet to reflect the change in the team, having them go up 0.9 is a good starting point for Fitzy and Wippa with Kate Ritchie. The chemistry is great between them and we will let that grow and look forward to results overcoming surveys.”
Brisbane and Perth don’t miss a beat
The results continue to see the Brisbane and Perth breakfast shows at the top of their game.
In Brisbane Ash, Luttsy and Susie O’Neill have reclaimed top spot, as has their station. “They are very passionate about what they do,” said Taylor. “There is a great chemistry amongst the three of them and their supporting cast around them including Mitch Lewis and Ange Anderson and their producers including Claudia Coy, who used to work with Smallzy’s Surgery, and Georgie Nichols. They are a real pleasure to work with.”
No late starts here, Brisbane breakfast sees Susie O’Neill on air from 6am. “They all get on so well both on air and off.”
Looking at Perth, Taylor highlighted another extraordinary performance from Nathan, Nat and Shaun with a winning breakfast share of 18.6%. “It’s the 20th year for Nathan and Nat and the incredible shares they have been getting is simply outstanding.”
Shaun McManus is the relative newcomer to the breakfast team, starting just 14 years ago!
“They are a great combination who continue to deliver survey after survey. They too have a great producing team with executive producer Amy Carter and program manager Joel Gelding.”
Nova 91.9: Out: Ben and Liam, In Jodie and Haysey
Filling the gap left by Ben, Liam and Belle (who haven’t left the market completely with a one-hour show at 6am) are long-time radio fave Jodie Oddy and sports journalist Andrew Hayes. The show gets the luxury of a 7am start. Oddy told Mediaweek’s Tess Connery recently: “The seven o’clock start helps because no one’s tired and crabby!” With a history of co-hosting successful breakfast shows, Oddy speaks from experience.
Taylor: “The market and the Nova audience know both of them. Their on-air chemistry and the connection they have already indicates it is a really good breakfast show. They already have the most-listened-to breakfast show in terms of cume.
“That’s a great start and we are really happy for them and the great team around them. It’s a good foundation for what should be a good run this year.”
smoothfm now boasts national cume of 2.5m
The decision to launch smoothfm brands on digital radio in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth seems to be quickly paying dividends. Taylor said the music network now has a national cume audience of 2.5m.
“After rolling out the DAB stations in September 2022 we now have the #1 DAB stations in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Special credit to Peter Clay who has done a fantastic job building the brand and working with the talent. Pete and team work very hard – they are relentless and very protective of the brand.
“A big shout out to Simon Diaz when you look at Melbourne and Sydney. To have the #1 show in Sydney afternoons is just outstanding and he is a great broadcaster.”
Taylor also mentioned smoothfm Sydney where it is #2 in share and cume, while in Melbourne smoothfm ranks as #3 FM in a strong radio market with competition from Gold and Fox. In the newer smoothfm market he pointed to the great work being done by Kate Mac in Perth, Nick Michaels in Brisbane and Kellie Golding in Adelaide, providing a local connection and content for listeners in those states.