smoothfm earthquake hits Sydney with full force

Nova Entertainment’s Paul Jackson on smoothfm success: “The best day of my radio career after nearly 30 years”

The best day of my radio career after nearly 30 years,” is how Nova Entertainment group program director Paul Jackson described survey day this week for GfK Sydney Survey 5 after finding out that smoothfm was now ranked #1 FM in Sydney.

It was nearly five years ago when Jackson arrived in Australia and started plotting what could replace the Classic Rock stations that clearly weren’t working for what was then dmg Radio in Sydney and Melbourne. Jackson pitched the smoothfm format to the CEO Cathy O’Connor and group marketing director Tony Thomas and then the trio set about implementing a plan which saw the stations launch in May 2012.

Prior to launch Jackson talked about sending “an earthquake through the marketplace…smoothfm will cut right through the market and displace everything else”.

This week other Sydney broadcasters felt the full force of that quake after noticing the landscape tremors over the previous three years.

Speaking this week, Jackson noted the success without a marketing-leading breakfast share, explaining: “The days are long gone when people were asking ‘when are you going to get a breakfast show’. Breakfast now has a share of 5.9%.” That puts the timeslot hosted by Bogart Torelli and featuring newsreader Glenn Daniel less than a point behind the Nova 969 and Triple M breakfast shows. “Bogart and Glenn are wonderful professionals and known to the audience and they create a different show to what everyone else is doing.

As to the reason why smoothfm is now performing better than the Melbourne station, Jackson referred to different dynamics at play. “Hamish and Andy clearly have more gravitas in Melbourne than they do elsewhere. Fox is a stronger brand there. Hughesy and Kate are also from Melbourne. We have to work hard to keep pace in Melbourne. We could be talking about Melbourne being #1 soon too.”

Jackson acknowledged the help that the $100,000 cash prize might have had at smoothfm, but he added they weren’t the only people offering large prizes. “What this result shows is that consistency counts. We have been close to our current 8.2% before.

The Nova Entertainment pitch to audiences is kept pretty simple when it comes to smoothfm. It’s the music. “We are on in many more workplaces than anyone else for sure,” said Jackson. “It’s all about the workday. We build that, then people discover weekends, then its nights and then we lock in some drive performance and the last place to build will be breakfast.”

The focus for the rest of 2015: “Try not to mess it up and keep on with what we are doing.”

Photo: smoothfm celebrates survey day August 2015
[L-R] Richard Wilkins, Melissa Doyle, Bogart Torelli, Cathy O’Connor, Paul Jackson, Byron Webb, Peter Clay, David Campbell and Ron Wilson

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