​Has Olympus Fallen or will 3AW bounce back? And is the Today network still number one?

Harsh words apply blow torch to bellies of Fairfax and SCA management. Comment from Peter Saxon.
“Well ‘Olympus Has Fallen’! No real surprise to those who are keen and informed students of surveys and programming,” writes Mike the Influencer in the radioinfo comments section. “3AW has been on the slide for 2 years and everyone has been in denial about it. Funny that would be about the same time a new FRN head honcho came in.”
In response, someone who wishes to be known simply as “Adam” posted this denial, “What a crock of nonsense. ‘Olympus has fallen’? Hardly. For anyone prepared to have an unbiased look at the results it is obvious 3AW remains a mighty force with the Melbourne audience.
“So Mike – while attempting a view outside your own spleen seems to be challenging can I just suggest you ‘man up’ and give it a roaring try.” Adam.
Read the full exchange in What You Think
While these combatants preferred to remain anonymous, there were no pseudonyms as the gloves came off in the three cornered contest between the main commercial FM networks with both Nova Entertainment and ARN accusing SCA of spinning their position to claim number one status when clearly they’re not according to last Tuesday’s survey results. As Nova’s Paul Jackson put it, “I think they’ve shuffled the deck chairs around to make a pretty pattern.”
SCA’s Craig Bruce maintains that they’re entitled to promote themselves as the network with the largest audience given that they own leading stations in huge population hubs such as Newcastle, Gold Coast and Canberra, plus 35 regionals – markets where the other networks have no presence.
While that’s true, the others are crying foul because its not exactly comparing apples to apples. Or, more specifically, share to share or cume to cume. Read more of what they had to say here.
At Fairfax, at least they can now say of their 2UE breakfast show that it’s level pegging with 2Day-FM’s.
Meanwhile at 3AW, where the removal in November 2012 of Derryn Hinch in favour of Tom Elliott has been much criticised, the latest survey shows Elliott’s Drive show as the only shift on the whole station to improve (0.7) while the others declined, including bankable stars Ross Stevenson and John Burns (down 0.7) and mornings hero Neil Mitchell (down 1.3).
But while “Mike the Influencer” (who likely regrets that “Impaler” was already taken) wonders why heads aren’t rolling at Fairfax Radio or, for that matter, why Max’s Axe hasn’t fallen at SCA, perhaps it’s because management has done a good job of convincing their respective boards that radio is a cynical cyclical business. Even the bible tells us that seven years feast is followed by seven years famine.
Or, if you prefer, the words of Bob Dylan, And the first one now, Will later be last, For the times they are a-changin’.

Whether board members accept the word of God or that of Dylan, do they want management to simply accept it too and patiently await the inevitable or would they rather they try to stay ahead of the curve by making generational changes before the current line-up’s use-by date?
If it’s the latter, then the board is obligated to stick with management’s long term plan even if it means some pain in the shorter term.
What both the Fairfax and SCA boards of directors would know about radio is that it starts with a winning breakfast show. “You can either build one or buy one,” says Duncan Campbell at ARN. “Building one takes a long, long time. Buying one is quicker.” He should know.
With shows worth buying coming on the market about as often as Bill Caralis’ stations, Campbell hit the jackpot with the purchase of Kyle and Jackie O. Prior to that he’d been struggling to build a viable breakfast show on Mix 106.5. And remember it was he that in 2011 gave his heritage breakfast duo Grubby and Dee Dee the flick from GOLD in Melbourne in favour of ripping Brig and Lehmo away from sister station Mix 101.1 and replacing them with Chrissie Swann and Jamie Rowe, then later Jane Hall.
He told radioinfo at the time, “These are obviously major changes for ARN. I’ve made no secret of the fact that we are determined to be more competitive in Melbourne next year and we need breakfast to work on both stations for that to happen.”
After three years those shows are still “building.” It’s likely to be a long process of rebuilding, brick by brick, for 2Day and 2UE too. But for 3AW, the building’s far from condemned just yet.

 Peter Saxon

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