​Picking through the pieces after survey one

It was, no doubt, the survey of the century. A genuine game changer. Craig Bruce, Duncan Campbell and Paul Jackson survey the scene

In the history of Australian radio, only  John Laws and Alan Jones have been able to take an audience with them from one station to another. But neither of them have moved so much of their audience in just one survey like Kyle and Jackie O just have.

Realistically, most pundits expected significant movement from 2Day to KIIS, but none expected this – least of all SCA’s Craig Bruce and ARN’s Duncan Campbell who dared not wish for this result.
“Not in my wildest dreams,” says Campbell. “I’d run a lot of scenarios around my head but this one wasn’t one of them. I think it demonstrates very clearly the power of a big breakfast show and why you don’t let those big breakfast shows go.”

Over at SCA, Craig Bruce admits that when the decision was made to let their breakfast team go, they expected 2Day’s ratings to take a hit, but nothing like this. “I guess a 3.8 is at the lower end of the expectations. But we knew we were going to lose a large chunk of audience and we didn’t know how big that audience was going to be. Now we know.”

The station more than halved it’s share from an 8.4 to 4.0, while the Breakfast shift plummeted from a 10.4 share to just 3.8, level pegging with Radio National and behind both 2UE and 2CH. This is unchartered territory, at least in this century, for what was the flagship of the SCA duopoly.

Meanwhile, at the newly rebranded Nova Entertainment bunker, Group Program Director Paul Jackson, has been a spectator on the sidelines watching this epic battle between SCA and ARN unfold. He told radioinfo last year “They (Kyle and Jackie O) are not going to take all the listeners with them so actually an average will be somewhere in between for those stations (2Day and KIIS). Which, in theory would leave them behind Nova,”

While he didn’t quite see the magnitude of change coming either, Jackson nonetheless contends the result is good for his stations “These numbers  say to me Nova and smooth are unscathed. Smooth performed exceptionally well. I’d rather we talked about that. It’s a two horse race here and we just switched the competitor really from SCA over to ARN so it’s a NOVA /ARN battle and it’s very exciting going forward.
“But to touch on the movement from 2Day to KIIS… it was always going to cause a seismic shift between those two radio stations. It was just a question of, how much? What we’ve actually seen is that 2Day performed so poorly, which is to KIIS’ benefit. I think it will settle down in the coming books,” says Jackson.

Bruce agrees to an extent, but backs his breakfast team, saying, “I don’t think that the report card today is any reflection of Jules Merrick and Sophie. The reality is that it was a bit scratchy to start with, no question. But its an improving show that gets better every day. We need to improve the sound of the show and that will take a period of time.

Fitzy and Wippa are a great example. They’ve had almost 3 years of  consistent programming and marketing, They launched at a 6.8 and they’re 7.8 now. Its taken them 2 ½ years to grow a point. I’m not suggesting its going to take us 2 ½ years to move from a 3.8 to a 4.8 but the reality is that brekkie radio never moves quickly unless what happened today happened and this is a once in a blue moon event. But the process of building a brand and building an audience takes time but we understand that and are prepared for that journey however long that takes,” says Craig Bruce.

While SCA looks towards rebuilding for the future, ARN is focused on capitalising on the here and now. Campbell says, “I’m very determined that our strategy is executed well throughout the group. We are confident but we are not going to be cocky and arrogant about it.”

SCA had powerful arguments to let Kyle and Jackie O go. Kyle had cost the company plenty through several breaches of the broadcast codes, yet he reportedly wanted double the money to stay. The board of directors probably thought he was simply more trouble than he was worth. But ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure,’ and ARN had little hesitation in grabbing the proven ratings champs to change the fortunes of its low rating Mix station in Sydney.
Duncan Campbell told radioinfo last December, “It’s very difficult to build a successful breakfast show. You know the old saying in radio: ‘You either build or you buy.”
So far, the gamble has paid off handsomely for ARN, but have they bought a monster that will land the hitherto squeaky clean network in hot water with advertisers and the ACMA?
According to Campbell, “The stories about Kyle’s behaviour are just myths as far as I can ascertain. He’s been a dream to work with – they both have.

“I think it comes down to how you manage them. We set this up as a partnership between ARN and Kyle and Jackie O and they’ve been involved in the development of the station and the marketing and all the other elements of putting KIIS 1065 together. And they keep on telling us that they’ve never been happier,” says Campbell.

There was more to yesterday’s ratings than just the impact of KIIS and Kyle and Jackie O. Tomorrow we’ll bring you what the Three Wise Men of FM had to say about that.

See our ratings reporting here and here

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