2CH goes to DAB+ only as AM1170 moves to sport in Sydney | radioinfo

2CH goes to DAB+ only as AM1170 moves to sport in Sydney

Wednesday 19 August, 2020
Andrew Voss

2CH will ditch it's AM music feed and become a DAB+ only station, as SEN launches 1170 SEN in Sydney later this year.

Pacific Star bought 2CH from EON in June, acquiring both the AM and DAB+ frequencies.

The station has now begun running messages telling listeners of the impending change and urging them to buy a digital radio from Harvey Norman.

CEO Craig Hutchison says: “We are hugely respectful of 2CH’s loyal and dedicated audience - which is why we plan to retain the brand and secure its future on the fastest-growing audio platform – digital radio.” 

The announcement was made to shareholders yesterday, with Andrew Voss unveiled as the breakfast host for the new station.

radioinfo has been inundated by listener emails objecting to what is happening to 2CH, but as sports resume with high intensity after Covid lockdowns have eased in some states, there is an appetite for sport from many other listeners. On the AM band in Sydney, 2UE might end up being the ultimate beneficiary of audience churn when the music format is switched off.

Hutchison says: “If it’s happening in sport here or around the world, 1170 SEN Sydney will take you there – with live coverage of NRL, State of Origin, Test cricket, Big Bash, A-League, AFL and racing - alongside, news, opinion and debate from the country’s biggest names in sport.
“We are honoured and thrilled that Vossy will lead the charge when we launch. He has built a truly special connection with Sydney audiences not only as as the man voted the most popular rugby league caller in the country, but as one of sport’s great all-rounders including his coverage of both Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cups and championships as well as an array of sports from surfboat racing, to touch football, to triathlons and even bull riding.
“He’ll have an opinion and drive a contemporary sports-led breakfast show.”

The AM frequency will be rebranded with the SEN livery.

Fox League’s Voss says he is excited to be joining 1170 SEN Sydney: “I've always loved radio from the moment I started my career in the media way back in 1987, so the opportunity to get back into it and create something unique was really appealing. The show is going to be a bit like reading the paper from back to front – there will be plenty of sport, but we’ll also cover what’s making news. I can’t wait to chat to listeners and take Sydney’s sporting-pulse each weekday morning.
“As someone who likes his poker, I'll put it this way, we'll be pushing our chips all-in to make a great breakfast show like no other in the market.”
Voss' breakfast show will also be simulcast on SEN’s new racing station SENTrack in Sydney on 1539AM and DAB+, which launches this Saturday 22 August. The show will also fed to SENTrack Wollongong 1575 AM and Gosford 801 AM.
Rugby league personalities Joel Caine and Jimmy Smith will continue to host the breakfast show on SENTrack until Voss joins, with the boys to then take on other roles with the station.
Gerard Whateley will also be heard live on 1170 SEN and DAB+ from 12-1pm Monday - Thursday, with other talent signings to be announced shortly.

At this stage there is no definite time frame for the launch of 1170 SEN, though there is speculation that it will come before the NRL and AFL final series.

There was plenty of speculation around the future of 2CH yesterday when, for a while, 2UE’s program took its place on DAB+ and streaming services. Various announcers apologised to DAB+ listeners who complained about the wrong feed being on air while technical arrangements were in progress to separate the AM and DAB+ studio feeds. 2CH has been pushing hard with on air promos this year encouraging listeners to purchase digital radios and migrate to digital.

In other news, SEN will launch its hybrid music/sport station SEN Spirit 621 Southwest on Monday and early September, the broadcaster will launch SENTrack 1053AM Brisbane and 1620AM Gold Coast featuring a dedicated local breakfast show with former Australian test cricketer Ian Healy and veteran sports journalist Pat Welsh – taking its SENTrack stations to nine around the country.

Related stories

Brad Smart on the future of 2CH

2CH sale an offer too good to refuse: Anatomy of the deal

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Jim 1945
21 August 2020 - 6:52am
I listen to 2CH for music. I listen to 2GB and 2KY for sport. I will not need to listen to 2CH for sport. Ratings will tell the story. Years and much money lost?
Thomas​ Koutis
21 August 2020 - 11:28am
It was very distressing to read that the radio station that I have listened to religiously for 7 years is being taken off air. I find this to be very disrespectful to the thousands of loyal listeners who tune in on a daily basis, the wonderful radio announcers and the dedicated team that put the programs together.

We are a loyal audience, almost like a family and it is just wrong to end an era with only a few days’ notice and without thoughtful consideration. 2CH is a radio station that has provided decades of entertainment, companionship and it has been a religious inspiration to so many.

To have 2CH taken off with so little regard to its audience is just disgraceful. I am very disappointed with the decision, I think it’s appalling to treat such an iconic radio station with such disrespect and I hope you to reconsider the decision.
Anthony The Koala
21 August 2020 - 7:08pm
Mr Smart was correct in his analysis that 2CH will not remain a music station, given that every radio station takeover by Croc Media has resulted in a change from a music or talk format to a sporting format at https://radioinfo.com.au/news/2ch-keep-music-format-%E2%80%99s-croc .

A radio station is a business and 2CH was losing money. The previous owners of 2CH may have been very lucky that when the ongoing business was sold and taking account of the present value of cashflows, the previous owners were likely to have broken even.

Croc Media have purchased the rights to broadcast on a particular frequencies (1170kHz and 1539kHz in Sydney) and believe that their business model will work in Sydney.

You may think that SEN's 3% rating is low in Melbourne. Still that is over ten times the audience achieved by MM's "Talking Sport" on 1278kHz. In addition, Croc Media supply other radio stations with sporting coverage which includes 2SM and 2UE. The matches on 2SM and 2UE are the same!

It's true that even though Australia is a sporting nation and gambling nation that one would think that everyone would be listening to sporting and racing coverage. It is not so. Yet despite Sky (2KY) rating poorly, it still survives and broadcasts in Sydney on three DAB+ channels and its many low power channels all over NSW. OK two of these DAB+ channels are simulcast but provision is there for three.

Most of my listening to Sydney metropolitan radio stations is via the DAB+ band which I have been listening to since 2009. Sometimes the AM version of a particular station does not broadcast the same content on its DAB+ channel. For example ABC Newsradio on the AM band may be broadcasting Our Federal Parliament while on the DAB+ channel it may be broadcasting its rolling news service. Similarly I have a choice between continuing to listen to the remainder of 2BL's (ABC702) Richard Glover's show and PM on on the DAB+ channel on Friday's between 1800 and 1900 and continue with Christine Anu's or Rebecca de Unamuno's or Emma Crowe's or whoever is presenting the show from 1900. At the same time I could choose to listen to the football on the AM band.

It follows that with 2CH, the 1170kHz frequency will be with sporting content while its DAB+ channel will be the music channel.

As an aside, I have noticed that since the takeover of 2CH by Croc Media, there was an improvement in the sound quality of 2CH's DAB+ channel. I am not talking about the 128kbs data rate, rather that the sound quality of the DAB+ channel's audio processing has changed. It sounds more 'fuller' than 2UE. I will leave out my discussion of my thoughts of "hits and memories" stations. Even with variations in the format, we are over-saturated with "hits and memories" stations and that does not include those low-power narrowcast stations.

Most AM receivers have poor audio quality and trying to establish a niche with a hackneyed format did not help increase 2CH's audience.

Given the superior quality of 2CH's 128kbs signal, the 2CH channel may well fare well. On DAB+ quality alone, 2CH's audio quality is superior to that of Smooth and definitely its Relax formats which broadcast on a lower bitrate.

The question now is will the business model of 2CH as a DAB+-only music station be sustainable and maintain if not increase its audience? Time will tell?

My critique of the Gfk ratings system is that why is there a difference in the presentation of the ratings for AM and FM stations is different to the way DAB+ stations' ratings are presented? Having a consistent way the data is presented is easier to measure and compare.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield.
Anthony The Koala
21 August 2020 - 8:02pm
However, now 2CH as a DAB+ station has downgraded from 128kbs to 48kbs. It must have been a very recent change.
Anthony of too late Belfield
Anthony The Koala
21 August 2020 - 8:08pm
My DAB+ has also received the two SEN stations. I have also noted the data rate of the following DAB+ stations.
* 2CH formerly 128kbs, now 48kbs
* SEN 48kbs
* SEN track 32kbs
* 2UE formerly 70kbs now 128kbs

Other observations:
SEN track's content is the same as Sky's two channels.

Thank you,
Anthony of late, late but observant Belfield
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