Ad demand increasing, staff give some WFH time to charity: Nova’s Peter Colosimo

NOVA Entertainment was quick to implement altered working from home arrangements for the majority of staff as a result of Richard Wilkins’ early positive COVID-19 test.

Steve Ahern zooms in to NOVA Entertainment’s Group General Manager Peter Colosimo to find out how the network is handling remote working and its plans for returning to the office environment. He also discovers how the Jobkeeper program has allowed staff with excess capacity to spend time volunteering their time to help the community.

“Like most businesses impacted by COVID-19 we have had to adapt the way we work and none more so than our on-air teams. The first on-air team impacted was our Sydney Breakfast Show with Fitzy, Wippa, Sarah, Matt, with the team broadcasting from their individual homes, from five locations, for the first time on Tuesday 17 March.

“It has created challenges however one of the wonderful outtakes of broadcasting from homes has been to pull back the curtain of their lives and remind everyone of the power of radio and theatre of the mind. Listening to Fitzy talk to his boys live on-air from home, Sarah’s honesty of the challenges with young children and surviving isolation really emphasised the one to one relationship that radio audiences have with our on-air teams.”  

While the network’s on-air teams now have the capability to broadcast from home, a majority of them have elected to remain in studio, with increased safety measures in place for those that do.  
Beginning with the Sydney office, from 16th March, 450 of Nova’s non-broadcast staff began working from home.

“It was a test for our technology teams, we are proud to say that we had a very sooth transition to work from home with Microsoft teams being our platform of choice, enabling effective communication throughout the business. The balance of off-air staff are working from home effectively and utilising the technology available to ensure ongoing team collaboration within the operations. Since WFH commenced we have seen a 1000% increase in video calls and meetings, a 300% increase in instant chat messages and almost every single NOVA staff member is now running their daily work life (meetings, personal dialogue, inter-office calling) online via Teams.”

While working from home was a smooth transition from a technology and communication perspective, Nova has also been very aware of the impact that COVID-19 and isolation can have on people’s mental health. The network has implemented various initiatives to ensure staff have all the support they require to get through this period, including daily update sessions called ‘Good Morning Nova’ and a light hearted afternoon catch up.

“‘Good Morning Nova’ initially started as daily updates from the Group Executive team, providing our staff with a window into the lives of our leadership team’s work from home experiences as well as imparting essential communication and information on Government changes and updates that affect their work and lives. ‘The Afternoon laugh’ is a daily meme or humorous content to start driving a sense of culture in our new virtual environment.​ Further to these initiatives, all our people managers have received high level training on how to identify signs of anxiety and social isolation within their teams, so they can be equipped with the skills on how to support our staff through COVID-19.”


“From a commercial perspective we are operating in a challenging environment and like all media businesses, our revenue has been impacted by COVID-19. As a result, we have implemented NOVA Entertainment’s business sustainability plan that involves some key decisions in an attempt to protect employee’s jobs, reduce costs and ensure the viability of the business once this crisis is over.”

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, business continuity has been one of the key focuses of the NOVA Entertainment leadership team so that they have “a clear, consistent lens” on delivering continuity across broadcast, technology, commercial and people.

“The Business Continuity Team’s remit has been to ensure clear, effective operational guidance is provided to deliver continuity of our business during this current environment and to be agile and adapt the business operations across a range of areas including broadcast, WFH and employee support, COVID-19 case management and technology solutions.

“One of the major considerations was how to utilise our workforce. With the support of the Government JobKeeper program we have redeployed excess working capacity and resources to philanthropic endeavours to help the community through the challenging impact of COVID-19.

“Through the lens of our listeners, business partners and staff, we have looked at the opportunities for NOVA Entertainment to focus our resources and excess capacity to supporting the community and those affected by the impacts of COVID-19.”


Nova Connects, NOVA Entertainment’s social impact arm, partners with community organisations to drive positive social change. Colosimo explains how staff have expanded their work in these areas during this time.

“Taking our charitable efforts beyond tactical charitable giving and utilise the full spectrum of the business to ignite conversation, bring profile to various social issues, and drive change has never been more important than at this time.

“Nova Connects initiatives include support for food, health and hygiene products through ‘Share the Dignity Charity’ and ‘OzHarvest’ where we have used our brand and promotions staff to assist with the design and execution of a creative on-air and digital fundraising and awareness campaign.

“Where possible we are also using our street teams and vehicles (pending appropriate health and safety requirements being met) to deliver contactless products in each state to charity drop off points.

“Another great initiative we are supporting through this period is ‘Sisterworks’, a not-for-profit that exists to help migrant women, asylum seekers and refugees to become financially independent and happily settled in Australia. This organisation normally facilitates an income for this community via its permanent and pop up shops selling the products made by these women to provide much needed income and financial independence. This income stream has been closed down during COVID-19 and in addition, the refugee and migrant community does not have access to Government income support.”


Colosimo has seen advertising demand increase significantly in the last few weeks across all metro markets.

“The average number of advertising briefs being worked on this month by Create, our branded content team, is now over 80% of the volume we were experiencing pre COVID with the average monetary value per brief the same as last year. There has been a significant demand for faster turnaround times in a much more short-term market.
“Government, finance, grocery and telecommunications are all categories that spent similar amounts with us in April as they did last year, while the amount of revenue into April was up on the same month last year.

Listening on streams, smart speakers and podcasts is also up.

“Live broadcast radio continues to play a critical companionship role and our streaming numbers continue to increase as a result.
“In April streaming listeners on 14 stations across the Nova and smooth Networks increased to 1.7 million, an increase of 116.4% YOY and Total Listening Hours increased by 24.6% YOY to 6.1 million. From Jan – April alone there was a 25% increase in Active Sessions, 20% increase in Total Listening hours and 60% increase in Cume.” (source: TritonWebcastMetric)

“Since January 2020 to April this year, we’ve seen a 23% increase cumulative listening on smart speakers (source: TritonWebcastMetric) and a 30% increase (24.88 million) in Podcast listens from January to April 2020 (source: Acast).”


“Looking ahead we have developed our ‘Office Re-Entry Plan’ which has been built against the framework of the Federal Government ‘Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia’ and is underpinned by an approach of flexibility for our people where everyone’s individual circumstances are considered and catered for.

“COVID-19 may well be the most challenging event our generation of leaders has faced to date and whilst it has seen a dramatic impact on our business operations and commercial models, we believe that with a long term view to rebuilding, NOVA Entertainment can continue to be an enduring and outperforming audio entertainment business.”

Peter Colosimo’s WFH office has occasional visits from his son Piero and includes a bookshelf containing management books such as ‘The Naked CEO,’ ‘Win in Business’  and ‘The Art of Argument,’ plus business self development volumes including ‘From Me to You’ and ‘The Culture Bode.’ It looks like Peter’s leisure reading includes true crime titles such as Trace, a sports biography of Tim Cahill and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’





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