Brad Smart delivers savage critique of Talking Lifestyle

Adam Lang responds

Brad Smart (pictured) has never been one to sugar coat his assessment of the way management run their radio stations, especially those owned by Macquarie Media.

In his latest article entitled, Talking Lifestyle: Failure is Always an Option, he takes Macquarie’s management to task over the poor ratings results for Talking Lifestyle, in particular those in Melbourne and Brisbane where the new talk brand replaced the easy listening music format on the Magic stations.

From already low but consistent ratings of between 2.0’s and 3.0’s during the Magic era, the latest GfK Survey showed Brisbane’s Talking Lifestyle down to just a 1.0 share of audience while Melbourne has an almost unmeasurable 0.4.

“There’s no denying that Magic was a problem for Macquarie,” says Mr Smart. “There were inefficiencies, revenue issues and something had to be done to cut costs. Unfortunately, a radical change in programming in Melbourne and Brisbane was always going to be the equivalent of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Mr Smart does, however, concede that 2UE has fared much better, “In a previous analysis, I reasoned that 2UE did not suffer greatly when it changed from news/talk to the magazine format, because the station was simply continuing to cater for a pre-existing talk audience. 

“In fact, when it introduced Talking Lifestyle, 2UE was able to build initially on its figures and that’s happened again in the latest survey.

“Unfortunately, I feel Macquarie management has misjudged both Melbourne and Brisbane audiences by putting its faith in ‘one size fits all’ programming.”

In response to Mr Smart’s allegations, Macquarie COO, Adam Lang started by saying, “I note Brad Smart’s commercial resume and his ongoing disposition to critique a broad range of matters regarding Macquarie Media including Talking Lifestyle.”

He went on to tell radioinfo, “The Talking Lifestyle network is a complement to our News Talk network and is continuing to establish itself as Australia’s newest radio format. As far as we are aware, it is also the first example of this radio format in the World. By definition, therefore, it will take time to define itself and earn a new audience. This is especially the case in Melbourne and Brisbane, where the long history of those stations has been a music format.

“Talking Lifestyle offers listeners the best information about all aspects of their lives, covering everything from travel, gardens and DIY to health, finance, food and real estate. These topics are clearly demonstrated to have a strong audience and commercial interest,” says Mr Lang.

Mr Smart maintains, “Macquarie’s top guns, Russell Tate and Adam Lang, can stand tall and tough it out, hoping they’ll ultimately prove the naysayers wrong. This would be radio’s equivalent of ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’, but they can wait to see if a talk audience will organically grow in Melbourne and Brisbane, as no doubt they had hoped it would back in February.

“I’d call this the ‘Fantasyland’ option. Building any audience from a 0.4 base would need the magic of Tinkerbell and Jimmy Cricket combined! It’s almost an impossible task, and, if it is possible, it’s going to take a very long time.” says Mr Smart.

Yet, according to Macquarie’s Adam Lang, cumulative audience is up. “In the last survey, we saw growth of the audience across the Talking Lifestyle network. We are working to ensure that growth continues.”

You can read Brad Smart’s full article here.



Tags: | | |