This is a format about love and passion for pop songs – Audio and transcript

Dave Cameron tells Peter Saxon why HIT’s gone and where it’s Going.

It’s been a long time coming but this morning SCA announced some big changes in music and marketing of its HIT Network.
The metro stations are dropping the HIT moniker and going back to their heritage branding. 
The content will be targeted to 30-54 year olds with a female skew.
New names will be heard in Breakfast on SAFM and on the Gold Coast but Jamie Angel will keep pumping out the hits on 2Day-FM for at least the immediate future.
Peter Saxon caught up with SCA Chief Content Officer, Dave Cameron this morning for a chat about the changes and what’s still to come.

Listen to the audio or read the transcript below.

Cameron: Not a great day to launch stations when you can’t be in markets. But, unfortunately, that’s the circumstances, isn’t it. 
radioinfo: So, today’s announcement means that the HIT brand is being dropped from all the metro stations. Except Perth’s 92.9…
Cameron: We already had two of our flagship stations that never took on the HIT branding which was FOX and 2Day. So, essentially where we’re changing back two stations – we’re leaving Perth at this stage – and we’ll retain the HIT brand as the overarching network brand. Plus, the names of all of our regional and provincial markets.
radioinfo: I see on the new collateral, which looks very nice, Perth’s 92.9 is now shown as just HIT, with a squiggle logo, but without any city or frequency identification.
Cameron: You’ve got good eyes
radioinfo: I know but it hits out at you (no pun intended) because the FM playbook says you tell them the frequency and where you are and this is devoid of that. It just says hit and a squiggle.
Cameron: We’ll have more announcements about Perth in due course.
radioinfo: And what about the other 45 provincial and regional stations. What happens there?
Cameron: They all stay HIT. We don’t change any of those. And we are still proudly the HIT network. But what we’ve done is we’ve returned our legacy Metro brands that being – those that are in survey for 90 percent of the year – back to their heritage brands similar to 2Day and Fox, that we never changed.  So, we’ll have SAFM in Adelaide, B105 in Brisbane, Fox Melbourne,  2Day and then we’ll have further announcements around Perth when we get that timing right in that market.
radioinfo: Now, I understand that SAFM will be extended even further. It says in the media release: HIT 96.1, Mount Gambier will also rebrand to SAFM, delivering a strong unified South Australian radio station.
Cameron: That’s right.
radioinfo: Does this mean Adelaide will be piped in to Mount Gambier?
Cameron: No. No. it’s just a station rebranding. We thought it made sense. given that we only have two stations in South Australia, that we would join them together and create a micro network for South Australia which is under the SAFM brand. Adelaide and Mt Gambier are very connected. And it made sense that we connect those two stations together as well.
radioinfo: But the content will be local, you’re saying in Mount Gambier?
Cameron: It will. In every market our local content compliance and quota doesn’t change.
radioinfo: Run us through the talent changes please.
Cameron: So this morning we announced Lehmo to join Beck and Causey in Adelaide. Lehmo’s an Adelaide boy through and through. Ironically, we haven’t been able to get him into Adelaide today because the South Australian Premier has blocked the borders to fine upstanding Victorians. But Lehmo spends a significant amount, of time in Adelaide. We intended to do a hybrid show where he would come in and out of the market. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to be allowed into Adelaide. However still fantastic to hear him back on SAFM .
Bianca Dye has joined a Breakfast show on the Gold Coast and she’s a fantastic addition to today’s announcement as well.
radioinfo: But there’s no new breakfast show for 2Day-FM. It’s still Jamie Angel pumping out the hits. Will that change any time soon?
Cameron: I would imagine that when we have. Some more exciting news to announce in due course then, we’ve always said, that when the time is right, we will complete 2Day-FM.
What’s the holdup? Let’s face it’s the flagship station and probably more in need of refurbishment than any other station in the network. Is it a talent issue that you’ve gone after perhaps a few people who turned it down?
Cameron: No not at all. No it’s just it’s a timing issue for us. It’s getting the right to having the right conversations with the right people and looking at the right timing so that market.
radioinfo: It must be frustrating. I know that last time we spoke, in April, you told me, “you can assume that I’m never going to be happy with a ratings result that’s sitting where it is in Breakfast at the moment.”
Cameron: Absolutely. Yeah.
radioinfo: So it’s coming, it’s coming. We wait with baited breath.
The new target demo is 30 to 54 year-olds with a female skew. Where does that position the stations musically on the dial? Somewhere between the old CHR and ARN’s pure gold network?
Cameron: To be brutally honest Peter, I’m moving away from the old paradigms of American music formats. I don’t necessarily think they’re completely relevant anymore. 
Where we’re moving is to a position of Great Pop Hits and great pop favourites. And we’re putting together a format that doesn’t necessarily fit under the standard Americanised cookie cutter of CHR or HOT AC anymore. This is a format about love and passion of pop songs for a female audience. It’s a broader format than under 40. 
When you have a look at the last five or six years, Top 40 radio has really been in somewhat of a decline where formats with familiarity, a bit of nostalgia, still tapping into some current hits but not necessarily making it a pure Top 40, have really become a force to be reckoned with as a radio format. And you can see that in L.A., you can see that in London and you can see that in New York. You can see that in most major cities around the world where pure Top 40 is not necessarily the powerhouse it once was.
radioinfo: Can you give us some idea of the tracks you’d play in a typical rotation?
It will cover, in essence 90s, noughties and now. It will focus very much on a pop flavour. It’ll cover artists from those early 90s pop songs, from NSYNC through to Alanis Morissette and through to Timberlake, right through to current hits of now.
radioinfo: Will there be less talk or more?
We’ve never been a high talk format, so you can assume that we’ll continue to let the music star.
radioinfo: Right. But you still have a strong comedy line-up. 
Cameron: Oh absolutely. 
radioinfo: On the “no longer” hit brand. Is it still called the HIT network nationally?
Cameron: Yes. So, you’ve 45 hit stations.
And then you have the heritage capital city stations that will be a part of the network and they’re all joined under the one logo in look and feel. The other thing that we have been doing here, and I guess one of the challenges that I had coming into the role, was to get a consistent approach for the HIT network. 
We had sort of bits and pieces and that inevitably happens over time when you have different markets that go into different franchises and every network has them. And you get a sort of breakaway outlier in the network and one of my challenges and something I’ve been pretty keen to solve, has been the uniformity of the identity of the HIT network back again through a local filter. SAFM in Adelaide, when you have a listen to the format and the production, it won’t be dissimilar to Melbourne, it won’t be dissimilar to HIT in Cairns or anywhere else in between. It will have its own unique sound and personality and unique identity.
radioinfo: Is there any appetite for either network – Triple M or the HIT network – to move into an FM Talk format?
Cameron: No, not from us. We do, I guess, our FM version of that on Triple M’s HOT Breakfast with Eddie (McGuire). But no, we will primarily remain with music based formats across the company.
radioinfo: So, briefly what are the other shoes yet to drop? Obviously 2Day-FM and a breakfast team – what are the other shoes to drop in the networks – either Triple M or 2Day, that you are now rebuilding?
Cameron: What other announcements? Just stay tuned Peter, I’m not going to give you that.
radioinfo: Gee, I thought I’d trick you into it.
Cameron: What I’ll say is, today is a big new starting line for us. It is not the finishing line. This is where we start. This is where we rebuild our identity as a uniform, strong, broader network as part of a duopoly strategy.
radioinfo: Dave Cameron thank you so much, as always.

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