George Buschman on ratings and Alan Jones

radioinfo spoke to Macquarie Radio CEO George Buschman, who praised the consistency of music station 2CH and the achievements of Alan Jones at 2GB.

radioinfo: We’ll get onto 2GB in a moment, but first 2CH. It’s very consistent isn’t it? Buschman: 2CH is certainly a story of consistency and PD Peter Burgham has done a great job. He really cares about the station. Burgham keeps them all on track and has a brilliant feel for the format. I think 2CH is one of the last great AM music stations anywhere in the world. Other stations have messed up that sort of format by trying to go too young, but we are continuing to do what we do so well and the audience likes it. There are some FM music stations who must be looking over their shoulders at where we are in relation to them.

radioinfo: Are you disappointed that Alan Jones lost some of his audience on 2GB breakfast? Buschman: He’s been on air for 4 months and he’s taken us from ground zero to number one breakfast – so I think we can cut him a little slack don’t you… Six months ago we were not even on the radar, now we are 0.6 of a point off the top position in the Sydney market. Our cume is continuing to increase, our time spent listening is up to 13 hours 10 minutes. It is a dream come true. We’ve had a 1.6% drop – is it annoying? Yes. Is it a problem? No.

radioinfo: How does that TSL compare with 2UE? Buschman: It’s about the same. 2UE is 13 hours and 8 minutes. radioinfo: So your lead must be coming from a higher cume. Buschman: Yes.

radioinfo: But Jones is not as strong as he used to be. Buschman: There is a clear winner in the Sydney breakfast timeslot and it’s Alan Jones. We may never see the high figures we used to see in this market for breakfast because there are new competitors such as Nova dividing up the breakfast audience into smaller segments than in the past, so no one may get to a 20 share ever again. But the point is Jones is still number one.

radioinfo: That’s interesting, a new era you think? Buschman: Yes. Another interesting thing to note is that now there are two strong commercial AM talk stations in Sydney. We have both been growing the AM talk audience and I think that is also changing the market. In the past there has been one dominant AM talk station plus the ABC, it was us for some years then it was 2UE recently. Now we are both strong, so I think that is good news for the AM band.

radioinfo: Where are the new AM talk listeners coming from? Buschman: Definitely from the FM band. We know that from people who are calling and telling us. I think our million dollar note promotion, where we letterboxed all of Sydney, made people think about turning to AM talk, and they seem to have liked what they heard and are staying around.

radioinfo: Do you think the Commonwealth Games coverage on ABC had any effect? Buschman: No. It was not there for the full survey.

radioinfo: You did not have any growth on weekends, which is strange going into the football season with you having the broadcast rights. Buschman: Don’t forget how much our weekends have already grown in the past few surveys. Our football performance is exemplary, but there comes a time when you have to think perhaps there is no more growth left for a while and we may be close to that. We have double our cume from a year ago and quadruple our share, so that’s pretty good for now.

radioinfo: Is the revenue keeping up with the increase in listeners? Buschman: We have had spectacular revenue growth. We continue to sell both stations, which reach an unduplicated cume of 887,000 people… It is almost unbelievable the increase we have had. radioinfo: How much? Buschman: We are not a public company, so it doesn’t have to be made public – so I’m not going to tell you.