Peter Saxon asks Gemma Fordham
To be honest, it wasn’t a great survey for SCA’s HIT Network. It’s been a while since they’ve had a slew of big wins. Even Melbourne’s FOX which was, until recently the network’s flag bearer has been toppled by GOLD 104.3 from the #1 FM spot in that city.
But Network Head of Content, Gemma Fordham managed to find some rays of sunshine amongst the clouds. “I think the Brisbane result today, for the brekky show to be number one there, is exceptional. I know how hard they (Stav, Abby & Matt) worked for it.”
Gemma also singles out the FOX Breakfast team with Fifi, Fev and Byron. Fifi Box has been on maternity leave which has caused some disruption to the show. “The fact that we’ve ridden it out and Fifi’s back on air makes me very confident” observes Gemma, “And although they’re not number one in terms of share, they’re still number one in terms of the number of people in Melbourne who were listening to their show. So, they’ve done remarkably well to navigate through. It’s been very disruptive. But we’ll be back to our full glory imminently and, in fact, the show has been on fire in the last week. I’m very sure we’ll go back to number one.”
She finds even more sunshine in Perth where 92.9 rallied with a +1.4 gain to reach double figures for the first time in a long time. “We’ve always been right at the back of the pack in Perth, so it’s nice to see them closing the gap and produce our best result we’ve had in many, many years.”
While the HIT Brand is not devoid of upside, it’s impossible to have a serious discussion about its prospects without addressing the state of 2DayFM in Sydney. After six different Breakfast shows in as many years, the station has foregone a personality driven breakfast team and installed veteran jock, Jamie Angel instead, to simply play the hits.
The results, so far, are not promising. In Survey 7, 2Day was down to a 3.9 share overall with Breakfast on 2.6. Surely, it can’t go on like this. Surely, there’s a new breakfast team being announced at some point for next year.
“No there is not!” says Gemma emphatically, “And I’m interested by that thought because there’s another station in the market that’s just music (smooth) and they’ve obviously survived.
“We’ve put in ‘music for breakfast’ as a strategy for a reason. We have always said we’ve got to try something different with 2Day and that the opportunity of putting in music is not just a point of difference, it also allows to cleanse. We’re cleansing and we’re starting again – and we really need to do that with 2Day. That’s what that decision has allowed us to do. So, there will be no new show going in next year.”
Now Gemma, who has recently completed her MBA, gets down to business.
“The important thing is that our revenue hasn’t decreased at all. In fact, our revenue has increased. You have to look at a show that’ s costing you a significant amount of money. Or do you rate the same number and have an entirely different strategy and approach that actually doesn’t have an impact on revenue at all.”
Still, in a competitive and highly sophisticated market like Australia, it’s hard to accept that its biggest player would be happy to allow its once proud flagship in the nation’s biggest city to languish in 9th place on a lowly 3.9 share indefinitely.
Yet, some cynics (which seem over-represented in radio) suggest that SCA has given up on 2Day. I put this to Ms Fordham, who won’t have a bar of it.
She says, “We have a strategy. We have a very good strategy. We’re very proud of the work we’ve done over the past few years for the network. We’re not waking up each day going ‘Oh, let’s just see what the day brings us and let’s just have a roll of the dice.
“There is a very clear long-term plan in place for the network for the next five years. The board, the shareholders the people of the business are absolutely across our strategy and they’re fully supportive of it.
“But I’m certainly not going to sit here and hand over my entire strategy. I’m actually being responsible by holding my cards close to my chest,” says Gemma Fordham.