Looking after all of radio’s parts

As the dust settles post GfK Radio 360 Survey 2, 2024 and most of us look to the Monday April 29 launch of Kyle and Jackie O in Melbourne on KIIS 101.1 there is another discussion to be had about a radio station’s whole picture rather than the noisy and expensive parts that get the most attention.

After the awful incidents that happened on Saturday afternoon April 13 at Westfield Bondi Junction, I wondered how many Sydney and news-centred radio stations ditched their prerecorded programming and had someone live on air as events unfolded? There was a time, probably not much longer than a decade ago, when I wouldn’t even have asked needed to ask this question.

Radio surveys assess weekends all in one clump, Saturday and Sunday, 5:30am – 12 midnight. 37 hours of a maximum 48. A great many people might just be tuning in for just their beloved ABC gardening show or Nic Kelly’s new music program running on the Hit Network – just two hours of the 37 represented, but a boost to that metro station’s ratings. It feels to me that weekends, outside of Sat and Sunday mornings and live sports season scheduling, are now a wilderness of prerecords.

Especially flourishing is smooth. They were the most listened to station in Sydney on weekends. Melissa Doyle hosts from 6am – 10am on Saturday and Sunday mornings and Gary Barlow now does a Saturday evening show from 4-5pm. I’ve also discovered that aside from a local breakfast program (congratulations to Melbourne’s Mike Perso in survey 2) it looks like the rest of the day and weekend programming, for smooth, is networked across Australia.

I understand that fundamental to smooth’s success is that it provides a relaxing break from the news cycle. What I would like to see measured is where people turned to find out what was developing on Saturday afternoon, April 13. I was following news sites and socials on my phone as well as the television news for the first time in ages. I, who so passionately believe in the power of audio to help determine how we are feeling, did not seek radio until Monday morning.

Many of you will be aware that this is an extra long weekend for many Australians, with people either taking Friday off after Anzac Day or chucking a good old sickie. Perhaps, feeling a little like I do about radio’s dwindling resources towards live and local programming, The Jimmy and Nath show last night (Friday) rang Triple M, KIIS, Nova, triple j and 2GB to see if anyone else was actually in the studio.

No answer.

They went insta live to prove their point. Mitch Churi (at KIIS 1065) responded that he was on air but blocking their calls. Irrespective, the segment resonated.

One of the strongholds of radio was the power to be live and in the moment. If podcasts have the wonderful capacity to do deep dive afterwards on a topic, radio was the beating heart.

It feels like now the broadcast industry expects the world to go to sleep outside of 6am – 7pm M-F.

This week we also saw radio not read the room if I gauge it on the cringeworthy interviews The Fox in Melbourne and 2Day FM in Sydney held with Arj Barker and Trish Faranda, the mum and her baby he ejected from his comedy show.

Early in the chat Barker had with Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes from the 2Day FM’s breakfast show barker said that Hughesy had told him that he was jealous of all the media attention he was getting. Turns out most of the Australian public had already sided with Arj, but radio and TV that first morning were trying to flog the contrary.

For me, an event that states it is for 15+ but someone brings a baby is also why we put “may contain peanuts” on peanut butter labels.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, with the decrease in ratings for the ABC, 2GB Sydney losing No 1 on weekends in Survey 2 and even 3AW, while still No 1 in evenings and on weekends dropping 1.6 and 1.2 respectively (smooth Melbourne weekends was up 1.9) it shows me that people aren’t using radio as much in those times for current affairs and events anymore.

And if we aren’t the place people turn to then, preferring a networked smooth music station, when will they start doing the same on a weekday?

Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor and podcaster for Radioinfo.



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