The ARN National Content Director, Duncan Campbell, was in an ebullient mood when radioinfo caught up with him soon after the release of Survey 2. Why wouldn’t he be? “It is the first time in ARN ‘s history to be number one in three markets, he told us. It’s a big one. Obviously the star of the show is WS-FM knocking off 2Day after 7 years. It’s only 0.1, but we’ll take that, thank you very much,” he tells us with about as much emotion as a poker pro holding a 6, 7 unsuited.
With WS remaining steady on an 8.5 share, one could argue that it didn’t actually beat 2Day so much as 2Day lost it’s crown when it fell from its perch on 9.3 by one point too many. Campbell observes, “I think, with 2Day-FM, there have been signs of the station softening a little bit over the last 12 months. It is still a very strong radio station obviously, but WS has been slowly improving based on the trends over time while, I think, 2Day-FM has been softening over time – so it makes for a really interesting battle.”
It was good news for the Classic Hits brand in Melbourne too with GOLD piling on 1.7 to get to overtake Nova 100. “What’s interesting,” says Campbell, “is that you are seeing great strength in these adult formats and GOLD is similar to WS. If you look at the trends over the last couple of years it’s been improving year on year and they’ve had a great result this time around.
“A lot of work went into quarter one of that Breakfast show which has delivered it’s best result in three years. It’s also the best result for GOLD (overall) since survey one, 2010. I am very happy about that one, particularly since it’s the beginning of the football season – though Triple M has had a good result around the country as well. But I think GOLD’s one the watch this year,” says Campbell.
In Brisbane ARN’s 97.3 retained it’s # 1 position by the skin of it’s teeth with both Nova and a resurgent B105 keen to depose it.
“I still expect Brisbane to be a Nova / 97.3 battle. I think its too early to call it for B105. There is no real trend there yet. It’s a very tight market in Brisbane. Our goal is to be # 1 there, and we’ve managed to do that so far this year. So, while the numbers are important for us, it’s the overall position of the station too. Yes, we took a bit of a hit but it had a huge end to last year. But I’ve always said that I expect that market to be tight going forward,” says Campbell.
It’s a similar situation in Adelaide where Mix 102.3 holds the lead. Campbell says, It is a very strong radio station, sitting at 15 with the closest FM station in single figures. So we are very happy with Mix. It’s got a strong breakfast show. It’s well positioned it will perform well for the rest of the year.
But Campbell concedes that not all is rosy with the Mix brand. “The two isssues we’ve got as a network are Mix in Sydney and Mix in Melbourne. The reality is that we are in the process of rebuilding Mix in Sydney. We drew a line in the sand at the end of last year and said, ‘look lets get this thing right.’ So in terms of expectations and results, well, they are fairly low for the first couple of quarters, to be honest. We are really looking towards the latter part of the year for some growth in those stations.
“But there is a clear plan. We are working through the plan and executing it methodically and today’s result doesn’t deviate us from the plan so that gives you an indication of the sort of confidence we have in it.”
On a brighter note, Tim Ross had a good book in Drive in Sydney, up 0.7.
“It has been a good rise,” says Campbell, “That’s been a surprise show for us this year. It’s not as talk intensive as the other drive shows. It is different. He is full of enthusiasm and passion in terms of the effort he puts into the show and it sounds like where it should be to me. It’s a good little show and I am very happy for him.”