Radio Power Rankings – are they for real?

Comment from Peter Saxon

The print media, whether online or on paper, loves a list. Those sponsored links at the bottom of many major publications use lists as clickbait to get you to accidently click on a minefield of ads as you attempt to navigate an interminable number of pages to arrive at number one on the list.
There’s a list for almost anything. For example, the list of The top 100 Guitarists of all Time. Anyone with a more than passing interest in 20th century rock is immediately drawn in to see if the published list – at least at the pointy end – corresponds with their own. Will number one be Clapton, Knopfler, Hendrix, Santana or Slash? Spoiler alert: Clapton came in second. Jimi Hendrix was deemed to be number one. Cue: heated discussion at water cooler next morning. Mission accomplished.
Other lists I’ve seen include: The World’s Worst Cruise Lines; The 20 Smartest Dog Breeds; The 30 Worst Serial Killers; the 15 worst boob jobs and, of course, the List of the 50 Most Popular Lists.
Jonathon Moran, one of the better entertainment scribes, writing for Confidential in the Daily Telegraph, (paywall) is the latest to compile a list of radio personalities that he believes are at the top of their field based on a combination of ratings, salary and exposure in other media such as TV and print. 
What intrigued me about his article was that it followed a certain direction when I first read it on Friday but by Sunday (yesterday) it had been heavily edited, seemingly to appeal more to the average Tele reader than the broadcast professional who reads, say, radioinfo. Which is fair enough but the latest iteration seems somewhat confusing.
The original article ranked the power of talent within their own stations. Alan Jones followed by Ben Fordham and Ray Hadley was listed under 2GB while Lawrence Mooney, Jane Kennedy and Mick Molloy were listed under Triple M. Which, to my mind was the sensible thing to do rather than try to compare apples with oranges like, say, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell to KIIS 106.5fm’s Kyle Sandilands.
Yet, by Sunday, a list doing exactly that, ranking apples, oranges, pears and plums, had been incorporated into Mr Moran’s story. For the record, here’s the Tele’s list:

I would suggest that most radioinfo readers would have trouble accepting the list as it stands without some detailed explanation as to how it was determined. For example, by what reasoning is Alan Jones relegated to third place behind, not just Kyle & Jackie Henderson but Nova’s Kate Richie?
Is it just on reported earnings? If so, it’s dubious criteria. Industry insiders pretty much agree (and as ARN CEO Ciaran Davis has suggested) the KIIS duo are getting nowhere near the $10 million per year, over five years, that they like to promote. As Ben Fordham told his 2GB audience, “I know Kyle and Jackie O love everyone thinking that they got a $50 million deal but if you believe that Kyle and Jackie O got $50 million in their last pay deal, you believe that there is true love on Married At First Sight.” 
What’s also interesting is that in Mr Moran’s original article, under the 2GB banner, Ray Hadley came in third place behind Alan Jones and Ben Fordham. Why has Fordham risen to a higher rank than the “heir apparent” to Jones? Could it be that 2GB’s new owners, Nine, have a different succession plan in mind?
Here’s another anomaly between the first and second editions of the Moran article. On the combined list, above, the team of Kyle & Jackie O, is listed as radio’s number one team with, it must be said, almost half the market share of Alan Jones, who, in turn, has considerably less share than Ross Stevenson and John Burns on Melbourne’s 3AW. And ARN wunderkind Christian O’Connell doesn’t get a mention anywhere.
That aside, in the original article, Mr Moran’s list for KIIS 106.5 puts Jackie Henderson on her own at number one followed by her and Kyle, as a duo, at number two. Which I found quite insightful. But what does that say about the shift in power between the two? If he has an observation about that, Mr Moran isn’t saying. He’s been contacted but was unavailable for comment.
Nonetheless it’s a big leap for Jackie who, just a few years ago, was considered Kyle’s sidekick. But it’s Kyle himself who truly understands the vital role that she plays in their partnership.
Firstly, according to him, it was he who insisted to management that he and Jackie be paid the same salary.
Secondly, By his own admission, Kyle does little or no prep for a three-hour Mon-Fri Breakfast show, “I’ve got it covered,” he says, “because Jackie is fully prepped and she’s right across everything that’s going on. Jackie is fully prepped – so she does an afternoon phone call with the producers, gets downloaded on everything. And then I just hear it fresh in the morning.”
That unique division of labour where Jackie works hard while Kyle doesn’t is confirmed by past EP, now Kyle’s personal manager Bruno Bouchet who, discussing how segments make it into the show says, “If you’re the Exec Producer and you’ve got an idea for the show, you sell that to Jackie, who’s the actual EP, if you want to know the truth.” 

Peter Saxon



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