Three Wise Men of FM give us their take on Survey 4

It’s hard to dwell on a negative when talking to three of the most positive people currently working in radio. After all, that’s one of the main reasons why SCA’s Guy Dobson, DMG’s Paul Jackson and ARN’s Duncan Campbell got to where they are. For Dobson, it’s not so much that Mix in Perth has lost its 100 survey lead, but rather that it has been given a great opportunity to fight back. “Perth will definitely bounce back. That’s a lay down misere for us,” he says. But sensing that I may not be totally convinced, he goes on,  “I’ll tell you this, Sacko, if Mix FM in Perth isn’t number one next survey, I will come into the radioinfo offices dressed as a woman.” I plead with him to accept that I am, indeed, totally convinced.

Over at ARN, Duncan Campbell is also unperturbed about Brisbane’s 97.3FM losing its number one status to Nova,  “You know they had a very tactical survey which has paid dividends for them. But we’ll re-emerge in Brisbane, it’s a battle that we’ll continue.”

DMG’s Paul Jackson underplays Nova’s triumph in Brisbane to build a case for Sydney where the breakfast show has slipped back after showing signs of growth over the past two surveys. “When we received the Brisbane numbers today we thought, yeah, its been a long time coming. I feel that way about Sydney that we have a great show, just bubbling under, still to explode. I think Fitzy and Wippa is an excellent show. I honestly think they’ve found their feet in the last few months and are doing some brilliant stuff on breakfast. It doesn’t really correlate in my mind that that’s a show that’s going backwards.” says Jackson.

So, if that’s how these three see the negatives, what about the positives?

“For us this survey was all about Sydney and 2DayFM. And steadiness on the Triple M format,” says Dobbo, Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O – it’s their 5th year this survey at number one. They’re further ahead of the opposition now. If you have a look at the 25-39 for 2DayFM you’ll find daylight between us and second – which as you know is the telling demographic in terms of money. We dominate it so it’s a compelling story. We’re really happy where Kyle is. He’s adding more audience to the show in terms of cume.”

ARN had a huge day in Melbourne where the hitherto moribund Mix 101.1 had a blinder with an increase of 1.7, helped by a 1.4 leap in breakfast. GOLD also edged higher with a more modest 0.3 gain. Says Duncan Campbell, “Melbourne really highlights for us the importance of very strong breakfast shows and we took a very bold decision at the end of last year to change those breakfast shows. We moved Brig and Lehmo off Mix and onto Gold which we think is a natural place for them and a much better fit.

“Also, we put two females together on the air at Mix.  Obviously Chrissie Swan is an extremely strong personality, and for us Jane Hall has turned out to be the find of 2012. And as a combination – they’re proving very, very successful. They’re very strong and hugely relatable to the adults. So that’s a real benefit to us, and what we’re seeing now is the growth that comes from a strong breakfast show,” says Campbell.

Paul Jackson at DMG puts his case for Nova’s market dominance when he says, Around the country, overall, we’re number one under 40. “Whichever way you carve it, number one under 40 with a 17.5 share. A 20 share under 30. We’re very happy with that. That’s four in a row now and we hadn’t done it for four years before that.”

As for smoothfm, “We’re coming off a ten week rolling survey, with so much activity going on in the world and smooth was just three weeks of that. Yet, its above a four share, which is all we wanted it to be. I think its hugely encouraging,” says Jackson.

Sydney remains the toughest market for all three, with breakfast the main battleground. While SCA can take some comfort at maintaining a steady lead with 2Day over the past five years, it’s lead is slender compared to the AM band leader 2GB. Even ABC702 out-rates the FMer. 

Meanwhile, the once uber-station Triple M has fallen back to a 4.7 share despite The Grill Team’s more respectable 5.8 in breakfast. For all that, Dobbo says, We’re happy with the Grill Team. I think we’re underdone in Sydney. As I said last time, I thi-

nk in terms of the survey, the methodology hasn’t been kind to us. We’re seeing a lot better result than that. So, for the Grill Team to go up again and to jump Nova, I think is great. We’re very happy with where our brands sit in Sydney.

Paul Jackson also thinks the survey results don’t match his own research, “Every piece of anecdotal, every piece of internal research I have on Fitzy and Wippa fills me with encouragement. I genuinely believe it’s going very, very well. But Sydney’s a hugelycompetitive market place with some very strong heritage radio shows out there. We’ve got to be on our game every single day. It’s a Battle Royale and we’re totally up for it,”

With the euphoria of the Mix 101.1 result in Melbourne it was easy to brush aside the 3.9 share posted by Mix 106.5’s breakfast show in Sydney. Understandably Duncan Campbell was happier to discuss WS which is now close to double digits, “Putting together breakfast shows is not easy” he explains  “Austereo’s obviously had some significant success over the years with the likes of Kyle and Jackie O and Matt and Jo in Melbourne, but it’s not easy. You really take a punt when you put two people together. At WS, we haven’t put a lot of work into those guys. Jonesy and Amanda are just an amazing combination.

“When they came back from a break at the beginning of the year, they were just on fire. And to my ear, they’ve never sounded better. And if you create strong radio, good content etc the audience listens to it and I think the audience is responding very well. I mean we thought a nine share was pretty impressive, but a 9.7 is just amazing. It’s their best ever result in fact,” says Campbell.

But Claire and Rosso who were only manacled together at the beginning of this year to do the breakfast gig at Mix could do worse than heed the advice of Paul Jackson when he talks about how long it may take for smoothfm to succeed, “It’s the earliest of days. An overnight success these days can take 18 months, never mind three weeks. I’m very pleased with the product. We’ve just got to give it time, let it find traction. I’ve no doubt in the world that this will be a great success.”

Peter Saxon