triple j nears 2 million listeners. “Not that I’m counting,” says Michael Mason

National reach for the ABC’s youth network is, in fact, 1.96 million according to GfK’s Survey 5. 

And you can bet that Michael Mason, Head of ABC Radio is counting.

Yet, Aunty has no commercial imperative to perform well in surveys. But as a not-for-profit public broadcaster with no sales targets to achieve it can afford to look longer term. Clearly that’s where Mason’s head’s at,“We really have to have an eye on that digital future because that’s clearly where the growth is – particularly around the personalisation aspect of radio – to be able to get the news at the time you want, the music when you want it and the talk when you want it. That’s where the really big growth is and where we’re concentrating a lot of our efforts.”

Back in the here and now, Local Radio flagship 702 ABC had a mortgage on second place behind 2GB in Sydney until about 9 am on Tuesday when Survey 5 results revealed that despite a modest 0.2 rise, 702 had been beaten into third by smoothfm.

“I think that’s the ongoing challenge for talk stations. We’ve got to try harder to remain relevant to audiences,” says Mason. “…particularly when those things,  the indispensables of radio, weather news and traffic are accessible in your pocket with your smartphone.

“Those reasons that people depended on to plug into their world, their weather their traffic when turning on the radio – particularly talk radio – you can now grab that going down the corridor on your way to the car on your way to the bus. 

“I think people in some cases make music changes and music choices that compensate for that so our challenge is to find those new indispensables and to be front and centre in the marketplace,” says Mason

What’s the rate of migration from terrestrial radio to digital?

“We see a lot of growth in the capital cities where there’s DAB+. I think now it’s close now to 30% online and DAB+ penetration in people listening to ABC radio that way. That’s where we’re seeing consistent and massive growth,” says Michael Mason.

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