“We have changed the dynamic of the marketplace”

smooth sailing for Paul Jackson 

Whether a station goes up down or stays the same, any Program Director worth their salt will tell you that it is “in line with expectations.” They’d tell you they expected the Spanish Inquisition if it came around again.

In Survey 8 there was only one blot on the DMG escutcheon – a drop in share of 1.2 in Brisbane for Nova 106.9. “From some dizzying heights and still winning  the key demos,” adds Paul Jackson quickly.  It was, after all, in line with expectations. 

“And 97.3 is a good station. I have a lot of respect for them. I think we will continue to have a bit of a ding dong up there with them.  And that’s all good fun. We seem to have emerged as a two horse race in Brisbane, so bring on next year!”  says the DMG Group Program Director.

If that’s the bad news – hell, the station’s still number two in the market – then how good’s the good? Well, at its launch in May, DMG Marketing Director, Tony Thomas, predicted smoothfm would go to a 6.0 share in it’s first year. Most pundits were doubtful. Even Jackson distanced himself from Thomas’s brash prediction.

Little more than six months later the station in Sydney sits on 5.8 and what does Paul Jackson say? “It is pretty much on my best estimates.”

He does, however, concede that he expected it to take longer than it has, “In my wildest dreams I was hoping to be up there but I was fully prepared for us to take longer to gain traction.”

He points out that the station is already number one FM in Afternoons and says, “I am curious to see what will happen after 18 months because I do think that there is a whole swathe of people that are yet to discover the radio station so I do think that we need to work at the product.”

In the meantime smoothfm has signed up Michael Buble for the holiday period. Jackson himself won’t be taking a break. “We won’t take our foot of the gas in December and January and we have got some other great plans for the station.”

Since the new branding came into affect, audience for the frequency is up 87% in Sydney and 78% in Melbourne. “We are the success story of the year,” says Jackson.

But while smoothfm, Melbourne is not exactly doing it tough with a handy 0.4 gain to bring it to a whisker below a 5.0, it is not quite the stellar performance of its Sydney sister.

So, why do they perform differently in each market?, I ask. “I cant explain why that might be,” he says.

Finally, there’s something Jackson doesn’t know! Then he adds a little science to the explanation, “The same trend seems to be happening in Melbourne as in Sydney, but a book behind,” he says.

“When I look at who we are really targeting, which is females  35-54, in a work day, in Sydney, we have a 16.1 share and Mix is at 4.4. And WS is at 10.9.

“When you get inside the numbers in the daytime, we are utterly dominant with 35 to 54 year old women. And many people 55 plus have not yet caught onto the station. And we will try and bring them in – there is huge growth to come there.

“We are also doing extraordinarily well at the younger end. Smooth’s share of 10 – 39 year old’s is 6.4. WS is 5.4.  So the younger end is also doing brilliantly.

“For six months in, it is extraordinary! And it does suggest that if we continue to execute this product well over a three year period – I think it takes that long to get proper maturity – then we will be batting right at the top end of the scale,” says Jackson.

How’s the Nova brand going, dare I ask?

“There are two things that I feel compelled to tell you. One is that where we are year on year is staggering . A year ago 2DayFM was a 10 point station. Today it is an 8,4. The Nixes and the WS’s both went down. There are only two stations that went up year on year. Nova went from a 6.0 to a 7.3 and smooth from a 3.2 to a 5.8.

“Therefore we have changed the dynamic of the market place.

“Nova is doing what we are trying to make it do, which is to be dominant under 40. And smooth to be dominant 35 plus – which is a bit of an overlap.

“But the most compelling thing for me is the network position because that is what we are driving hard. Our competitors drive their network positions too. And we have 1.304 million listeners in Sydney  and that is more than SCA because they have 1.275 and that is absolutely king, so Nova and smooth have more listeners than any other network in Sydney,” says Paul Jackson.