ARN’s Duncan Campbell on why nuanced localism is vital to Breakfast success

Assistant Editor

In an age where more and more radio dayparts are networked into multiple metro markets, Breakfast remains a sacred, local timeslot.

The Breakfast show is crucial in establishing and maintaining the identity of a radio station, so much so that Breakfast remains local across almost all regional commercial networks as well, even when much of their content is syndicated.

A move to network Breakfast would be a big mistake, according to Australian Radio Network national content director Duncan Campbell.

He believes that despite most Workday, Drive and Nights shows being networked nationally by ARN, SCA and Nova, Breakfast should remain local – and few would argue with him.

Using the example of Sydney, Campbell says that shows broadcast by hosts living in the city they’re talking to have certain intangible local quality.

“I’m talking about the nuances that subtly permeate out of Fitzy & Wippa or Kyle & Jackie O that local audiences pick up on,” he says, whilst chatting with Radio Today following the results of Survey #6.

“They [audiences] don’t pick up on them necessarily in a way that they could articulate that in a focus group. It just positions that station and that show as a local show.”

The strength of that localism on both Nova 96.9 and KIIS 106.5’s Breakfast shows is a key quality that a show like 2DayFM Breakfast simply can’t match, due simply to the location of its hosts.

2Day Breakfast is currently made up of Grant Denyer, Ed Kavalee and Ash London.

Kavalee and London (and Em Rusciano before her) are located in Melbourne, while Denyer does the show from Bathurst.

Getting the team in one studio is a critical move that 2DayFM needs to make if they want to arrest the show’s long-term under-performance, believes Campbell.

“A good start would be to have the Breakfast show broadcasting from the studios in World Square.

“In 2018, in a market like Sydney, to have the Breakfast show being broadcast via landline into Sydney from Melbourne and Bathurst and god knows where else.”

The most obvious consequence of not being in the same studio is that it stifles chemistry.

Beyond that, Campbell says that a show with people in different studios, being broadcast from outside the market it is intended for, will never grab the local audience quite the way a locally broadcast show does.

“It doesn’t allow them to talk about Sydney,” he says of the current format of 2Day Breakfast.

Not in the cliched way. I don’t mean talking about having a picnic on the botanical gardens.

Campbell speaks from his own experience too, recalling broadcasting a Breakfast show from Melbourne into Sydney.

“When we networked Richard Stubbs into Sydney back in the day, we did it in a way that you could not tell where he was. It was seamless, with local NRL breaks vs AFL breaks ect.

Despite that, there was simply still something missing.

“He wasn’t living in Sydney and that was the problem.”

“What 2DayFM are doing is putting together people – putting known personalities together and hoping for chemistry. But they’re doing it with one hand tied behind their back because they’re not putting them in the same studio.”

“They’ve got to get a reality check on that. From the numbers we’ve seen, that station is broken.”


Radio Today recently explored the options that SCA have at their disposal to arrest the downturn of 2DayFM Breakfast next year.

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Mick
31 Oct 2018 - 12:22 pm

What about Howard Stern Duncan aahhhh !

Ben
31 Oct 2018 - 12:25 pm

Stubby’s was more than 20 years ago there’s been this thing called the internet the world is more global now.
This from a bloke who puts a pommie into a Melbourne breakfast show.

Paul
31 Oct 2018 - 12:57 pm

Some serious shots at SCA here but what about KIIS in Melbourne ?
Tidy up your own back yard first.
Wasn’t Richard Stubbs back in the 80’s ?
Times have changed since then.
ACE are doing very well with a national breakfast show across Victoria.

Ro
31 Oct 2018 - 1:27 pm

Methinks Duncan should worry about his underperfoming Melbourne Breakfast shows. They might be broadcasting from Melbourne, but they don’t feel local.

Bruce
31 Oct 2018 - 1:31 pm

Shots fired !

James
31 Oct 2018 - 1:36 pm

He is right. LOCAL is everything. You need talent who have grown up in the market and know the market. Localism is radio’s only great strength left. Local local local. Give me local home grown any day.

seriously
31 Oct 2018 - 2:05 pm

You’re right Duncan.

Much better to hire a show from New Zealand or a guy who did internet radio in London into one of the biggest markets in the country and let them pretend to be local.

I’ll take great Australian talent from wherever they live.

Worked for Wendy and Mooney.

The Elephant
31 Oct 2018 - 2:25 pm

Obviously Gold 104 and Kiss Melbourne are excluded from such analysis… because hiring a Brit for Brekky and a team from across the ditch is local right?

John
31 Oct 2018 - 4:16 pm

What about Kate Tim and Marty? Highest rated radio show in the country and they are in separate studios?

Rod
31 Oct 2018 - 4:51 pm

Would you call an announcer from the UK local ? Gold has never sounded worse I say so he kind of shoots himself in the foot with this argument.

Rod
1 Nov 2018 - 4:19 am

He has got a point SCA keep rolling out these Melbourne people like Ed Kavalee, Em Rusciano, Jane Kennedy they don’t get it in Sydney. None of them have worked. Sydney wants its own local talent who understand the market. Sydney is a very different town to Melbourne. Local is best.When will they realise that ? Are all the SCA programmers based in Melbourne ?

Bondi boy
1 Nov 2018 - 5:27 am

Note to 2DAYFM aren’t there any good comedians in Sydney.

Barry
1 Nov 2018 - 8:41 am

He’s talking about talent who LIVE in the cities their broadcasting to. He never said anything about where they originated from. Jase & PJ and Christian O’Connell all LIVE in Melbourne. Plus, Jase is from Australia, so calling him a Kiwi is incorrect. Wendy Harmer was from Melbourne but lives in Sydney, Fitzy is from Adelaide and Wippa is from Melbourne but live in Sydney. Kyle & Jackie O are from Queensland but live in Sydney. Abby Coleman is from Adelaide but lives in Brisbane. Fred Botica is from New Zealand but lives in Perth.

So you don’t necessarily need to have grown up in a market to have a local show……

Bianca
1 Nov 2018 - 11:12 am

Isn’t King Kyle live from America half the year????

Remote
1 Nov 2018 - 4:35 pm

ACE radio’s morning rush is a breakfast show that’s piped into different markets regionally and sounds great.
It can be done.

Kylie
1 Nov 2018 - 9:42 pm

It is so strange seeing them on camera knowing they aren’t even in the same state or even the same room. I feel like I am listening into a three way phone conversation. A few camera shots of Ed look like he wasn’t even in Melbourne at all recently but a random hotel or non studio environment. Agree that local talent is better for audience to relate to.

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