Live & Local: Why Hot Tomato is such a formidable force on the Gold Coast
Another Gold Coast survey has passed, and once again independent operator Hot Tomato remains dominant in the market.
The station, which broadcasts the vast majority of its daily content locally, finished the final survey of the year with a 15.3% share of listening among People 10+.
Drive team Galey, Mal and Moyra remain uncontested at #1, with a 17.8% share (-0.4), while Brekky team Flan, Emily Jade and Christo currently sit in second spot with 14.4% (-0.7) just behind Gold FM.
These sorts of results are far from a blip for Hot Tomato, which has been a formidable force for years now against a slew of stations backed by big networks.
Content director Dan Bradley says that the latest result is pleasing, but that the station tries to look beyond individual surveys.
“We don’t so much look at individual surveys, rather we’re interested in the trends as that speaks to consistency,” he tells Radio Today.
“That said it’s obviously good to end the survey year in the #1 position, but we’ve been #1 in 5 of the last 6 surveys and that consistency is more pleasing than any specific result.
“The credit for that consistency lies with the entire Hot Tomato team, we’re really fortunate to have an incredible group of people here, with a great passion for the brand, and they’re completely engaged with the philosophy of being a station designed for the Gold Coast community.
“The other guys are part of a big network, their two stations on the Gold Coast are very good and obviously, they’d like to be #1, so it’s very competitive, but that’s all part of the fun.”
Hot Tomato had fallen from its #1 spot overall in the first book of 2018, a result that was “unacceptable,” says Bradley. As such, some changes were made, and the station was back on top just one survey later.
“That first survey was a challenging one,” admits Bradley. “We had some disruption in Breakfast which will always have some impact, but you don’t make any material changes as a result of one survey, we certainly tweaked one or two things here and there, but largely we refocused on the strategy and our respective roles in delivering that.”
Hot Tomato leads the market when it comes to locally broadcast commercial content, and Bradley says that localism is a key differential for the station, in particular with its dominant Drive show.
“I’m not so sure that the role of localism is any more or less relevant on the Gold Coast than any other market, you can make a pretty solid case for it anywhere really, but for us, it’s certainly a point of difference,” he says.
“Clearly, I’m not saying networking shows can’t work, they can and in many cases do, but it’s not something that Hot Tomato does, and never has since launch.
“There’s a line that Galey, Mal and Moyra have in their show bible which is ‘we know where the potholes are’, and that speaks to the commitment to localism that Hot Tomato has always had.
That commitment to localism is ingrained in the very essence and culture of the station, and it’s a culture that filters down from management through the entire station community.
“The culture comes from the top really, Hans Torv and Graham Miles have over a long period of time built an excellent culture in the building, everyone here genuinely looks out for each other and it’s a great energy,” Bradley explains.
“I wouldn’t want to overplay the independent angle, although when the bloke who owns the station has an office in the building it probably means we can move nimbly when we have to, and being independent does help us to be completely focused on the Gold Coast.
“But that said, we know what we need to do, we’ve got a solid strategy and an exceptional team and we’ll continue to build from that.”
Hot Tomato was recognised for its achievements at the 2018 ACRAs, winning the gong for Best Achievement in Production. Bradley is pleased to receive the recognition but believes that the station should have had more finalists this year.
“We only had the two finalists this year, both of whom were excellent, but to be honest we probably should have had more.
“With Hot Tomato’s ratings consistency over an extended period of time, particularly in the judging period, I’d have thought our music director, Breakfast Show and Drive Show, in particular, might have received a nomination.
“I’m not disparaging any of the worthy winners, just making the point that ratings performance deserves more consideration than it obviously receives.
Moving forward, it will just be a case of keeping the consistency going, with no lineup changes planned for the foreseeable future.
“Hot Tomato has a great line-up,” says Bradley.
“It’s the strongest line-up the stations ever had, and we’re looking forward to a strong 2019 with an unchanged team.”