96FM – the thorn in dmg and SCA’s sides

Staff Writer

It was exactly this time last year that 96FM edged out Mix 94.5 by 0.1% to end the Southern Cross Austereo stations 100-survey winning streak.

In yesterday's survey 4 result, the Perth Fairfax station repeated their efforts becoming the number 1 station again in the market.

We spoke with 96FM Program Director Brad McNally about the result.

Mark: Firstly congratulations on 96FM being number 1 overall in Perth. Any number 1 is good, but the gap this time is a bit more than last year (was 0.1%, now 1.2%). Does that make this one a bit sweeter ?

Brad: Yes thank you kindly…yea… we were happy with last years 0.1% as we had to put a stop to Mix winning more than 100 in a row!

We have kept at it and I know that persistence always wins.

Mark: The growth was driven heavily by 40-54, and you softened a little 25-39's, is that concerning?

Brad: Yes I wanted to take more 40-54’s off Mix, so we have been working on that… 25-39’s have come back to what is a more realistic figure.

Mark: 25-54 you would be #1 by a decent margin I imagine?

Brad: As we know this is the demo that sales care about – we are 19.8% and Nova is 16.1%, so we are delighted with this number.

Mark: The daytime shifts led the way, with mornings and afternoons very strong, this has clearly been a good TSL result.

Brad: Compared to our competitors – Nova and Mix – 96fm has a smaller cume – 326,000 so yes, the way to crank the share is to drive the TSL. I have two very good jocks on the daytime – with Smiley and Potts. Both very strong and natural communicators with a real passion for our music.

Mark: Anything particular you did during the survey to drive this result? What was your tactic?

Brad: Our tactic was simply to drive our at work listening. We sent our breakfast team – Blackers, Carmen and Fitzi out to Perth workplaces every day for the book. We are now number 1 in the workplace and number 1 – 25-39, 25-44, 25-54, 40-54 (9am – 5pm)… apart from that its all about the music position for us.

96fm has been focussed on our position of Keeping Real Music Alive. This is our meaningful point of difference. I think we have created a real personality and tone for the station that is unique.

Our production values are unlike anything I have ever done before and this is thanks to the great work from our Production Manager, Andrew Edge. I also have to give credit to our agency Meerkats who put us on this path 18 months ago. My job here is like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.


Mark: Mix 94.5 are generally the #1 station in Perth, and deserve credit for that, however in this result they are a whisker off being #3, which is unheard of. Is there a changing of the guard or is Mix softening an anomaly?

Brad: In 2011 Mix were a 17.6 share, they have been in decline ever since and are now 12.3%. I would certainly be concerned with this trend if I were them.

Mark: Every market in radio says 'it's different here', and the reality is that in most markets the principles are pretty much the same. Perth however does seem to be a particularly unique market, is it different there?

Brad: This is a very true statement for sure, which is true the world over. I have worked in Perth off and on a long time and can tell you the listeners here do love their rock music. There are many examples of artists who have charted here and nowhere else.

But In general, listeners are like listeners anywhere…. they respond well to the stations that cater to their musical needs and entertainment needs. Radio stations just have to keep track of what those needs are.

Mark: Given you're the only FM station in the Fairfax group, you presumably operate with a fair degree of independence, tell us how the Fairfax/96 relationship works from a group level.

Brad: Adam Lang and Clark Forbes are excellent guys to work for. They have let me run my own race here. 96fm is working because the team here has a great work ethic… everyone understands the brand and strategy and day to day we consistently execute it.

Mark: So last time you were number one (this time last year) you stayed there for one survey, do you think you'll stay longer at the top this time?

Brad: We have excellent competitors here in Perth, and we do not under estimate them, but yes of course we will also be working as hard as we can to stay at number 1.

Mark: Finally, the PD's and on-air staff tend to get a lot of the credit for a strong survey. The behind the scenes people are always critical in any success, so name some names, who are some of the off-air people at 96fm who have driven this result ?

Brad: Glad you asked this question – firstly Macca my APD and Music Director and his assistant Potts who program 96fm song by song. Every song and every sweeper is hand placed here. These guys are world class and are always asking me … what about we do this…?

And also Kylee Payne and her team in Promotions and Marketing. Kylee and I worked together in the 80s at 96fm and also at 92.9. She and her team are winners! We do not have the same resources as our friends at DMG and SCA…. But we will continue to be a thorn in their sides.

Brad McNally when the station went #1 in Survey 4, 2012

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