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