‘He’s a good bloke’: Nine Radio on how Ben Fordham held onto that #1 Breakfast spot

Former Editor & Content Director

Debate may still be raging – or at least ticking along mildly aggressively – about the AM/ FM divide, and whether segregating stations according to the traditional metric and delivery platform is still relevant. One thing, however, is clear, and that’s the #1 position held by Ben Fordham in Sydney Breakfast in terms of audience share as 2020 winds down.

There were, of course, doubters when the younger host took over the coveted Nine Radio slot from radio veteran Alan Jones. Could he hold on to those older, Jones loyalists? Would younger, more liberal, listeners give him ago after years of controversy and genuine issues with Jones? And was there an appetite for Nine Radio’s “new approach” to talk radio, as the media giant completely took over the legacy Macquarie Media assets?

According to Greg Byrnes, Nine Radio’s head of content, the answer to all of those questions, is “yes”.

Asked what the key highlights are for Nine Radio as 2020 draws to a close, he has a pretty simple answer: “The fact that AW has responded as it has. And really 2GB, in particular Ben Fordham – what Ben’s done in Breakfast.”

The appeal of Fordham, he said, is a combination of factors: Nine’s return to, and emphasis on, ‘live and local’; his time running a successful Drive show; and his on, and off, air persona as a “good bloke”.

“Well, we, he’s got a show that’s been successful in Drive for 10 years. He knows how to put good radio together. The big focus was getting back to local… live and local, and he does that really well. There’s great companionship, there’s a laugh. You’re getting all your traditional talk radio fodder, but I think people are getting a lot more of a laugh than what they’re used to, while also getting all that meat and potato. He’s engaging. He’s a good bloke, right? He’s a good bloke. And I think he’s the sort of guy you’d want to have a beer with, and anyone that knows him knows that’s who he is, and more and more Sydneysiders are realising that,” Byrnes said after Survey 8’s results in which 2GB had a 17.1% share in Breakfast.

Co-host of Sydney’s #1 FM Breakfast show, Kyle Sandilands, however, has a different perspective on his radio rival, his success, and his appeal.

“I don’t mind Ben. He’s just a pest. He’s that sort of over-the-top… he’s like a salesman,” Sandilands told the Mediaweek Podcast. “Like Fordham will do okay because old people don’t know whether Alan’s there, or some people still think Lawsy’s there. They don’t know. But Fordo’s okay, but he’s like that guy at the front of Target at the weekends with the little microphone getting women to come in and buy the socks. People like that. His audience like that. He sounds informed. Doesn’t really know. He’s an alright bloke. There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just not my cup of tea.”

Sandilands’ station, Australian Radio Network’s KIIS 106.5, had an 11.3% share in Breakfast in Survey 8.

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18 Dec 2020 - 10:28 am

Ben Fordham held onto the number one spot because he is a good bloke – so why did Deb Knight and Jim Wilson have big drops in the ratings?

18 Dec 2020 - 1:07 pm

Ben Fordham is way to sugary and syrupy for me.
I have gone back to the M’s. Entertaining and just as informative.
And I have not missed Hadley either.

Peter Wong
18 Dec 2020 - 5:58 pm

I find Ben Fordham’s delivery very monotone. Whether selling a pillow or advising of a terrorist threat somewhere in the world his level of voice does not change.
A lot of his program is taken up with what is coming next….do not find real substance in his radio hours.
Am sure Deborah is lovely but soooooo boring.
Who wants to know what 70’s song others liked or someone else’s favourite movie. Totally inane.
Am an avid listener but content for me has gone downhill contrary to last ratings.

Boris Badenov
18 Dec 2020 - 6:05 pm

If Fordham is no1 there’s a flaw in the system

Chris Conway
18 Dec 2020 - 6:28 pm

Someone asked why Deb Knight had a big drop. Look at the program content.. ‘what is the strangest thing your dog has eaten?’ ‘Do you take your Milo hot or cold?’ Really?.. who is the target market?

20 Dec 2020 - 9:06 am

Ben is a very good broadcaster that is not in doubt but nine radio’s 2GB and 3AW have no competition for over 60’s The only competition is the ABC and those right wing nut job AM listeners aren’t going to listen to GB. So let’s be clear, Nine radio virtually has a monopoly of 55 / 65 + That’s why Ben didn’t get an Alan Jones sized deal. Any number of broadcasters could have replaced Jones and no one would even notice.

28 Dec 2020 - 2:42 am

Interesting to read that the ratings have dropped for D Knight and J Wilson. I have slowly but surely stopped listening to 2GB since AJ Steve Price and George Moore have left. The only one now I listen to is Michael Mclaren. What a wasted talent to be on at midnight. Just listen to his weekend show which he is covering for Chris Smith. The intelligence level lifted instantly. I have tried giving my feedback to 2GB for months but no one gets back to you and they make it very difficult to contact management.There were too many changes all at once and agree with the comments especially about the boring content in the afternoon lineup. Bring back George Moore even if just the holidays.

11 Jan 2021 - 10:54 pm

Oh dear whoever you are Kyle Sandilands you seem rather big headed to me
I will talk to him in Target any time shame I live in the U.K.

Sharyne Mendoza
21 Jan 2021 - 7:22 pm

I agree with all comments. Ben monotone and everything is always coming up next. OK, I like Ray. Deb Knight is just too fluffy and I was listening to Jim this afternoon with the 2 politicians, that just went back and forth with no substance.

But I loved the Xmas / New Year line up. Chris in the morning, always love Mark Levy, no time for Joe, and love Luke in the afternoons. And bonus to have Michael McLaren on the weekends. Miss George so much. 2 Murray’s are gold though.

It’s like they are trying for the new demographic, 35-50?, I heard all the old local Alan Jones’ listeners over Xmas. And now, starting 18 Jan when everyone came back, gone, back to inane subjects. And worst still, no where else to go. It’s a commercial TV Station on Radio now. And I don’t watch Commercial TV. I miss my old 2GB.

Joshua KING
2 Jun 2021 - 1:26 pm

Fordham was always going to go up a little before he plummeted. 2GB spent a motza on advertising so younger and fresher audiences would give Fordham a test run or taste test. That early taste test was a false reading and anyone that knows radio, lives it and breathes it would be aware that the drop would be big when it arrived. I predicted 13 per cent within 5 surveys. The question is has Fordhams sinkhole reached its base or is there still room to move downwards. He will reach 11.5 and stay there and fall to 3rd spot in breakfast. The truth is audiences don’t want journalists and intellects in the hot seat anymore. They want the return of the entertainers and the shock jocks. They want a Donald Trump at breakfast not a Henry Kissinger.


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