Nine confident Ben Fordham can recover from survey slump

Former Editor & Content Director

Nine Radio is confident Ben Fordham’s dip in the radio ratings is a temporary anomaly, and strongly reminded the market he is still a clear #1.

Fordham had an 18.1% share in the first survey of 2021, up one share point from 17.1% at the end of 2020.

At the time, Nine Radio’s head of content, Greg Byrnes, said this market-leading figure would motivate Fordham to chase a 20% share.

Fordham’s relentless competitive nature, Byrnes said, would mean he wants to rival 3AW’s Breakfast show with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft, who at Survey 1 had a 22.2% share.

In Survey 2, however, Fordham took a hit, falling 2.6 points to a 15.5% share.

Its main talk-based rival, the ABC, climbed 0.5 points, putting hosts Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck on 13.2%. Should that trend continue, Fordham would be toppled as the AM leader, as well as the overall Breakfast king.

Byrnes, however, would not be rattled.

“Well, what’s to remember is that he’s still clear #1,” Byrnes told Radio Today following Survey 2.

Byrnes also noted the Breakfast show’s average in recent years under the stewardship of Alan Jones was averaging about 15%, so Fordham’s 15.5% share was still tracking well for the station.

He did concede, however, that Fordham would likely be disappointed by the dip.

“He’s a competitor, absolutely. Will they just go out and do the same thing when he’s back on air next week? Absolutely. Work harder. But that really had no bearing on what today’s result was. They’re committed. The show’s sounding great. He’s a strong #1. It’s the next generation of talk. And we’re very well placed heading into what is now Survey 3.”

Breakfast with Ross & Russel also took a slight hit in Melbourne, down 0.7 points from 22.2% to 21.5%.

Unlike Sydney, however, the show remains well ahead of the ABC, which sat on a stable 10.7% for Survey 2. Comedian Sammy J hosts the ABC program in Melbourne. The FM leader in Melbourne, Christian O’Connell, had an 8.3% share.

Byrnes said the show is evolving and getting better, all while managing to stay above the 20% share mark.

“Ross is one of a kind. And, I mean, the AM/FM thing, I mean, it’s #1 or is isn’t, really. Shouldn’t that be the case? And it is #1… by miles,” he said.

“I don’t want to get into a he said/ she said with the FMs [though]. We just need to concentrate on what we do, and that’s the strategy that we’ve announced loudly, and we’re rock solid behind.”

When it comes to Survey 3 – out on June 1 – Byrnes said Nine Radio will “just keep doing what we do”.

“Tomorrow needs to be better than today,” he said. “It’s all fairly corny, but it’s just so true. We just need to look at figures today, we all go ‘Everyone, very well done, but let’s do it all again tomorrow’.

“And that’s just the nature of this content. And we’re just trying to do each day better than the one before, and find that new and expand that new and the next talk audience.”

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26 Apr 2021 - 1:39 pm

Harmer and Buck will beat Benny next survey you watch. Hilarious the old ABC beating 2GB breakfast, who would have thought.

John Anderson
26 Apr 2021 - 2:06 pm

I am not at all surprised 2GB has slipped in the latest survey, starting with breakfast where it’s obviously chasing a younger audience. I used to look forward to starting my day with real news, intelligent comments, and hard nose interviews from both sides of politics.
Other than Ray Hadley who doesn’t appear to have gone down the soft left commercial TV type of news stories, the rest of the afternoon presenters are failed commercial TV hacks.
The final reason I have turned off 2GB is the insane weather forecasts with Tim Bailey, an insult to most people’s intelligence.

Rob Sutton
26 Apr 2021 - 2:18 pm

What about the fact that there have been massive declines in both afternoons and drive on 2GB compared to last year?

Ray Hadley still rates well on morning but nearly half the audience switches off when Deb Knight comes on the air

Kathy Du
26 Apr 2021 - 2:29 pm

Not surprised. Chris Smith leaves Ben Fordham in his wake when it comes to commentary and talk back.

Mick C
26 Apr 2021 - 3:12 pm

B F wants to rival 3AW.

Hes dreaming.

He has to make a choice radio or TV where hes on a lot.

26 Apr 2021 - 3:23 pm

Just surprised the first survey was so high but after second survey Fordhams showed how boring and wishy washy he really is and survey 3 will also be in decline. He certainly has a high opinion of himself always has. Maybe I don’t fit the demographic.

26 Apr 2021 - 3:48 pm


26 Apr 2021 - 4:17 pm

The ratings for Deb Knight on afternoons and Jim Wilson are well below the station average

By the way Vivienne, what happened to the Radio Today podcast this week?

    26 Apr 2021 - 4:37 pm

    Hi Peter,

    Unfortunately Jake was unavailable this week, and I was fairly certain the comment thread wasn’t ready for me to deliver a monologue in its place.

    Hopefully we’ll be back up and running this week.

    Vivienne – Radio Today

Peter Johnson
26 Apr 2021 - 5:03 pm

Hope so Viv. A lot of people at the station like to listen as they drive home on Thursday night

27 Apr 2021 - 11:07 am

Totally agree with John Anderson and Peter – 2GB has gone down the plug hole – really miss the real news and banter with Allan J – i see where 2GB are bringing back the money to entice listeners i suppose.
2SM is the way to go in the afternoons with Brent Bultitude..


Glen Nash
27 Apr 2021 - 12:56 pm

So predictable! 2GB needs the hardcore presenters to come home, BF is such a lightweight and Ray continues to think he is bigger and more important than his listeners !

John Anderson
27 Apr 2021 - 4:34 pm

Until 2GB sees the light and brings back true professional talkback radio presenters, I now get my morning fix by steaming Steve Price between 7am & 10am Mon to Fri on the Listnr app.
As Daisy commented they are now using money as an incentive to try and bring back listeners, which just goes to prove they are concerned about the drop of their once loyal audience.

28 Apr 2021 - 12:41 pm

Totally agree with John Anderson again – looks like the light has gone out in the 2GB studio – do they care – i don’t think so – radio lacks competition in this area.


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