Content chiefs talk radio ratings, job security and music strategy

Staff Writer

Duncan Campbell is at wits’ end with Microsoft Teams, Dave Cameron opted to bunker down in the office and Paul Jackson is rather enjoying an at-home edition of ratings.

As they say, each to their own. But the content kings all do have at least one thing in common: their network is the undisputed market leader.

Radio Today editor Jake Challenor spoke with FM radio’s big three group content director’s just after Survey 2 results landed on Thursday, and all three came out swinging.

With a noticeable shift to talk-based stations in what will be the last GfK book until at least August, radio bosses remained upbeat and optimistic about their network’s role during the pandemic.

Hot topics included the value of news during the health crisis, finding the right balance of virus-related content, music strategy, job security and the biggest challenges facing radio right now.

On the weekend, Radio Today will publish its chat with Nine Radio content king Greg Byrnes. The interview covered everything from radio ratings and cost-cutting to Alan Jones and networking.

Duncan Campbell | Australian Radio Network

  • On Survey 2: “In terms of the official ratings, this is it now until Survey 6. We will put out data from iHeartRadio which is showing very positive signs, particularly around monthly active users and use of smart speakers and registrations. We will continue to release that to the market as we go forward.”
  • On COVID-19: “What corporate Australia is really wanting answers to is when is this going to be over? And how long is the economy going to take to wind back up again?”
  • On Marketing: “It wouldn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on marketing or big cash contesting, but you still have to maintain a level of activity and we’re continuing to do that.”
  • On News: “We’re not taking a hard news approach like a 2GB, but certainly we’re there keeping people up to date on the virus and what it means for them.”
  • On Jobs: “A good thing from an ARN perspective, while we are taking pay cuts temporarily, there are no redundancies which is good. So we’re protecting jobs as much as we can, for as long as we can.”
  • On Music: “We haven’t’ changed our strategy at all really. People do, in times of stress, default to things they know and things that they take comfort in.”
  • On Advertising: “In terms of the official ratings, this is it now until Survey 6.”

Dave Cameron | Southern Cross Austereo

  • On Survey 2: “We’ve seen our breakfast shows sustain listenership and, in some markets, grow their audience. So there doesn’t seem to be any truth in breakfast losing listeners.”
  • On COVID-19: “This is a time where everyone’s life has been completely upended. We will come out of this with completely different habits.”
  • On Marketing: “I’m not sure if ARN would be hugely happy with that limited increase [at 97.3FM] given the marketing expenditure they would have had around Robin being back.”
  • On News: “It’s a fine balance to make sure that we’ve got the right kind of feel on each show between news and entertainment.”
  • On Jobs: “It’s an anxious time to be in any company right now, I think. “
  • On Music: “In times of crisis… familiarity will always be a friend. That would mean we would probably be less likely to be ambitious about new music.”
  • On Advertising: “We’ll continue to provide the market with this increase in our consumption on a weekly basis, and I think [buyers] are reacting to that because the results that they’re seeing are really meaningful.”

Paul Jackson | NOVA Entertainment

  • On Survey 2: “I think in this survey has been really hard to actually pick up TSL in workday when people are doing a bit of music for escapism and then moving to a news channel.”
  • On COVID-19: “You’ve got to rise to the occasion. We genuinely care about our audience and providing the best service for them. We’ve never worked harder.”
  • On Marketing: “I think it would be foolhardy for anybody to be spending dollars on marketing right now. I’m not sure there are enough people out and about.”
  • On News: “From a Nova point of view, initially we were doing COVID-19 updates every hour on top of our news bulletins and on smooth we were getting callers on-air every hour.
  • On Jobs: “The Government have done all they can to ensure as many people’s job security that they can at this stage. We’ve got to be optimistic over the longer term.”
  • On Music: “I think right now we’re probably in a period where people want familiar songs that they know and love and it’s less about new music.”
  • On Advertising: “We’ve got our data on current listening which is extremely strong, and we’ll be presenting that to agencies over the coming days and weeks, as all networks will.”

What’s your take on the content chief’s reaction to Survey 2 results? Let us know in the comments.

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Recent comments (10)
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18 Apr 2020 - 9:13 am

How could DC remain upbeat and optimistic with those results.

18 Apr 2020 - 9:16 am

It’s interesting they all say it would be foolish to do marketing right now, yet that is what radio provides for other businesses…. ?

18 Apr 2020 - 10:16 am

Dave Cameron had five breakfast shows go down so how could this be a positive survey. So I would definitely say SCA in breakfast is losing listeners. 2Day and Fox breakfast former heritage leaders both losing breakfast share must be very concerning for SCA. Come on Dave give readers and the industry some credit for knowing what’s going on. Refreshing to hear Duncan Campbell at least he knows when to stop spinning.

18 Apr 2020 - 10:54 am

After COVID19 the only thing that will make audiences seek out stations and networks will be the connection they have with the
stations talent.

18 Apr 2020 - 1:36 pm

Dave Cameron “ “I’m not sure if ARN would be hugely happy with that limited increase [at 97.3FM] given the marketing expenditure they would have had around Robin being back.” And SCA dont or havent spent money on marketing ?
Has Dave actually listened to his two Brisbane breakfast shows, not surprised 973 are beating them. They’ll win by fair margin when ratings are back just watch.
Btw how’s 2Dayfm going ?

Just a Geezer
18 Apr 2020 - 11:57 pm

@Garry – 2DAYFM went up in breakfast this survey…

@Michael HIT105 is beating 973 in Breakfast… and overall…and Triple M isn’t far behind. I mean breakfast was always gonig to take a hit when Robin left.

Also 2DAYFM is on track to where It needs to sit in the market. It’s beating/catching up with Nova in mornings & afternoons. I think they’ve learned they will never be like they used to be. It’s slowly reinventing it’s self.

19 Apr 2020 - 9:30 am

Mark my words Dave Cameron will give Paul Jackson’s Nova’s a run for their money. Dave has run the Hit network and Fox and knows what he’s doing. PJ will have his work cut out for him from now on. You can’t hide behind smooths success forever. No money in AC formats anyway.

19 Apr 2020 - 10:04 am

2dayfm went DOWN Mon-Fri and Breakfast went up .1% 2DAY is now one full point ahead of 2CH breakfast, awesome news for SCA sales teams.

Finances not okay
20 Apr 2020 - 9:08 am

ARN looking very silly getting rid of a number 1 show and number 1 talent like Bianca Dye and replacing with Robyn who cost more than 3 x the price and they are paying both contracts.

Don't throw stones
20 Apr 2020 - 11:09 am

There is a fundamental problem with Nova music, and always has been. They seem to continually blame the onair personalities and ignore what is staring them in the face, the music is average, bland and lacks any position. Killed in the workday everywhere with some embarrassing numbers in major markets.

The nova network is actually pretty average at the minute, no outstanding results anywhere.


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