Craig Bruce: “Jules, Merrick & Sophie will be on 2Day Brekky in 2015”

Staff Writer

Following yesterday’s survey, we chatted with some of the nations Group Programmers.

Earlier was Duncan Campbell on ARN and Paul Jackson on Nova Entertainment

The network that most have their eyes on right now is Southern Cross Austereo. A few challenges around the group and Group Content Director, Craig Bruce joins us to talk about Survey #6 and answers all our questions including 2day  FM and breakfast.

Blair Sullivan: So you’ve had an interesting day?

Craig Bruce: It’s always interesting when you’ve got ten stations. 

We look at a good day as being 7 up 3 down, anything above that is, and I think in the last two or three years we have had that happen on a couple of occasions and I think again today’s results, 5 up 5 down and equal #1 in Perth, #1 in Melbourne, #1 Breaky show in Melbourne,  some good solid growth signs in Adelaide on both brands and 4MMM in good shape.  

And then there’s probably three stations that are seriously under-performing, 2DayFM, 929, b105, so yeah it’s just one of those things where you’ve got a few stations in play it’s hard to get them all lined-up and heading in the one direction at the one moment.

BS: You've been very supportive of the 2DAY Breakfast show, but surely the market has spoken and for whatever reason has rejected the show. Would you agree?

CB:  Well I mean obviously we’re disappointed with the result, no question about that and, I don’t think the result is reflective of how the show is sounding and that’s probably where the disappointment and frustration comes from. 

I think that the show with the three of them, now that we’ve sort of tightened the format and made it a little more clear and easy to follow for everyone it has, and continues to improve in terms of its sound and output and everyone’s working hard on the show and so we were disappointed for all of those reasons and with so much personal effort and energy having gone into it that we didn’t seen an improvement on the score board, but our position on the 2DAY strategy hasn’t changed. 

We’re following a game plan that we set up at the start of the year, and you know the context of the market is we’re up against some shows that have been around for a long period of time. 

I mean Kyle and Jacq are 12 years in the making, Amanda and Jonesy are coming towards their 10th year, probably longer now and they’ve certainly had their ups and downs over that period of time.  They’re #1 now, but that hasn’t always been the case over the journey. 

Fitzy and Wippa, we’ve seen how that show has had its ebbs and flows along the way as well so those shows have been around for a long period of time, so the market is really, really challenging for us and we’re building a new combination against these shows and certainly the challenge is to find an audience and find a position in the market against them, which is proving to be difficult.


BS: Will Jules, Merrick and Sophie be on breakfast at 2Day in 2015?

CB:  Absolutely!  That’s our plan.

BS: How do you keep a team motivated when they are getting hammered?

CB:  Well, they’re motivated by different things, as we all are.  I mean at the end of the day they feel as though their chemistry continues to improve and the show continues to get better and that’s motivation in itself.  And they’re professional. 

We can isolate them from the radio media bubble that comes to the show every five to six weeks when a result comes out and they have managed to be sort of incredibly professional and thick skinned through that. 

It’s been really difficult and challenging for them and everyone in and around the show and working on the show…. there’s a level of positivity and buoyancy that belies the result.

BS: When we last spoke to each other on Survey #5 you said: “We are not afraid of Nova in any way, shape or form in Sydney – that's our current position for 2day, we are going after them first.”

Is Nova still beatable?

CB:  Oh, absolutely.  Yeah, no question.

BS:  Is there room for 3 hit-focused stations in Sydney?

CB:  Well we think there is. 

BS:  What is 2Day’s point of difference compared to the other stations in the space?

CB:  Well, at the moment I think the point of difference is a combination of things.  That we are yet to communicate effectively to a broader audience, and it’s a combination of a few things that are still yet to play out over the next period of time, that we will be announcing in the next little period of time. 

And then there’s some elements to the radio station that we think are unique to 2Day FM which we haven’t probably done a good enough job either above the line or below the line in terms of marketing.

BS:  Is the 2Day challenge the biggest you have faced in your time as Group PD?

CB: It’s certainly up there, but when I think about when I started 4 and a half, five years ago, 2MMM, the 2.3 share in breakfast, so that was a challenge and 3MMM was a 3.4 share in breakfast at the time so they were pretty big turnarounds  for us. 

Hamish and Andy left drive 12 months into this role.  I mean, it comes with the territory, there’s never a dull moment, there’s always something sick, there’s always something to improve.  And that’s not underplaying the challenge ahead of us with 2Day FM, it’s a seriously big one for us and no-one is suggesting any different, but I believe in the people around us, and I think that we can turn this around. 

You know I was at 2Day FM two years ago when we had our worst year in the station’s history, previous to this one which was the Judith Lucy Show and we replaced Judith Lucy with Kyle & Jacq at the end of that year and very quickly went I think from 9th to 1st in the space of 12 to 18 months. 

So these turnarounds can happen quickly, ask Duncan Campbell, I mean Mix in Sydney was nowhere this time last year, it’s now #1.  And yes, we gifted them the #1 breakfast show in Sydney to help him get there, but you know the ARN story certainly plays out off the back of some of those really significant and courageous decisions they’ve made so look, you’re never completely out of it and we never ever rest on our laurels when we’re winning.

BS: Would you agree that your legacy will be driven to a large part in how you get the station out of the current position?

CB:  My personal legacy?

BS:  Yeah.

CB:  Oh God, I hadn’t really even thought about it to be honest.  I mean, yeah, I’m not personally.  I don’t take it personally.  I’ve had success and failures along the way.  Plenty of failures.  And it comes with the role I guess, that you’re going to have some moments where, in a creative endeavour you’re not going to get every single show and every single scenario right every single time.  It’s impossible to do that.  And I think that the big things happen slowly. 

I think that we’ve had a year that, probably in hindsight that we were always going to have when we made the decision on Kyle & Jackie O at the end of last year.  And we’ve ripped off the bandaid in other markets, you know Matt & Jo finishing at the end of last year, with Fifi & Dave coming through and have held up incredibly strongly, which you know by the way no-one seems to want to talk about.

BS:  No, we will talk about that.

CB:  No, no, we don’t have to.  My legacy will be whatever people choose it will be and I haven’t really thought too much about that.  It’s a good question, but it’s not something I spend too much time thinking about.

BS: Let’s move to 2MMM it has improved – some growth in 25-39's which I am sure you are happy about?

CB:  Yeah, the TripleM network as a whole has held up really well this year, and it hasn’t just held up, there’s been some terrific growth right across the country. 

4MMM has come through for us really well for us today and in good shape as we sort of turn the corner towards the back end of the year with some really strong 25-54 male numbers, we’re clear #1 in that market. 

2MMM bounced back well, we’ve got some good momentum coming into survey 7.  We had a bad wave into the previous book which we traded through really quickly, which we’re happy with. 

3MMM is off a little from the 10+ share perspective, but certainly it’s 25-54 numbers, you know #1 in Breakfast still, and in very good shape.  Adelaide, two books in with the new Breakfast show and that new format, there’s still a lot of growth in my opinion and still growth to come with the 40-54 demos that I think you’ll see over the next period of time.  So, we’re pretty happy with the TripleM network as a whole.

Mix is in a battle, Nova Perth has spent close to $400,000 in the last two or three books buying the last survey, so whether that continues when they turn the money off will be interesting to see, but we’re up against that in that market, and holding up OK. 

Obviously 929’s new show is obviously getting lost in the battle there, but Mix is still holding its position reasonably strongly, but we’ve still got a battle on our hands, so yeah, the adult stations and the TripleM format did reasonably well for us today.



BS: Last time we talked about the group’s ability to build create breakfast shows… Fifi and Dave is an example of that… just 9 months old and number 2 in the market – Fox number 1 FM.

You’ve obviously got your hands full with a few things on the go –  2Day and now you’ve pushed the reset button on SA FM breakfast in Adelaide. For SA FM you actually had some good increases there again?

CB:  Yeah, we did and look, we had the button pushed on us and Hayley’s made a personal choice, just re-setting her own life, she had baby no.2, and that’s fine, but we’re a fair way down the track in terms of a plan for that market, which will play out over the next two or three weeks. 

I think we’ve got some really good options, and we’re really excited about that, and we’re going to continue with Michael next year with weekend breakfast and he’ll do some national breakfast roles for us as well and some other projects that he will work on, so we still think there’s a lot for him to offer the group over the next five to ten years and certainly next year will give us a chance to sort of get him well and truly established into that weekend breakfast national platform for us. 

The Adelaide result was off the back of the back of a pretty good previous book as well, there’s a couple of good books in a row. 

Look, we’re much further off the pace than we would like to be and you know, we’re not in the business of betting #3 in Adelaide, we want to see if we can get well and truly up into that clear a dominant under 40 position and hopefully the new breakfast show and the other changes that are coming to Adelaide the 2Day Network as a whole will help us get there.

BS: b105 breakfast… has it found its spark yet?

CB:  Well, the numbers would suggest that it is struggling and I guess that there’s a difference, you can look at breakfast shows and I guess you’ve got to start with where they’re at in their cycle. 

In Perth, you know we can deal with the numbers with Heidi, Will & Woody, given they’re a brand new show and finding their feet against a show that has been around for a long period of time. 

For Brisbane, for whatever reason, having had close to four to five years in the market that the show has come off over the last three or four books, we’ll just have to work closely with them and with the product team on some solutions around that, which we’ll do over the next couple of weeks.

BS: You were hoping for higher numbers for Triple M breakfast in Brisbane.. How did that pan out?

CB:  Good, they had almost a point increase in breakfast and very strong workday numbers, very strong drive numbers and a really good 25-54 male profile, a dominant #1. 

So 4MMM is in really good shape and you know, we thought that very early on, that Ed Kavalee had made a genuine improvement to the show right from the start and we are starting to see that come through and starting to see some 25-54 male numbers come off the NOVA breakfast show, which obviously helps our overall cause, so we’re half way there in Brisbane, we’ve just got a bit of work to do on b105.


BS: What is the number one challenge facing you as Group PD for the network right now?

CB:  Well, we’ve got breakfast shows at different levels of development and product cycle and the FOX breakfast show has moved very quickly through the early stages of its launch into a position of relative strength, and we’re certainly well placed in that market. 

We’ve got a brand new breakfast show coming to Adelaide in the next little period of time, we’ve got a nine month old show on in Perth, we’ve got a nine month old show on in Sydney and a show that’s struggling in Brisbane. 

So there’s one out of five on the 2Day network, and that essentially is the opportunity for us to improve each of those markets individually and collectively to add some elements to the 2Day network that have been missing over the last period of time.  You’ll see some announcements sooner rather than later.

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