Craig Bruce: a new era, a new generation of shows

Staff Writer

If you haven't yet seen the results and analysis from Survey 8, see it all here.

You can also see the press releases and the ups and downs.

Yesterday I spoke with Craig Bruce, Head of Content at Southern Cross Austereo, to find out how he saw the Today and Triple M network results in the final survey of 2013 and how the all important plans are coming together for 2014.

Mark: You'd be pleased with the #1 FM Sydney and Melbourne result and being #1 overall in Perth ?

Craig: Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are very strong for lots of different reasons. Probably the Perth result was the stand out from a group perspective. A fantastic start from a station with a brand new breakfast show. We've got a 5 point gap over 96FM in breakfast now and a clear gap on Nova in breakfast as well. The show (Clairsy, Shane and Kymba) has launched really well, it was 5 years in the making as they were in drive as our plan B and our backup option for Fred. They've gone in and had a fantastic first book. I must say, Erica Hodge (right) has done an absolutely brilliant job in her first survey as a Content Director.

The 92.9 result was okay as well. We're certainly going to spend a significant amount of money, time and effort on 92.9, SAFM and B105 next year from a marketing point of view. We've already got some good numbers under 24 for 92.9 so the base is there we just need to build and work into those 25-39's.

The 3MMM and Fox results were amazing. It was great to finish off the Matt and Jo era with the station being number 1 FM overall and Eddie and the Hot Breakfast having an amazing result. I can't think of too many shows that have gone from a 3 to a 9 over 3 or 4 years. An extraordinary effort and those 25-39 numbers for 3MMM are very strong as well.

Mark: That should hold well for 2014 for 3MMM don't you think with all the change happening around you in Melbourne ?

Craig: Given there's change happening at breakfast at Fox and Nova 100 I think there's probably some audience that might come and have a look at us. You would think that we're reasonably well placed for a strong 2014 on both brands for Melbourne. We're really confident with Fifi and Dave, we think we've got the makings of a really strong show, they're coming off a strong base and clearly the brand is holding up well in Melbourne.

Mark: You would have heard that Meshel and Tommy started on Nova 100 breakfast this morning ?

Craig: I'm a huge fan of Meshel. I don't really know Tommy's radio work particularly well but I'm sure they'll put together a strong show.

Mark: The Fifi and Jules drive farewell did quite well in Melbourne, as did Matt and Jo's.

Craig: It's interesting. You always expect a spike with a farewell on a successful show, then you look at the 2Day number and that was surprising in some ways, we were expecting a bigger spike given how long Kyle and Jackie O had been on the station.

Mark: To my ears the Kyle and Jackie O farewell wasn't like the Hughesy and Kate / Matt and Jo farewells, it was more of a slide out the door farewell (laughs).

Craig: (laughs) That's one way to put it. From an on-air perspective we really celebrated their best content, so we really made an effort to give them a great send off. Obviously there was a lot of talk in the media and around the show so I was surprised that it came off a little. I'm not disappointed but I'm surprised it didn't finish with a stronger number.

Mark: Moving onto Triple M Sydney's result.

Craig: It was a good result for Triple M as well. Solid without it being spectacular. I still think there's probably some upside for us next year on 2MMM given The Grill Team has had a good consistent run over the last 3 or 4 years. We've seen some better workday numbers in this book and a good strong final result for drive for Merrick's last show on Triple M. Depending on what WSFM does next year, if it moves to a pop format for 40+, they're possibly looking to migrate the Mix audience across. So potentially there's some audience there for Triple M.

Mark: How much time do you spend on these numbers considering a big reset button gets pushed with the change to GfK but also with the amount of change. Do you take a look at the numbers then put them aside and get on with building all the new shows ?

Craig: Yeah pretty well Mark. Obviously the results are there to be traded with and they're important. Given the significant number of changes from Matt Tilley and Joe Hildebrand (right) going into national drive on Triple M to a new national drive show on the Today network (which we haven't announced yet) to new breakfast shows in Melbourne and Sydney, both shows in Perth are essentially new, there's adjustments still to come in a couple of other markets as well. It's unprecedented change for us so we will use this moment to reset some priorities around how we plan on taking our brands and our shows to market.

Certainly from a marketing perspective we will invest heavily in brands that we probably haven't across the course of the last few years – certainly in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth – and a significant change of approach in terms of how we present our brands both on the air and in the market.

It's a new era, a new generation of shows coming through and we're taking that approach in versus seeing it as a negative. These things don't last forever, radio does go in cycles. We'll reset ourselves and approach the new year with some originality and creativity.

Mark: I know you're not ready to reveal the 2Day FM breakfast lineup but can you tell us how many people will be on the show ?

Craig: Ummmmmmm, no I can't. But hopefully we have a surprise still left up our sleeve (laughs). I think most people have guessed who they think will be on the show but there could be one element that we can bring to the table that will bring a bit of a wow factor.

Mark: So you're probably looking to reveal the new 2Day breakfast show and Today national drive in the next week ?

Craig: We are aiming to have something out about 2Day breakfast by the end of the week and then Today drive early next week.

Mark: And then you can collapse in a heap on Christmas day.

Craig: Yeah tell me about it. I'll be asleep on the couch by 2 (laughs)

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