Duncan Cambell: The Rise of ARN – Part 2

2014 has been the “The Rise of ARN”  

In Part 1 with Group Content Director Duncan Campbell, we talked about the evolution of the KIIS brand, Kyle and Jakie O and the cultural shift within the company.

In the last number of months ARN  has secured some big high profile names – big money, how then do they manage pay expectations of other staff?

In part 2 we will also look at the new Breakfast team of Matt Tilley and Jane Hall and what ground work goes into building a brand new show and developing new talent for the group.  But we will  start off with ARN’s move to secure Hughesy and Kate for network drive.

Blair Sullivan:  Now,  I will put my hand up and say I played the “About that ARN contract” game  for Hughesy and Kate that played out on social media with both of them.  How long had you been negotiating with them to get them on board?

Duncan Campbell: It was since September – but our ideas and plans for 2015 were really sort of developed in March this year.

We had been thinking about what we do with Mix next year in Melbourne. It wasn’t going to be a KIIIS 1065 with Kyle and Jackie O factor, so to quote Craig Bruce “It wasn’t going to be a free kick”, we are very aware of that. So the result is the talent bookending we have put in place in Melbourne.    


BS: It’s turning into a very crowded space in Drive for 2015.  With Hughesy and Kate, what will be their point of difference?

DC: We took them on because we wanted Hughesy and Kate strategically. We wanted to attract some cume across from NOVA.

With Hughesy and Kate it is less of point of a difference to me, we wanted their fan base. 

We have been lucky with Mix this year to have some very high cumes.  We are possibly going to roll into 2015 with a 900,000 cume on the station. If we can then draw the Hughesy and Kate  fan base onto KIIS 101.1 that is going to be a huge benefit to us. And then of course in the all-important breakfast space you’ve got the Matt Tilley fan base, which is significant in Melbourne.

So you’ve got Matt Tilley – a strong fan base, loyal, moving across from Fox. And you’ll have Hughesy and Kate’s fan base moving across from NOVA. They might not all come across obviously, but we definitely wanted that double pincer movement if you like, of cume moving into KIIS 101.1.


BS: Now the signing of high profile names like Kyle & Jackie , Hughesy and Kate and Matt Tilley.. how do you manage pay expectations then of other staff?

DC: I don’t think that comes into play at all. The reality of the business is we are here to be successful and there’s not a huge depth of talent that will attract an audience to radio, so you have to target those that do. .

This is where I possibly disagree with some of the comments being made about older breakfast shows or older talent.

When you look around the world today, the biggest and best breakfast shows are the most established and they tend to be slightly older.

You’ve got Chris Evans on Radio 2 (UK) – hugely popular. Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran’s etc, the list goes on. Kyle and Jackie O sit in that obviously.

And Hughesy and Kate who were on NOVA and Matt Tilley. I mean these are established people, and the reason they are so successful is because there is not a huge depth of talent that will attract an audience. And so we were very determined to make sure that we gave KIIS 101.1 the best chance possible. We targeted the talent that would attract an audience quickly.


BS: There has been a lot of media coverage around Chrissie Swan's departure, which I'm sure you expected. The thrust of the coverage has largely been Chrissie saying she does not know why her contract was not renewed.  What was the line in the sand with Chrissie?

DC: Look, there are areas that I won’t talk about in terms of the decision not to keep Chrissie on. We feel that we have put together the right combination in terms of Jane Hall and Matt Tilley.

I think Jane has got a huge amount of untapped potential. The initial meetings with Jane and Matt were very positive. Matt likes working with strong women and Jane is certainly a strong female. She has a fan base in Melbourne as well and I am quite excited about the show  next year.


BS: Matt's obviously famous for his gotcha calls in the past… he has come out and said that’s not gonna happen… we can’t go through every part with a chat like this, but what kind of ground work goes into building a brand new breakfast show like this?

DC: We start with the talent and the various character traits that each of them have. And then the overall personality of the show and how that fits in with the  radio station.  

And from that you start building the individual pieces.

The station is going to have the same sort of energy that the Sydney KIIS station has.

A different station though, it’s targeted very specifically for the Melbourne market.


BS: Are we expecting any more announcements around breakfast for Melbourne?

DC: In terms of talent?

BS: Yeah

DC: No – all done


BS: In terms of Mix 101.1 being dropped, it’s another name change for Melbourne and there was a lot of resistance when it was changed from TTfm to Mix 101.1, how will this be different with KIIS 101.1?

DC: Well the awareness levels will be very high because the marketing will be very strong behind it, which wasn’t necessarily the case with MIX when it changed from TT. That was one of the key findings with Mix101.1 and Mix1065. The awareness levels were not what they should have been.

I think for radio today, you have to keep these brands front of mind and if you don’t, over time the awareness levels fall and that impacts diary keepers and therefore impacts ratings.

There will be strong marketing behind KIIS 101.1 – those awareness levels will be high and they will be maintained and sustained over time as well.


BS: Nights… With KIIS 1065 we saw the pop up show of Tim Lee and Biggzy for a couple of weeks – how was that?

DC: I think it was fine, one of ARN’s inner challenges going forward which we have identified is the need to start to build some shows for the future. Our focus very much this year has been 2015 and Melbourne, that launch is on the 19th of January. Then at some point next year we will then sit down and decide what sort of show we are going to put together for the future.

So that was a bit of a trial (Tim Lee and Biggzy), it worked well. That show was never going to be a breakfast show for us in 2015, it’s just too early.

I think for all of us, I think what this year has shown us, the radio groups need to start looking at where the next breakfast show and the next drive show is going to come from at some point. And start developing those, so you don’t have that sort of shock value like when Kyle and Jackie O left 2day FM.


BS: You announced the re-brand of both Mix Adelaide and 973 in Brisbane… You now have the KIIS network. Are those colours used for the non-KIIS brands scarily close to what SCA have used for Hit, or has SCA used colours close to KIIS?

DC: I think SCA have used colours very close to KIIS, but look we are very flattered by that.

It just made sense to bring the look of the stations more inline and we have kept a little bit of the heritage there with the blue lower lip of the KIIS logo for Mix in Adelaide and 973 in Brisbane.


In Part 3 of the rise of ARN, we touch on the marketing of KIIS and Kyle and Jackie O. iHeartRadio and where it fits in the picture. We will unpack the rise of the Pure Gold Brand and find out what keeps Duncan motivated and what’s ahead for 2015.

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