Duncan Campbell – Planning for the future

Staff Writer

Following yesterday’s survey, we chatted with Four Group Programmers.

We will publish our chat with SCA's Craig Bruce later today; along with Nova Entertainments Paul Jackson, but now we talk with Duncan Campbell on ARN and how he sees the results.

Blair Sullivan:  Had a good day I reckon.

Duncan Campbell: It’s been a good year. This year has been one of those rare years you know, so we are making sure we enjoy it but acknowledging the competitive nature of the business means you have to always plan for the future.

It will end up being ARN’s most successful year ever. Station wise it will be 973’s best year ever and they look like getting number one every book this year, which will be great.  

And WS FM's best year and Gold FM's best year. It’s a good year and there will be no complaints.


BS:  If we jump straight into Sydney, that is the market everyone is talking about.

Great stations are consistent, and whilst KIIS is still #2 overall, it does tend to jump up and down a fair bit. Why is that do you think?

DC:  In this case it’s jumping around because of the volatility of the 40-54’s, they're not normally that volatile to be honest, so we need to look at the reason why that occurred. I suspect that has impacted the workdays and time spent listening but also we were hit in the more volatile 18 to 24 demographic and for stations which do target younger, that is what happens.

In all these situations, strategically I would look at trends.  There is no real trend there for Kiis  of any concern. We just believe it should be a stronger performing station than it is and we will look at what we need to do across the workday to ensure that .

BS:  That was actually one of my questions.  How will you be actually tackling Workday listening for Kiis – I noticed that you are doing the “Stars” taking over the station with Ed Sheeran and JT this week – are you going to look at leveraging more of that type of content?

DC:  Yeah… I mean making the workday more interesting to listen to. Looking tactically if we need to do more promotionally across the day in a contesting sense. We need to look at the music as well. We do regular tests on that. We will be actually debriefing one tomorrow for Kiis, so its very timely. So we will be just making sure that the duopoly is aligned as effectively as it can be and those adult audiences on Kiis are protected. That’s just a balancing act we have between the two stations. I think the 18 to 24’s will bounce around as they do and they will, so there is no real concern there for us.

BS:  Now if we put K&J to one side…..  What is KIIS’ point of difference compared to the other stations in the space? It’s pretty crowded right now.

DC:  Yeah.. it’s an Adult CHR ….we don’t plan to be a pure CHR in terms of breaking huge amounts of new music. And if you look at the demos that is what it would suggest. Very strong number 25-54, very strong numbers 40-54 as healthy number 18 to 24 as well.

The point of difference is slightly skewed more adult than other CHR’s, but it is as you say, the CHR market is broadly very competitive.

BS:  If we look at Melbourne, in a market with new Breakfast shows on Fox and Nova, your two Breakfast shows appear to be under-performing, to be frank.

Both Gold and Mix are ranked last of the FM stations, with Chrissie & Jane on Mix down for 3 surveys in a row now. What's the problem?


DC:  Oh.. well the Melbourne market is far from settled I think. That’s the headline for me. I mean you look at the 10+ numbers, you’ve got Fox on 7.8, Gold on 7.6. Nova 7.3, MMM 7.1 – its all very tight.

BS:  It’s a bloody tight battle…

DC:  I think if anyone says that the market has settled it's slightly premature. And we know we have got issues with the breakfast show performance, but that doesn’t mean we throw out the breakfast shows themselves. I think our challenge is to look at the structure we have behind the scenes, the resources we put into the shows because the reality is, if we can improve the performance of the Gold breakfast show with Bridge and Lehmo, then Gold could then seriously be a strong number 1 station down there.  And that’s part of our Melbourne focus down there,  to improve our performance for 2015.

BS:  What about the Kiis Brand? It is certainly doing the runs on the rumour mill. Where do you sit with that one?

DC:  I am not going to make any comments on that. Until we actually have formulated our strategy and happy to talk about it we are not going to pass any comments with Mix.

I mean Melbourne is a different market.  That’s all I'll say. And Mix 101.1 is stronger than Mix 1065 was, but at the end of the day we are looking at all options down there in terms of what we can do to improve our performance for next year.  

BS:  If we swing up to Brisbane, a little down again in Breakfast for 97.3 – second time round – but you are blitzing it there overall.

DC:  Whenever you have high numbers as  we do in Adelaide and Brisbane, the fact that they dip a little bit sort of becomes irrelevant unless there is a serious trend developing. And in neither of those markets there is. Brisbane as I said before, will be its best year ever and we have Robyn Bailey off for part of the survey and she returns next week.

BS:  How is Robyn doing?

DC:  Yeah she’s doing well- as well as can be expected but she has a very positive attitude and she is keen to get back to work. We allowed her the space she needed to deal with the family issues she had to deal with. The last conversation with her she was very keen to get back next week and is looking forward to it.

So that will make a difference.  She is an integral part of that show, but the daytime numbers all look pretty good. We took a bit of a hit in evenings and weekends but still, if you look historically 973 does tend to ebb and flow a bit but this year it has maintained that strong position and I realistically expect that to continue to be the case for the remainder of this year.   

BS:  What about 4KQ?

DC:  They have had a great year as well. This survey there was bit of a slight dip – a 7.6 share for an AM station is pretty impressive.

BS:  And with Adelaide, it can’t be a set and forget but it’s doing well.

DC:  It’s certainly not set and forget. The thing with broad formats is you’ve got to actually be on your game just as much as you would with a  CHR battle in Sydney to some degree. Because you can be – there is more to lose if you like.

Looking across, some losses 18 to 24 which we are not concerned about. 25 to 39 softened a little bit but everything is looking pretty good.  No issues for us.

Cruise again is having a great year, but it came back a little this book, which gave SAFM a little bit of breathing space so we are happy to do that, he says tongue in cheek.     

BS:  What is the number 1 challenge facing you as Group PD for the network right now?

DC:  It’s a lot more difficult to maintain a number 1 position than it is to gain it.

The challenge for me is to ensure that the network is ready to respond to any movement particularly SCA, who will no doubt be sort of planning, planning some changes to their Today Network given that they wouldn’t be happy with the ratings today. Obviously Fox they would be, but the rest wouldn’t be overly happy.

So it’s just making sure we are ready for any changes and counter program if we need too.

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