Duncan Campbell’s Top 5 takeaways from Survey #4

Former Assistant Editor

ARN was delivered a mixed book in Survey #4.

KIIS 106.5 and Kyle & Jackie O lost share in Sydney, despite the latter remaining in top spot among FM stations (ahead of WSFM in 2nd).

Melbourne’s ratings saw a really great result for Jase & PJ, but Christian O’Connell lost ground.

Meantime there were ups in Brisbane, downs in Adelaide (yet Mix remains #1), and 96FM had a flat survey in the wake of a station overhaul over the past month.

Radio Today caught up with national content director Duncan Campbell to get his take on the halfway point of the year.

Now is the time to commit to reigniting 96FM

96FM in Perth has a new managing director in Gary Roberts, a new content director in Dan Underhill and a new Breakfast show in Botica’s Bunch.

Campbell breaks down how the last few weeks, in particular, have played out in the battle to resurrect the struggling station.

“I think we had several attempts to ignite or reignite 96FM and we came to the conclusion that we really needed someone, a leadership figure over there,” Campbell explains.

“I recommended to Ciaran [Davis] that we talk to Gary Roberts. No one knows that market like Gary does, and for him it was very much completing the circle, coming back to where it all began for him, in terms of his Perth career.

Campbell says that ARN is still testing and evolving the new ‘Real Music’ strategy.

“We did a lot of research in May and found the position we wanted to occupy. It’s [about] reclaiming the heritage of 96FM really.

“Gary was able to entice Fred and particularly Fred out of retirement, and paired with Lisa Shaw again, and Botica’s Bunch was reformed.

“That’s a great coup, and as you say, very much part of the strategy and Fred would only have ever come back for Gary.”

Jase & PJ are starting to resonate in Melbourne

Duncan Campbell has always been one of the biggest supported of the KIIS Melbourne Breakfast team, and to see them up above Triple M’s Hot Breakfast is a result of genuine, hard work.

“I think you can never isolate these results to one factor… we’re seeing some signs of cume growth… Audience comes first and you convert that audience into listening.

Jase & PJ are incredibly consistent in terms of their content, explains Campbell.

“We saw very little movement at all in their first year.

“To their credit, they never lost faith and never lost focus, and I think they expected us to wobble which we never did.

“This is but one result today, but I think it’s a 1.3 jump, it’s not in the realms of being a statistical anomaly.

“It’s a good jump and it’s not unrealistic, and so the key now will be just sustaining that.”

“Today’s a very special day in terms of validating the reasons why they came across and all the hard work they’ve put in.

“Yes, it does feel good, it would feel good to be above The Hot Breakfast, no doubt about that.”

There’s no intention at this stage to move Jase & PJ into Drive for Will & Woody.

“There’s no point filling a hole somewhere else potentially, or hypothetically, and then leaving another one, you know what I mean?

“To build breakfast audiences is very difficult and they’ve been very persistent, persevered, and signs are looking good.”


The Future Of Will & Woody

No matter how it’s spun, Will & Woody on Drive isn’t delivering the results that ARN would have hoped for at this stage.

Despite being 18 months in, Campbell is determined to give the show the time it needs and insists that relatively unknown personalities need more time than established shows to bed in.

“They’re very keen and very determined to make a success of it,” he said.

“Personally, I’ve got a bit invested in it as well, in terms of it was part of that bold Melbourne strategy we’ve put in place a couple of years ago.

“Drive’s a very competitive landscape, though. You’ve got some big shows there to compete with, and they, of course, have come into that environment as unknowns. It takes longer.

“You can’t apply the same timescale as you can to known personalities.”

Whether ARN will persist with the show if it doesn’t show signs of growth by year’s end may be another question.

Will & Woody were put into Drive “to build into the future… not just to plug a hole”.

In saying that Campbell admits “it can’t be too long term, because the business of radio doesn’t work like that.

“It’s basically the two-year timescale. I think by that stage you would expect to see certainly strong, solid signs of growth or potential growth on the horizon.”

2DayFM, KIIS and Sydney Breakfast in general

Campbell compares 2DayFM’s struggles on Breakfast to KIIS 101.1’s issues in the same slot before ARN hired Jase & PJ.

“You can’t continue to just put people together and hope that they’re going to work. I mean, it’s like rolling a dice at a baccarat table,” he says.

“We did that before in Melbourne and year after year, it was hits sometimes, mainly misses.

“But the advantage of hiring a Jase & PJ was the chemistry was there. You can’t buy that.”

Ultimately, the one thing that Kyle & Jackie O have over all-comers is habitual listening, which can only be built over time with a strong show.

“The entrenched habitual listening with Kyle & Jackie O is just not going to subside anytime soon.

“I’ll caveat that by saying I claim no credit for that show, but they can’t just keep putting people together on 2DayFM and hoping it’s going to work.

“I think they have to take one of their regional shows that they’ve got confidence in, the chemistry’s there, and invest in marketing that, and it’ll grow slowly over time.”

Campbell suggests that perhaps it’s time to get rid of the 2DayFM brand entirely, like ARN did getting rid of Mix and rebranding to KIIS.

“We did eradicate the Mix 1065 brand, which had images of Celine Dion etc attached to it, which was not ideal.

“I think maybe it’s the right time to rebrand it and just park that 2DayFM brand into radio history and take a bold step by investing in one of their really good regional shows and marketing that under the umbrella of a new station brand.”

Gold, smoothfm and sport

Like NOVA’s Paul Jackson, Campbell admits that seasonal programming like AFL coverage in Melbourne can have some impact on Gold’s numbers.

Christian O’Connell took a dip this book, but Gold Melbourne remains one of the highest cuming stations in the country.

“These new shows, they tend to move forward and they slightly come back a bit, and you add into that the AFL season.”

Campbell is still of the belief that once you tune into Christian’s Breakfast show, you’ll be hooked, and he expects the show to keep growing over time.

“The case of Christian is being a solo figurehead… it’s a very different show than is on offer.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an acquired taste, but it’s certainly once you lock in the show and you get it, you’re there. You’re a fan for life.”

Seasonal audience movement also has an impact on Gold Network competitor smoothfm, says Campbell.

But he believes that this book, which saw smoothfm drop to third on 8.8% (-1.5), is a better reflection of where the station is at.

“I think Smooth was running hotter than perhaps it should have been.

“I still give credit to Paul Jackson, what he’s done with the station.

“It’s a great competitor for WS & Gold, with a lot of audience share in between the two, so we don’t certainly write-off Smooth in any shape or form.”

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Recent comments (6)
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12 Jul 2019 - 4:39 pm

What regional show would you put onto Sydney breakfast?

13 Jul 2019 - 7:57 am

Probably time for ARN to rebrand Mix Adelaide and 97.3fm Brisbane. SCAs rebranding of all their regional in HIT and MMM has enhanced their overall image. Sure local identity has been lost but a national image is more powerful.

Neil Docherty
14 Jul 2019 - 6:39 pm

Smooth deliver a seamless row of music and a less talk format with no clutter.
WS & Gold have a lot of clutter during the work day and on weekends…top five from 1985 blah blah blah…..cut the talk, reduce the call sign imaging, just play the music and introduce more new stuff.

15 Jul 2019 - 2:02 pm

Regional or NZ shows don’t work in the big metro markets.

15 Jul 2019 - 6:45 pm

Regional talent don’t understand the pressures of metro radio. Leave the current show and let them settle in.

15 Jul 2019 - 6:48 pm

Jimmy and Nath for 2Day Breakfast.


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