Farewell B105 …… The End of a Brand and the End of an Era.

Contributor

Recently b105 had its 25th anniversary. I was fortunate to be the Program Director who led the team that launched B105 25 years ago.

In 1990 b105 made radio history when it debuted in the #1 position following the move from 4BK (AM) to b105 (FM).

And now b105 is no more, Southern Cross Austereo has rebranded it as hit105.

I was lucky to be a part of one of the best teams ever assembled at one radio station. They say success is all about surrounding yourself with the right people, and that’s what we did at b105.

Now the b105 brand name is gone. Finished.

Despite my personal connection to the b105 brand, in my view the change will prove to be a smart, strategic move that’s right for the long term. It’s fresh and it’s new.

As with most radio stations, the vast majority of b105’s listeners would recall the station by its frequency  ‘105 ‘. The original 18-39 audience is now between the ages of 43 and 64, and many will have moved on in their listening habits.

Southern Cross Austereo’s new hit105 is in direct competition with Nova Entertainment’s Nova 106.9. Both stations are CHR formatted, and target an under 40 audience with a core of 18-34 so the new brand name fits the competitive landscape.

Within that CHR position, obviously current ‘Hits‘ play a massive role, and now hit105 has its music description ‘Hits‘ in its brand name. Over time, this could be a strategic dilemma for Nova who use the positioning “Fresh Hits” on air.

Though Nova as leaders can afford to keep going with it for now and are unlikely to make any immediate change to their positioning, at the end of the day, the programming, the content is what will determine ratings. The key contributors to ratings being breakfast, music and marketing.

Branding radio stations is a bit different to branding more generic consumer products such as toothpaste or cola brands.

In radio it is largely the content that creates the brand. Programmers have the opportunity to continually differentiate the product, the content.

So whilst it’s a big move to re-brand such an iconic station brand like b105 and it is one that I have some attachment to, it should prove to be a good move for SCA.

Craig Bruce, SCA’s Head of Content, is pushing the company forward, making bold moves that make strategic sense, showing strong leadership and looking to the future rather than navel gazing about the past. He and his programmers are creating a new future for the network.

And now it is surely only a matter of time until they rebrand all of the remaining Today Network stations, especially 2DayFM which has been damaged by weak, confused listener perceptions, Kyle and Jackie’s departure, the prank call, and poor ratings.

Fox is probably the only station where you might use a hybrid brand for a while, given Fox’s continued strength and very strong heritage in the Melbourne market.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire SCA regional network including the SEAFM stations were rebranded as Hit. This would give Australia a truly nationally branded network, and anything that makes it easier for radio advertisers is a good thing.

Given the run that SCA have had in the past couple of years, this gives its premium and key potential revenue generating Today network a new focus, direction and renewal. It gives the company and its staff hope and confidence for the future, whilst creating a new and exciting ‘sales story’

All brands have cycles. ARN have the new Kiis brand in the key markets, it’s an exciting, cool brand that is resonating and the national Nova brand is in great shape. The older Today brands of SAFM, b105 and 2DAY were tired, and for whatever reason listeners were not engaging with them as much as they had previously.

It’s a Hit. It may be the end of an iconic brand and the end of an era, but it’s the start of a new one.

Farewell b105. Thanks for the memories.

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year. He’s Director of Marchmedia and Pacific Retail Management.

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