Finally….women are taking over radio


Women have taken over the radio airwaves. In addition to the growing number of women with executive influence in radio (see my previous article here), there has been a quiet revolution going on at ARN's Mix Sydney and Melbourne stations.

ARN have had the courage and the strategic sense to 'Do Something Different' – in particular with their Breakfast Shows.

The new Mix Sydney line up of Sami & Yumi is serving up something different in that market. And from listening to Monday’s show, they are providing unique, compelling radio content that is going to attract a strong audience.

Their topic of 'Do men really care about hair … down there' attracted great calls from both men and women. The calls included discussion about Brazilians, Landing strips and The Hitler! (By the way, the overwhelming result was that men don't care about 'hair down there').

Pretty racy stuff for first thing Monday morning. Or is it? It’s nothing really that hasn't been covered by magazines like Cleo – which was launched back in 1972.
or hear it here

It’s still early days for the new Mix Sydney Breakfast show but it will grow the audience over time. Add to that the national Chrissie & Jane show weekdays at 3pm and it makes an appealing offering. No teens, all 25 plus females – and it will attract strong males numbers also. Chrissie & Jane’s breakfast show at Mix Melbourne has already increased share to 6.3% – and that’s without the heavy weight marketing spends that the Southern Cross Austereo or dmg Networks would spend to support their shows and brands.

As well as audience size, ARN’s Sydney and Melbourne breakfast shows are delivering a quality audience that’s ‘salable’. Quality female demographics are a very sound sales proposition. In the 2011 census there were 4,553,061 females aged 25-54.

Of course, it has been tried before. Judith Lucy and Kaz Cooke did all-female weekend shows on the Today network long ago. But now, in a more segmented market, the ratings numbers can work.

Prior to that, in the nineties Austereo put the legendary Wendy Harmer on as the lead of 2DAY breakfast, and Tracy Bartram as the lead on Fox. It was both different and unique. For the first time these women were the 'stars' of the show – they had top billing and they were what made the shows different and unique. And, not surprisingly, women and quite a few men wanted to hear what women had to say!

Up until then females were the 'weather girls' or 'news readers' on radio and 'barrel girls' on television such as Jackie McDonald on Hey Hey It’s Saturday – or Working Dog’s Jane Kennedy, who started as 3UZ's traffic reporter before she joined The D Generation on Triple M.

For the last decade there is no doubt that Kyle and Jackie O on 2DAY and Matt & Jo on Fox are two of the best breakfast shows ever heard in Australia. Yet, over the longer-term, the new Mix breakfast shows are going to put greater pressure on SCA's market leaders 2DAY and Fox, and they are going to have to maintain heavy marketing spends to defend their ratings share.

Next Tuesday’s ratings may see Chrissie and Jane continue their already strong growth, and Sami & Yumi may see some early positive signs. But given the brilliantly executed SCA 'That Feeling' television campaign which has been backed with a very heavy spend over summer, it could prove to be difficult just yet. So, even if it’s too early for Sami & Yumi’s show to impact the diaries, I have no doubt that ARN’s in-house perceptual tracking will be showing good, early signs. They are going to get credit for 'Doing Something Different'

Mix Melbourne & Sydney will grow and continue to put greater pressure on 2DAY and FOX this year. ARN's challenge will be to stay with these lineups, promote them, and build up word of mouth in each respective market.

Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network


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