Game on: The SEN plan for Brisbane
There’s no denying Queenslanders love their sport.
But wall-to-wall sport, 24/7? It’s just not cricket.
That’s been the overwhelming sentiment among loyal 4KQ listeners, hours out from the Brisbane station switching off for good at midnight tomorrow and 693AM beginning its new life as SENQ.
To say the backlash has been heavy would be an understatement.
But respected Queensland sports journalist Robert Craddock believes the new format makes sense.
Craddock – who provides a weekly report for Gerard Whateley’s morning show on SEN in Melbourne – tells Radio Today “I think the SENQ sports station can work in Brisbane because the city has such rich and diverse sporting interests.”
Just how sustainable though is a non-stop sport format in a city with just one AFL club and – for now – one NRL side?
“The challenge for the new station’s announcers is that where Sydney and Melbourne may have 10 or so teams to talk about in football season, the Brisbane market is dominated by the Broncos,” says Craddock.
“But it seems every day there is a fresh league controversy that the punters love chewing over.”
“The one sport which must be nailed down is rugby league. Interest wise, league has all other sports covered by a multiple of three or four, especially the Broncos.”
SEN WA breakfast host Tim Gossage also believes the new format is a goer, sharing his enthusiasm with Radio Today:
“How good? A 24 hour radio station for sport in a sport crazy state like Queensland. Exciting times.”
For the 4KQ audience though, it’s been a bitter pill to swallow.
As the long-standing breakfast team of Laurel Edwards, Gary Clare and Mark Hine signed off for the final time last week, listeners didn’t hold back on the station’s Facebook page:
“Here’s a news flash: Not everyone wants to listen to bloody football all day.”
“I like sport, but do I need to hear it all day? NO.”
“We’ve already got too much sport on radio.”
“Who wants to listen to boring sport commentators going on and on and on?”
“I am not remotely interested in listening to 24/7 sport talkback radio.”
“I like my sport, but 24/7 with strong AFL content is no-go zone for me.”
Non-stop sport clearly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, just as Sports Entertainment Network CEO Craig Hutchison admits he himself isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
But consider the SEN game plan.
In an interview with Media Week just a few months ago, Hutchison highlighted the importance of trying to connect differently with the audience:
“We don’t see ourselves as just radio stations. We see ourselves as a content experience, whether that be linear, radio, app, streaming, podcast, snackable video, longform video or social.”
He notes that in recent times, SEN has been successful in engaging with sporting communities as diverse as Darwin and Hobart.
Hutchison is excited to continue SEN’s expansion within the Queensland market. But not everyone shares his vision or his passion.
“Typical of southerners telling us ‘what we want,’ railed one Queenslander on the SENQ Facebook page. “What we don’t want is for you to destroy our radio station that has been operating for 75 years. You will lose every 4KQ listener who wants music, not sport”
The 4KQ acquisition has even been compared to Alan Bond’s infamous brewery takeover of the 80s.
When the XXXX sign on Brisbane’s Milton brewery was replaced with a Bond Corporation one, it was met with howls of protest from beer loving Queenslanders.
Parochial sport is at the heart of Hutchison’s business model.
“Queenslanders love their state and its teams and we are excited to play our role in amplifying that passion.”
Will that passion translate into listeners? We’re about to find out.