Radio Today Podcast: Gary Roberts on how 96FM got back to #1, and if SCA’s plans are making him nervous

Former Editor & Content Director

Gary Roberts was on his way to the pub to celebrate 96FM’s return to the #1 position in Perth, when the Radio Today Tonight team called to chat about how he returned the station to its former glory.

Roberts, the MD of the Perth station, conceded a lot of mistakes had been made throughout 96FM’s history, but it was now back to being the station it should have been all along.

“Bad decisions get made. Changes happen. And then it comes back to rebuild great radio stations. And normally it takes a very long time, and it also takes people at the top end to acknowledge what needs to be done and be passionate about the change,” he said.

ARN’s content director, Duncan Campbell, said Roberts, who has taken multiple stations across multiple networks to number one over the past four decades, should be admired for his efforts.

“The 96FM story is just a really great story from a personality point of view in terms of Gary Roberts, and his achievement over there is just a credit to him and his passion for radio,” Campbell told Radio Today after the results. “He will want to give credit to the station obviously and talk about the station, but I think it’s a fabulous story from a radio point of view and a legacy point of view, so I’m chuffed for him and chuffed obviously for the station as well.”

And, true to Campbell’s prediction, Roberts then said it’s all about the team, and steering them in the right direction.

“Having the right people, right place, right time is just essential to building an outcome. And one person can’t do it, so it’s pointless saying ‘Yea, I’m a hero and I’m a genius and I did it all’. That’s bullshit. It’s actually simply about the right people,” he told Radio Today Tonight.

“I should pint out that no-one has been sacked here in this period of time, but it was a totally different focus that we’ve put in place and it was a reflection of the research, and the opportunity in the market was pretty bloody obvious to be quite honest. That’s what we’ve done, but, again, we’ve now got the right people in the sales team, we’ve got the right people in the content team, and it’s just pumping along nicely. And we’ll stay focused, we won’t get distracted and carried away with ourselves.”

In the podcast, Roberts also covers those persistent rumours about what rival SCA is up to in the West with its Mix and Hit brands.

“I’d be delighted if they made changes,” he revealed. “Whatever they do, and yes we’re hearing all the rumours and the speculation is rampant, but at the end of the day 96 is now re-established. We know what we’re doing. We’re very focused and we’ll continue to deliver.”

This episode of Radio Today Tonight also covers all the slips, spills and spin from Survey 7 across the country.

  • How SCA’s Hit & Triple M, ARN’s KIIS & Pure Gold and NOVA’s smoothfm & Nova networks are tracking on the FM leaderboard (02:25)
  • Why Nine Radio is recording some of the best results its stations have seen in decades, including 4BC, 3AW and 6PR (10:35)
  • Jake & Viv chat to 96FM Perth boss Gary Roberts who was on his way to the pub to celebrate today’s #1 result (20:15)

Radio Today Tonight will come to you each Thursday, mixing the biggest news of the week, along with a discussion of all the personalities, politics and pressures involved in the audio industry.

It will be jointly hosted by Radio Today editor Vivienne Kelly and publisher Jake Challenor.

Subscribe to Radio Today Tonight now on Apple, SpotifyGoogle or iHeartRadio.

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7 Nov 2020 - 10:20 am

Gary Robert’s did in one year what Duncan and Ciaran couldn’t do in six years. No doubt ARN problems in Brisbane and Melbourne keeps them busy. So much for the wise old men from the east. May need to get Gary to Sydney soon as WS is on the ropes.


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