Gemma Fordham bound to “bold” long-term play for 2DayFM in 2020

Former Assistant Editor

A year of up and down metro results for Gemma Fordham and the Hit Network ended as it started.

Survey 7 delivered mixed results for Hit, with a solid book in Brisbane sitting alongside a flat return in Adelaide, while a promising upturn in Perth was offset by a dip in Melbourne.

Fordham is under no illusions that 2DayFM Sydney remains her biggest challenge, which fell to a 3.9% share of listening (-0.6) and holds a 2.6% share on Breakfast (+0.1).

“It goes without saying that our continued focus is on Sydney,” the Hit Network boss tells Radio Today.

“We made a strategy adjustment there, we have a long-term strategy in play. The rest of the country is performing very well. Our Drive shows are performing exceptionally well too.”

It’s a strategy that’s seen the station bring in Jamie Angel for a More Music Breakfast format, making him 2Day’s umpteenth show since the defection of Kyle & Jackie O to KIIS FM in 2014.

2DayFM Breakfast’s Jamie Angel, who celebrates 30 years with SCA this week.

In no uncertain terms, Fordham re-affirms that she is committed to the same strategy for 2020. 

“We recognised that we needed to cleanse the slot. We’re certainly proud of the fact that we’ve made some bold decisions… we’ve not lost fact of the sight that we are in this for the long-term.”

“Everyone internally knows what the strategy is, our board knows. We’re committed to what we’ve decided on for 2Day.”

As Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Grant Blackley outlined Radio Today recently, SCA adopted a renewed focus on music in 2019.

Part of that focus saw the network appoint heads of music for the Hit Network and Triple M Network in Irene Hulme and Mickey Maher.

But another part saw a shift in how SCA content heads, Fordham, and, Mike ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick, functioned within the business.

Fordham says the changes have allowed for herself and Hulme to really focus in on the different stations within the Hit Network and program better music for each market.

“People often forget that we’re a much bigger company than the other radio networks,” she explains. “We have a lot more market nuance to consider, so we don’t just have the five metros.”

Head of music for the Hit Network, Irene Hulme

Pointing to the 42 Hit Network stations nation-wide, Fordham emphasises that the scale of the company has previously meant that not enough time has been spent focussing on the music and content for each Breakfast show in Australia.

“Suddenly, myself and Fitzy were given this remit where we went from five to 40 stations [to oversee]. It’s very hard to give the stations the attention they deserve if your workload remains the same.

“Having these really streamlined approaches means that people can really focus on specific areas. 

“I know it’s been a different approach to some of what we’ve done before… but innovation and being willing to try different things is very important to us as a business.”

We may be seeing the new strategies at SCA bearing fruit, with some hopeful results in some markets this book.

Fox FM Melbourne remains the #2 FM station in Melbourne, despite slipping further behind Gold FM this book.

Hit Adelaide continues to grow incrementally and Fordham says the content that Breakfast show Bec & Cosi are doing “really resonates” with the people of Adelaide.

But the Hit Network boss singles out Hit105 Brisbane’s Stav, Abby & Matt for their consistency, which this book delivers them equal top spot in Brisbane on 11.1% with Nova 106.9 Breakfast.

“They consistently deliver content that creates talk. Talkability really delivers in a market like Brisbane, and they’ve done that in this book and throughout most of this year,” she explains.

Hit105 Brisbane’s Matt, Stav & Abby

And of course there’s Perth, where Hit92.9 appears to be finally clawing its way back into the contenders. The station recorded an upward swing into double digits on 10.7% (+1.4) this book.

“We’ve been back of the pack in Perth for a long time. Not long ago we were sitting around the 6s. It’s a testament to the fact that it takes time and consistency to bring a brand around.

“That’s certainly what’s happened in Perth over the last three years.”

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13 Nov 2019 - 6:59 am

Did Gemma just throw Irene Hulme under the bus ? Sounds like it giving her ‘‘credit” for 2Day.

13 Nov 2019 - 8:19 am

Hit Brissie brekky was doing double figures before Gemma’s appointment.

96FM Fan
13 Nov 2019 - 11:37 am

Hit 929 was double digits for all of 2018 and breakfast was rating 10s and 11s just 9 months ago but is now coming 6th.

96FM is the station that’s done the turn around and back into contention.
Master stroke by Duncan. These SCA executives sure know how to spin a story when they need one and it seems Hit is pretty desperate to claim anything at the moment.

13 Nov 2019 - 1:21 pm

Veteran jock, Jamie Angel hope he survives this.

Scott Thomson
13 Nov 2019 - 1:37 pm

What does Emma seriously think the breakfast show on 2DAY FM will rate? It is likely to go below 2% in the next survey.

Is the strategy at least the current breakfast show is not costing any money? Maybe they could get a robot to do the announcing?

13 Nov 2019 - 4:36 pm

Fox is actually now #3 FM in Melbourne… it dropped behind smooth

40 Cent
13 Nov 2019 - 6:01 pm

More Music at Breakfast will only work if the MUSIC is in a solid position.

2Day are so far off the money and they are currently appealing to a small portion of Sydney who happen to like both Belinda Carlisle and RnB.

You don’t need to look far to hear how a well programmed AC variety station does it. Heck, just tune to 104.5 in Sydney and you’ll hear that from the Central Coast. Cairns Star – Killing it, Mix Adelaide – Have done so well for a long time.

Why are they so persistent with this format?

Neil Dee
13 Nov 2019 - 10:04 pm

That’s great, but what about the elephant in the room 2Day?

Let’s face it, the More Music format works well, like it did in the 2SM / 3XY days with good people to support it.

Now in 2019 the audience wants the music without the chatter, the current 2 Day format is great, the music is not supporting the format.

14 Nov 2019 - 12:12 am

ARN’s Digital station The Edge has as many listeners as 2Dayfm in Sydney… almost. SCA should steal their format.

14 Nov 2019 - 2:29 am

As long as you “are committed to this plan” just like you were “committed” to the 18 breakfast show you’ve churned through. I guess now the MBA is done we could put aside some time to “commit” to something else.

Happy Worker Bee
14 Nov 2019 - 10:27 am

Controversial opinion – Gemma is a great boss and is great to work for, you wont find a happier content team around the country.

Jessica Jones
14 Nov 2019 - 11:53 pm

I have never felt compelled to write a comment on this site. I occasionally read the articles and the comments and to be honest, I often feel very disheartened.

We work in one of the best industries in the world. Yeah it’s tough, there’s many challenges and at times politics, but we truly do something special each day and it’s an honor that every day people listen to our stations and shows.

Most of you work in the industry or have worked in the industry, and you can relate to the ups and downs of ratings, brands and strategies. Yet instead of understanding and supporting each other, we feel the need to tear each other down under the guise of being a keyboard warrior.

Gemma is an incredible leader & programmer, so is Fitzy, Mickey, Irene (yes, I work for SCA), and whoever else you want to throw under a bus. Leaders don’t always get it right, no one does, we are human, but everyone does their best day in and day out, and sometimes you win some and sometimes you don’t. It’s radio, so let’s cut each other some slack…. like the good ole saying says… we aren’t saving lives.

The Purple Man
16 Nov 2019 - 1:33 pm

Jessica Jones – nice pitch but explain why if it’s ok for leaders to get it wrong, why does the same convenience get extended to on air talent who get mercilessly turfed when said leaders decisions don’t pan out? Enough is enough.

18 Nov 2019 - 10:50 am

@Jessica Jones.

I used to work at SCA and back in pre-2014 when the place was number one. The “brains trust” there would be doing the exact same thing to the competition that everyone is doing to 2Day now…..ripping into them.

It’s like another good ol saying, “don’t dish it out if you can’t take it yourself”.

19 Nov 2019 - 12:22 pm

2day fm its like Hit Oldskool…. its time for re -branding. Just be a Hit Sydney

T. Bell
28 Nov 2019 - 9:55 am

Agree with the purple man. Times have certainly changed in radio , the old school would give you about three surveys as a manager if you were lucky and then you would be out if the ratings were bad. I’ve noticed a much higher turnover of on air talent but very little in management and increasingly more and more layers of managers.

If you hired a talent they were expected to perform, if not that was a reflection of your management skills or lack of them as well. Time to start owning responsibility for the position.


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