Melbourne’s Breakfast radio wars: Who’s winning?


It’s had more plot twists, sex scenes and dirty talk than a Jackie Collins bestseller.

We’re now more than a month into the battle for Breakfast supremacy on Melbourne FM radio, with Kyle & Jackie O having lobbed the first grenade on April 29.

But who’s winning the war?

Just a day out from GfK Metro Survey 3, members of the team at Game Changers Radio: The Melbourne Radio Wars podcast have offered their own 30 day review.

Having narrowed it down to a battle among KIIS, Fox and Nova, here’s their take on how each brekky team’s been tracking:

 Fifi, Fev & Nick:

“The Fox are the hunted and the stakes are high.”

Speaking from her own previous experience, content and music strategist Irene Hulme says programming a radio station in ‘defence mode’ is a horrible business.

But so far, she believes Fox has been effective in protecting its turf from the onslaught of K & J.

“Strategically, I think they’ve played it really well,” she says.

Fox’s cash contests and the Secret Sound get the tick of approval, as does Fox to the Rescue.

“It’s the element that reinforces the community aspect of the brand,” says Hulme.

From a marketing perspective, Hulme says Fox strikes the right tone, and the Melbourne’s Biggest Party promotion certainly ticks the ‘local’ box.

“They needed a campaign that reinforced the show is exciting and fun and surprising. I think they did that really well.”

Hulme’s been hearing more of Brendan Fevola on air lately. That, she says, is a good thing, based on her own view that Fev is key to Fox’s defence against K & J.

“In a Melbourne battle of Kyle and Fev, I think Fev would win,” says Hulme.

She references Fev’s classic response to K & J’s x-rated arrival on the Melbourne airwaves:

“We do have sex. We just don’t talk about it.”

She also suggests Nick Cody could be utilised more, noting that he’s been commanding great attention of late on Network 10’s The Project.

For Fox to maintain its position as market leader, Hulme’s 60 day plan would include a review of the show’s content priorities.

“Right now, I would focus on funny, feel good and a show I can relate to … well defined, individual roles, both on and off the air.”

Kyle & Jackie O:

“They have done everything they needed to do on the air.”

Creative development coach Wade Kingsley believes the team at KIIS does ‘stationality’ well, from the handover between Kyle & Jackie O and Gordie Waters, to the flow through with Will & Woody.

And while the K & J bus (pictured above) has been front and centre, Kingsley questions whether it’s the most effective marketing tool.

“I think that what they’ve done overall, in terms of the bus, in terms of the presence, has been good,” says Kingsley. “Not amazing, but good.”

Quite simply, he believes the show can win on being funny, and suggests building a TV campaign around that.

Kingsley says K & J’s arrival on the scene has been good for radio in general.

“I think having radio talked about in Melbourne amongst ad agencies is pretty critical, having it talked about in the Herald Sun is pretty critical, and that’ll continue when some results come out.”

“They had to enter the market, they had to not be causing some massive controversy that gets all of Melbourne running against them within the first couple of weeks. It was play attack, but don’t go too far.”

“I think overall, if I was marking them on their first month, basically, what they had to do, they’ve done really well.”

Jase & Lauren:

“Everything they do should sound like nothing you would hear on Fox or KIIS.”

Former SCA content boss Craig Bruce thinks the Nova brekky show has probably been the most consistent of the three.

In his analysis, he says “Jase and Lauren have been really on point since April 29, doing their thing, playing their game … which I think is the right way for them to go.”

From a technical aspect, Bruce describes Jase Hawkins as the ultimate ‘metronome.’

“He is the Charlie Watts of FM radio. He keeps time better than almost anyone.”

“This allows Lauren to play loose … which she does really well. If she’s just in the moment, and reacting to everything that’s happening around her, she’s really effective.”

“Same with Clint, as well … Jase allows that to happen, which is really important.”

Bruce says all three can tell a good story, and whilst they are the smallest of the three shows in question, they have a natural chemistry and team dynamic they can build from.

What’s needed, he believes, is the personnel to set them on the right path:

His 60 day plan? “Find people that can take this station to the next level.”

As to who’ll claim the mantle Melbourne’s #1 FM Breakfast show tomorrow, here’s how the Game Changers team sees Survey 3 playing out:

Irene: “In terms of rank, Christian O’Connell will be #1, followed by Fifi, Fev & Nick, then Jase & Lauren, then Kyle & Jackie O” (bearing in mind K & J were only on air for three weeks of the ten week survey period).

Wade: “I don’t mean to pick a winner or a loser here, but I think Fox is just in such a strong position, it’s really hard to see them losing that, just on the maths of how surveys are done. So I’d have them #1. I think Christian #2, Nova #3.”

Craig: “The significant number will be Jase & Lauren – they get their first full book … I don’t think we’ll see much with Kyle & Jack that we can put any kind of credence in.”

“Fox and Christian will both be doing just fine. I think their cume figures will just hold up in that respect.”

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For what it’s worth
3 Jun 2024 - 12:37 pm

Too early to tell but overall, Fox at number 1 , both Gold and Nova will be down in breakfast ( loosing share to Kiss) the others like MMM , Smooth might look even better.

Jason from Mooroolbark Victoria
3 Jun 2024 - 5:25 pm

There is one difference between Nova 100 kiss and fox and that Is five people Jason Hawkins Lauren Phillips Clinton Sranaway With the edition of Jason Toppin and Matt Saward Working behind the Zen adding listeners to Nova 100.

The Music Man
4 Jun 2024 - 11:27 am

Could help but laugh when Wade said “having it talked about in the Herald Sun is pretty critical”.

The H-Sun is irrelevant now in Melbourne. Less and less people were reading it, and then when the pandemic hit and it went feral in its coverage, Victorians turned on it.

Proof is in the pudding. Years ago after the morning peak, you’d find heaps on newspapers (mainly H-Sun, with a rare The Age) left of the train from people who read it last – now, you’d be lucky to find one. You barely see them in McDonalds (for breakfast) anymore.

If someone, say on a footy forum, say what did the H-Sun say (about a certain club or player), it’s followed by requests for someone to post the contents, because hardly anyone is paying for it to see being the paywall.

All a radio piece in the H-Sun now does is a bit of gossip and excitement for those of us in (or formerly in) the industry. Joe public wouldn’t care less.


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