Nine Radio predicts a ‘new generation’ of listeners will turn to talkback, ahead of next week’s ratings release

Former Editor & Content Director

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson says a new generation of listeners is tuning into the media company’s radio brands – including Sydney’s 2GB, Melbourne’s 3AW, and Brisbane’s 4BC – as it reimagines what talkback radio can look, and sound, like.

“You guys [the media] have written a lot about Nine Radio in the course of the last nine months, and the next nine will be no different,” he told media last week. “We have reimagined, and are reimagining Nine Radio for a new generation. We’re reimagining talk for a new generation. And we have, through both our talent, our product, our programming and our promotion, recognised generational change – from Deb Knight and Dee Dee Dunleavy, to Brooke [Corte], to, of course, Russel [Howcroft], and Ben [Fordham], our talent has evolved as we regenerate for a new generation of talk listeners.”

Asked by Radio Today if this reimagining would coincide with fewer controversial headlines, and therefore perhaps less attention and political influence, Stephenson stressed the ongoing power of local radio.

“What we have done is invest in what we think are the right hosts for today’s generation, and those hosts, whether it be Ben [Fordham], or Russel [Howcroft], or any of the other existing guys, will tell the stories of the day in the city which they operate,” he said in response to the controversy and influence question.

“The localised nature of radio makes it incredibly powerful to bring those stories to light. And that will never change.”

Last week, Nine pitched its upcoming content slate and data offering to marketers and media buyers from agencies.

Some of its key announcements included the company simplifying its radio buying by expanding its automated buying platform 9Galaxy to include radio, as well as opening up 9Voyager – a self-serve automated buying platform for small business owners – to radio from next year.

In addition, Nine Radio’s Money with Brooke Corte will become a Nine ‘Superbrand’ including expanding to television.

Since last week’s Upfronts event, Nine Radio has also revealed former Channel 10 personalities Joe Hildebrand and veteran weatherman Tim Bailey will be joining the on-air team.

The performance of some of Nine Radio’s new line-ups will be revealed in next week’s radio ratings, which have been paused over the past few months due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting the collection of data.

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Rob Sutton
21 Sep 2020 - 5:32 pm

The management at Nine know nothing about radio – be prepared for a big drop in ratings for 2GB.

The oldies don’t like It and the young ones ain’t coming over

The Wolf
21 Sep 2020 - 6:27 pm

LOL the Youngsters do not know where to find the AM button…..Just remember what happened to 2Day FM great Management Decision there as well.

Sub Editor
21 Sep 2020 - 7:55 pm

Brisbane’s 6PR?

    21 Sep 2020 - 8:28 pm

    Hello Sub Editor,

    You are, of course, correct. I have amended it to Brisbane’s 4BC, as it should be.

    Apologies for the oversight.

    Vivienne – Radio Today

21 Sep 2020 - 8:49 pm

Nobody under 50 is ever going to listen to an AM station. They either need to petition the government to allow all commercial AM stations to convert to FM or do something even more radical and actually PROMOTE the fact DAB+ actually exists! AM isn’t even listenable in metro areas anymore with all the electrical interference. As most listening is done in cars they need to be on FM or DAB+. Streaming in cars is dubious at best, especially for talk radio.

21 Sep 2020 - 9:22 pm

Way to go Nine. Why don’t you alienate ALL of your old listeners?
If you’re going for younger listeners you may be in for a rude shock.
I’m not an “oldie” as such. Generation X and find 2GB now unlistenable.
The words lightweight and fence sitting come to mind.

21 Sep 2020 - 10:34 pm

Nine seems to have no idea about radio. TV presenters need to look good and be a bland vanilla to appeal to a wide cross section of audience. Radio presenters don’t need looks, but they need a sharp edge which may turn some listeners off yet strongly appeal to 10 – 20% of the audience which will provide stong radio ratings.
I listened to the old radio pro George Moore filling in for Deb Knight (vanilla bland and boring) who was followed by Jim Wilson and the contrast could not have been more extreme. George was interesting and held interest throughout the shift and Jim was just a boring tv presenter with no humour or interest. Have listened in occasionally when my bluetooth failed and I couldn’t listen to tunein app and sorry to say television personalities don’t work on radio.

Chrys Lennard
21 Sep 2020 - 10:35 pm

I’m one of many people who have kissed 2gb good bye..Attracting a young left of centre audience to 2gb is your downfall and an insult to thousands of next regular listeners.
This once great radio station is being destroyed by the worse selection of inexperienced broadcaster’s who are boring…
Thank you 2SM is replacing you..

22 Sep 2020 - 2:54 am

2GB & 4BC stations would’ve Lost a major audience when they ‘reimagined talkback radio.’ Lets get real here. The audiences these stations had were the older generation. The Executives of Channel Nine just blew their massive audience out of the water. Their ‘new hosts’ if the truth was told are simply not attracting the audiences they once enjoyed. Now ‘talkback radio’ is Very Mediocre.

Young Talk Listener
22 Sep 2020 - 6:36 am

What a load of rubbish. You only need to listen to the stations to realise that their audience is not getting younger, they are still 65+.

The sound of the stations has also not changed! The imaging is still awful and dated.

The ratings will take a hit, but let’s face facts, 2GB killed off the competition, literally! 2UE was a good alternative and they made sure that it was no longer able to compete.

I feel that this press release is pre-emptive to cover their ass when the ratings aren’t great. They can now say “we are in a period of change, our audience is being rebuilt and that will take time”

If they really wanted a younger audience, they would do some major changes to programming and push for an FM licence.

22 Sep 2020 - 6:55 am

I don’t listen to 2gb after 20 years of listening to it I listen to Hadley of I remember

22 Sep 2020 - 9:15 am

The reach of Fairfax within Nine seems more of a move to drag it and 2gb to the left . Nine National News is not worth watching and the feed now to 2gb not much better … main problem CNN , CNBC etc and reporters giving opinion rather than fact … If you watch a c-span full press conference you watch Nine Coverage and it’s like you are on another planet . The Radio audience are more articulate and informed than Nine give them credit for …Hilderbrand ..are you kidding ?

Pete Johnson
22 Sep 2020 - 10:28 am

Apart from listening to Ben Fordham occasionally and Ray Hadley most mornings, our family has turned 2GB off and gone to FM. We are in our mid sixties . We call Deb Knight, Deb 131873 as she does no research whatsoever. Last week one of her shifts covered making paper air planes! Jim Wilson is no better. Both presenters are talented TV newsreaders not Radio presenters. Weekends are better but George and Paul are no longer there providing a light hearted show. With a virtual monopoly on talk back we just have to change our listening habits to FM music stations. Such a shame that both 2UE and now 2GB are not the entertainers they once were.

Older Typer Person
22 Sep 2020 - 10:57 am

All very interesting. As for Nine running radio stations, all I know is that they were entirely responsible for triggering one of the greatest ratings disasters in the history of Australian radio back in the mid -1980s when they got their television executives at GTV 9 in Melbourne to take over the running of the Packer ( later Bond) owned 3AK . And ,somewhat disturbingly, exactly the same argument was used as seems to be getting trotted out again i.e the need to attract a younger audience

AK had been one of Melbourne’s most consistently successful and profitable stations with an easy listening music format for well over ten years. It was rarely (if ever) out of the top three stations and was number one of several occasions. But, around 1985 the powers that be at Nine decided that AK’s demographic was too old and it needed to go after a younger audience. As I recall, AK’s very experienced management team of veteran major market, career radio men strongly resisted the move but Nine insisted on the change.

On New Year’s day (?), 1986 AK launched a new and utterly shambolic half baked contemporary music format. The audience reaction was immediate and devastating. The oldies started to hit the phones during the first track that was played out if the news. ….and they were far from happy. By the end of the first shift something like 200 phone complaints had been taken. No email, of course in those days. A few utterly incensed listeners arrived at the reception desk to vent their anger. The backlash continued for several weeks.There were days when the Letters to Editor page in the “Herald” newspaper contained nothing but hate mail about the change of format.

Again, from memory, 3AK had finished the year in 1985 with about 11 percent. In the first survey for ’86 they had dropped to around 3 percent…..and they sank even further after that. Rival station 3MP which had been floundering in a lowly position on the ratings ladder with a worn out classic hits (?) sound picked up the easy listening format, poached most of AK’s key presenters and went to the top .

Haven’t worked in the “wireless ” business for many years but I wouldn’t imagine that talk would be renewing its audience with younger listeners (?). Surely, the young dudes and chicks would consider talk radio to be their grandparents “scene”…along with the whole business of reading newspapers ? In fact, I would be surprised if anyone under 30 even listens to contemporary music stations (?)

Claude Ranauro
22 Sep 2020 - 1:00 pm

When Nine continues with the same style of ranters, who other than the rusted on will move over.

22 Sep 2020 - 1:06 pm

AM for younger audience…. sounds bizarre. Like saying, young people will buy CD or cassettes rather than streaming… I preferred listening” 2UE talking lifestyle ” had good potential for young audience…. but 2GB oh no!

Malcolm Hamerston
22 Sep 2020 - 4:05 pm

Warm, safe, family friendly news station.
I truly hope it sinks like a stone. It is now rubbish.

22 Sep 2020 - 4:20 pm

Who are you kidding Mr Malone et Al. What rubbish, just shows how much you all really know in the management ranks. A younger audience would not even know where to find AM on the dial. Besides, wouldn’t a younger audience be in a workplace sooner or later post Covid? 2GB lost me as a regular listener following the departure of their most experienced talk back hosts Steve Price, Chris Smith and Alan Jones on the daily roster. Thank heavens for small mercies that Michael McLaren and Ray Hadley are still there. Michael McLaren should have been given the morning gig instead of Ben Fordham. Another bad decision based on cronyism. What an appalling afternoon line up! No thanks

22 Sep 2020 - 11:12 pm

Nine dumbed down the 2 GB weekend show by sacking George Moore .

The Wolf
23 Sep 2020 - 9:01 am

The Gardening Show is now more entertaining then the Mid Week Shows ffs.

23 Sep 2020 - 9:17 am

A word of advice for 9radio.
Pay the money and employ the staff.
Bring back intelligent, informative and entertaining announcers, like George Moore, and your advertisers and profits will return.
Television personalities ard not good on radio.

23 Sep 2020 - 5:21 pm

I don’t like 2 g b anymore it is not a patch on what radio was. the announcers are bland, working under instructions and strict timetables– and we do not have a choice.

23 Sep 2020 - 8:50 pm

First lesson for 9 Radio: Your ratings for 4BC will never improve while you continue to pipe shows in from Sydney.
Second lesson for 9 Radio: Surely you can find better presenters for the only two local Brisbane shows. Breakfast is amateur hour and the Drive presenter is just boring. Want younger listeners? Well they don’t listen to AM radio. Perhaps you need an ad to educate there younger listeners on where to find the AM dial, just as some of the FMs did when they entered the market in 1980. Personally, I would be stumping up the cash for an FM licence and running a completely local station with producers and presenters who know what they’re doing. The only thing worth listening to 4BC is that new newsreader Chris Reiger.

christopher kearney
2 Oct 2020 - 7:45 am

You lost me 6 months ago. George and Paul gone!! Best show in radio. Ben Fordham, or Ben Boring. John Singleton must be laughing. I’m now a 2SM listener.

9 Dec 2020 - 10:01 pm

The 2gb morning show is boring, childish and repetitive. It is so hard to listen too in the morning now. To be honest its just total dribble with a radio announcer who has not done homework. Far too much emphasis on sport and always out to capture the latest drama. Ive been a 2gb member a very long time. I never got asked to do a survey this year. Looked at my emails – I got taken off in March. Hope the Alan Jones followers have nor been taken off the survey list

Mike Pearce
10 Oct 2021 - 10:36 pm

Please bring back george and paul .
U can’t ?
Can 2SM make the boys an offer they can’t refuse
I can sponsor their show season one !
Sponsors will line up….
Their replacement is a shocker !
2 G B is rubbish
And the station management and sponsors know it as they scramble to “find” listeners …..u guys are kidding .
Amateurs !

Sue soz
12 Oct 2021 - 6:13 am

Bring back George and Paul 2gb yes I agree 2sm should snap them up that’s where I spend most of my time


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