“People who love him will listen and people who hate him will listen”


“What’s missing right now, I think, in the Melbourne market – and this might be an unpopular opinion – there is no dominant funny person on Melbourne radio at the moment.”

That’s according to former SCA content boss Craig Bruce, who delivers this assessment in the second instalment of the Game Changers: Melbourne Radio Wars podcast.

Ahead of Kyle & Jackie O’s arrival on the Melbourne airwaves this month, Bruce and experienced programmer Irene Hulme further dissect the traditional Melbourne-Sydney rivalry, in all its forms.

Hulme notes that historically, Melbourne radio has relied heavily on having a comedian in the mix.

“A comedic aspect is really important,” she says. “The Melbourne Comedy Festival is a big event.”

And it’s here that Bruce identifies a potential opening for the Sydney duo among the current Melbourne Breakfast radio offerings.

Nick (Cody) is on Fox, but he’s not the main player,” says Bruce.

Christian (O’Connell) is obviously really funny but I think he has so many other qualities – it’s not the only thing he does.”

Bruce says this gives the Sydney duo an advantage.

“I think if you were to listen to the show for the first time, you would be surprised at how funny it is,” says Bruce.

Whether it’s one upmanship about the weather or the coffee, the Melbourne-Sydney rivalry is nothing new.

But just how wide is the chasm between the two cities?

And from a Breakfast radio point of view, does it even matter?

In a recent Radio Today interview, ARN Chief Content Officer Duncan Campbell (pictured above) said the inter-city rivalry is not what it used to be, and that Kyle & Jackie O have universal appeal.

Hulme says “I agree with Duncan that good content is good content, so the notion around it being universal is fair.”

But Hulme notes there are still some fundamental differences between Melbourne and Sydney.

“From a radio point of view, it’s a far more competitive market in Melbourne. Any of four out of the six FM stations could be #1, so it’s a level playing field.”

“In Sydney, it’s not.”

NRL already gets mentioned from time to time on Kyle & Jackie O, and – out of respect for the Melbourne audience – Hulme expects AFL will get a guernsey as well.

Bruce thinks not.

“If it were up to Kyle, he wouldn’t do either,” Bruce says. “He doesn’t like sport. Not interested.”

“I think they’re going to have a content editor based in Melbourne, for Melbourne stories when they break.”

“So I know that is coming. I don’t know who that will be, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to have someone in-studio for anything they need to react to, that’s happening in Melbourne.”

Bruce and Hulme discussed the perception that  Melbourne is a parochial city that values local content, whereas Sydneysiders have a more global outlook.

Hulme says “I wonder whether in Sydney, the notion around celebrity and money is kind of lauded and admired. I wonder whether Melbourne is different in that regard.”

Bruce says “If Melbourne was a person, (it would be) coffee conversation, smart, fashionable.”

“If Sydney was a person (it would be) brash, flashy, superficial, look at me … which kind of describes Kyle and Jack to a T.”

Bruce also notes that localism is not something that is imbued into their product.

“They’re just doing their thing. And it’s all about them, really.”

Kyle, he says, is genuinely funny and only getting funnier … and Hulme agrees.

Whilst their Breakfast radio rivals have already long burst out of the blocks, when you think about it, Kyle & Jackie O have had the biggest head start of all.

With an on-air dynamic that’s been 23 years in the making, Bruce says it’s obviously going to be next level.

Kyle and Jackie have been doing this stuff a long time. They’re comfortable with one another. They know each other well enough to be vulnerable.

Plus – Melbourne or no Melbourne – they’ve made it clear they have no intention of changing a thing.

So, what is the starting point for launching a brand into a new market?

Consumer psychologist, Thinkerbell founder and Episode 2 guest Adam Ferrier (pictured above) says “I’d be looking at what I stand for and trying to replicate my success.”

“And I’d be assuming that people are more similar than they are different.”

As for their on-air strategy, Ferrier says Kyle & Jackie O should simply keep on doing what they’re already doing.

“I don’t think there’s anything particularly ‘Sydney’ about them. I think they’re just a couple of larrikin bogans who can do their thing all over Australia.”

As much as we might like to argue otherwise, Ferrier thinks that Melbourne and Sydney are quite similar, pointing to the success of other syndicated shows in Australia.

Of Kyle & Jackie O, he says “I think they’ll be successful from the get-go.”

What about the notion of hating someone, yet at the same time feeling compelled to listen to them?

Bruce suggests that if you listen to him long enough, you’ll come to realise there’s a self-deprecating warmth about Kyle.

He’s not what the headlines suggest, says Bruce. There’s more to the man than ranting and raving on a day-to-day basis.

Ferrier says society is becoming so homogenised, we’re looking for someone to vent on our behalf.

People like Kyle, he believes, make us feel better because they’re pushing boundaries we might not be able to push ourselves.

Ferrier references a quote from Batman, where he turns to Robin and says “Remember Robin. The brighter the picture, the darker the negative.”

People like Kyle are expressing the unexpressed.

Ferrier says people who love Kyle will listen, and people who hate him will listen.

As Bruce says, there’s a lot to be said for having that sense of freedom on air.

Of being one’s true self.

Of not giving a f**k.

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Jason, Andrew Toppin from Mubarek Victoria
15 Apr 2024 - 7:09 am

Melbourne listeners are different than Sydney listeners. We will not listen to Kyle because we think we have better radio other than him. People have been defecting to Nova 100 from kiss due to what Duncan Cameron did by getting rid of Jason and Lauren and replacing them with people that are not worth listening to in Melbourne. People in Melbourne will be loyal to Jason and Lauren

15 Apr 2024 - 7:14 am

Is Craig the SCA CD who let Kyle and Jackie go from 2DAYFM to KIISSFM ?
He’s obviously a ” fan “

Rock 40 Countdown
15 Apr 2024 - 12:58 pm

Who was the program director that lost the show to Duncan Campbell? Can anyone just let me know?

Jon Lores
15 Apr 2024 - 1:40 pm

I believe it’s called “The Howard Stern Effect”.

15 Apr 2024 - 9:34 pm

Kyle & Jackie O show is like Jerry Springer show of the radio…. They will play rivalry card between Melbourne and Sydney, plus probably they will throw some big cash prizes…. They just think will be easy to buy Melbourne listeners…

16 Apr 2024 - 10:21 am

It will be quite the uphill battle for them, and the reason why execs don’t realise this is because they are from Sydney. The Sydney V Melbourne rivalry doesn’t exist in Sydney because people in Sydney don’t care. I tell you who does care, very much, is everyone in Melbourne.

Sam Fan
16 Apr 2024 - 12:31 pm

Hey Sam – I’m fairly sure it’s on the record that decision was at a CEO / Board level, but cute you thought it was a content decision.


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