Content bosses gear up for battle in Perth in 2021
The Perth radio market in 2021 will look significantly different from that of last year, with many of the commercial networks shaking up their programs, lineups, and even station names.
It’s been a game of musical chairs over at Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), where Hit 92.9 became Triple M, and Mix 94.5 retained its name, but was folded into the Hit Network’s brand.
With that, the Hit 92.9 Breakfast show Xavier, Juelz & Pete was disbanded, and Triple M went on the hunt for a new early-morning show.
SCA’s chief content officer Dave Cameron retained Xavier Ellis, and also brought Perth Lord Mayor and former 6PR Breakfast co-host Basil Zempilas into the mix. They will be joined by The West Australian’s associate editor Jenna Clarke to complete the Triple M show.
Pete Curulli will move across to Mix 94.5, where he replaces SCA stalwart Dean ‘Clairsy’ Clairs.
A few weeks into its launch, Cameron told Radio Today Triple M had started well in Perth, which he dubbed a “rock town” ripe for the radio brand.
“There’s 13 Triple Ms around the state already. Perth’s a big FIFO [fly in, fly out] market. We know there’s a really strong appetite for rock. I mean, we saw that with the great success of 96 recently, and congratulations to Gary [Roberts] and his team as well. But we feel like there’s an opportunity for us as well, and hopefully we’ll get over there and have a bit of fun and shake up the market a bit,” he said.
The 96 to which Cameron referred is Australian Radio Network’s (ARN) 96 FM which, under the leadership of Roberts, climbed to the top of the Perth pile in Survey 7.
ARN’s chief content officer Duncan Campbell said the network runs its own race and dictates its own strategy, but he won’t dismiss the big changes coming to the Western Australian capital.
“I think the one that interests me the most is Perth, and the changes there, which will obviously disrupt that market quite significantly given the change of format for 92.9,” he told Radio Today late last year.
“So to sit here and say I don’t see them as any threat would be a bit naive, and a bit immature of me to do that, but we take every move the other networks make seriously, and we assess them, and if we need to counter-program against that, we do. And that’s always ongoing with how we operate.”
The raft of changes could play into Nova’s hand, according to chief programming and marketing officer, Paul Jackson, who noted everybody else’s format shift, and 96FM’s target demographic, gives the station a point of difference.
“I guess we’re the only radio station playing contemporary hit music now, and in some markets there are two or three stations doing very similar things,” he said. “Here we are in Perth, the only game in town. So when some of these major artists release new songs moving forward, people are going to gravitate to Nova to hear them.
“So we’ve got to come into the New Year with a lot of confidence in our chances of leading the Perth marketplace in the coming few years.”
He also noted the station’s ratings-topping Breakfast program Nathan, Nat & Shaun would likely benefit from all the changes.
The other station facing a different-looking 2021 is Nine Radio’s 6PR, which said goodbye to Zempilas and made changes across the network in various day parts.
Nine Radio’s head of content, Greg Byrnes, said the station will very much be in its own lane in 2021.
“We will be loud and proud with [our talk radio offering], particularly with local voices and local opinion,” he said. “I’m more than comfortable that they’re the right people to lead the charge.
“We will be really looking forward to seeing how things play out in Perth.”