Content bosses gear up for battle in Perth in 2021

Former Editor & Content Director

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.”

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11 Jan 2021 - 1:17 pm

Hopefully Mix 94.5 will sort out their playlist. It’s a total mess at the moment. 80s songs at the top of each hour, plus 5 or so 80s songs an hour!? Really? Triple M and 96FM already have 80s covered. How about Mix drops 80s and plays more 90s and 2000s music, which Nova doesn’t touch? They could throw in new music as well, but just don’t run as “hot” as Nova.

A market to watch
11 Jan 2021 - 4:04 pm

With the switch in music on Mix and the rebrand to Triple M, I wonder how many listeners South of the river will move to 97.3 Coast FM which runs a CHR format or 91.7 The Wave which plays a lot of 80s and 90s.

11 Jan 2021 - 5:01 pm

That being said (above, about the music), the imaging sounds amazing on Mix at the moment with the new Hit jingle package. And I understand they are trying to find a balance between attracting old 92.9 listeners and not trying to pee-off their existing audience, but if they try to be something to everyone, they’ll end up like 96FM did when ARN first took over.

There is a big fat hole in the Perth market that’s not being served and they could easily fill it, and also align better with other stations in the Hit network. How about we get some Mix 94.5 Black Thunders on the streets instead of the Road Runners?

11 Jan 2021 - 5:54 pm

What a bonanza for Nova in Perth they will have an easy ride this year, 14-15% easy number one.

Paul Hanrahan
11 Jan 2021 - 8:28 pm

” there’s a really strong appetite for rick” is that right!

    12 Jan 2021 - 11:30 am

    What an excellent typo from me to kick off the new year.

    Thanks for flagging,
    Vivienne – Radio Today

12 Jan 2021 - 1:28 am

Look, good on Nova for keeping at the CHR format it’s definitely working for them but it’s really not where the future is. As the technically savvy generations keep moving forward, the ‘contempory’ is so fast changing that stations can’t keep up and streaming becomes key. AC/Rock are where the future of radio is. Kudos to 96 for seeing it before MMM did, now just shake that KIIS branding and you’re golden

12 Jan 2021 - 10:47 am

@B – 96 would be golden if they were a Pure Gold station, not a KIIS station.

Steve C
13 Jan 2021 - 11:52 pm

Love the comment from Duncan. He has zero clue on Perth after he messed up a station in 2015 rating 2 to making it a 6 in the market within 5 months.
My 5 year old son can build a better breakfast show than what he does.


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