Ratings Reactions: Paul Jackson on smoothfm & why CHR faces an uphill battle
In the wake of the second survey of 2019, Radio Today chats with the content directors of the major networks to get their take.
It was a book with something for everyone, with all three of SCA, ARN and Nova claiming victories in various areas around the country.
For the latter, smoothfm owning first place on the FM band in both Sydney and Melbourne was the big takeaway.
Group PD Paul Jackson tells Radio Today that consistency is the smooth network’s biggest asset.
“The trend with smooth has been going for a few years,” he says.
“If it hasn’t been #1 it’s been #2, and with Bogart & Glenn going #2 now. When you listen across all the day parts it’s extremely consistent with all the day parts.
“It’s more than a trend now. The performance is well established.”
Byron also went to #1 on Drive for smooth in Sydney, and although Jackson would like to see Kate, Tim & Marty performing better share-wise in that market, he accepts that to some extent it comes down to the music cycle.
“Kate, Tim & Marty are a show that has won so many accolades over the years and are the #1 Networked Drive show nationally,” he says.
“We’re happy with the quality and the output of Kate Tim and Marty. Often when it’s not been Kate, Tim & Marty at #1 it’s been Byron on smooth.
“We might be in a musical cycle where the current hits aren’t as powerful and at smooth we are grasping that opportunity.”
A preference for adult contemporary stations and the state of the music cycle seems to be well reflected in Melbourne as well.
CHR station Fox FM dropped from the #1 spot, with smoothfm going top and ARN’s Gold104.3 to #2.
“When you look through the lens of share, older end listeners are listening to the radio for longer periods of time than younger people listening to contemporary hits,” explains Jackson.
“The share battle is tight so you have to have personalities in there as well [for CHR].
“I do think that for the audience at a station like smooth and gold, that if you are turning that radio station on in the morning, it’s probably staying on all day.
Though smooth has its music direction to thank for a large portion of its success, Jackson makes a point to mention the #1 result for Mike & Jen.
“This is Mike’s 40th year in radio. I phoned him and he was thrilled to bits about the result. Mike & Jen have a lovely chemistry and conversation, it’s a nice easy listen.
“The music supports it really well and it’s different to everything else in the marketplace.”
With the audience in Sydney and Melbourne seemingly leaning towards the AC music format, Jackson saw an opportunity to shake up Mornings in both markets.
Matt Tilley started a new show on Nova 100 last week, with Kent ‘Smallzy’ Small doing the same on Nova 96.9.
“In this day and age it’s very important for us to keep the audience engaged all day, to make it exciting and entertaining,” he says.
“I thought that Matt Tilley being available in the marketplace but not being on the radio was a missed opportunity.
“In Sydney, Smallzy is a Sydney guy. We had him on at the weekends in Sydney for a lot of last year and he sounded terrific.”
It’s not just the AC format and other radio stations that Jackson is contending with, but the rise of streaming services, so a hybrid talk-music Mornings show was designed to offer a point of difference.
“The hybrid feeling of a Morning show with a little bit more chat, conversation and relatability than what we’ve been used to is where we needed to head,” he says.
“In a world where competition is Spotify and music playlists, we need to keep offering the audience something.
“We’re not diminishing the amount of music but there’s a balance to be struck There’s more on offer to keep people engaged with the radio stations for longer.
Nova 106.9 in Brisbane continues to be a juggernaut for the network, but despite holding market-leading positions in key dayparts and overall, it’s lagging share-wise on Workdays.
Jackson isn’t concerned however, citing stronger competition in that daypart.
“We’ve had a strong start to the year, we are #1 with cume and share.
“I think there’s so much competition, a lot of strong radio offerings. It’s a bit of a push-pull thing. Overall we’re very happy.
“For Jay and the Brisbane team, we’re very proud of those numbers.”
It continues to be one of the tightest markets in the country, and Jackson isn’t writing any of his competitors off.
“‘In any individual book you might see a station take an individual fall, or going up a lot. It’s about looking at three or four books to try and identify trends,” he says.
“97.3 has always been a very strong radio station. It’s in a marketplace where, at Breakfast time, they’re no longer a heritage Breakfast show.
“It’s really tough for them to break through that, but it’s a great radio station.”
Adelaide is one of the few Aussie metro markets with a clear metro leader in Mix 102.3 (#1 overall and in Breakfast), so for the other networks, it’s about disrupting habitual listening.
It’s for that reason that Jackson is particularly pleased with the performance of Nova Adelaide Brekky show Dylan & Hayley.
The show rates second behind heritage Mix show Jodie & Soda on the FM band.
“With Bec and Cosi [on Hit107] starting this year with a lot of marketing, they’d probably have expected to do better and get past us.
“Dylan and Hayley is an easy listen, a classy show and they’re both very funny people. The show is where we want to be.”
When it comes to Perth, Nova 93.7 continues to perform, and this book is second to Mix 94.5 both on Breakfast and overall.
“Nathan, Nat & Shaun are world class broadcasters,” says Jackson.
“They have consistently delivered for the last seven or eight years I’ve worked with them, and before that as well.
“Fantastic numbers and a brilliant radio station.”
Catch up on all the #1s, ratings graphs and talking points from GfK’s second survey of 2019 here.