The big changes to look out for in today’s historic radio ratings

Former Editor & Content Director

Image credit: Will Francis

Hypothesising about what Tuesday’s historic radio ratings release will look like is in full swing.

Lots of attention will be on Sydney’s Breakfast market, with Ben Fordham’s move into the slot previously occupied by Alan Jones on 2GB yet to face a ratings release.

Fordham started in the market-leading position in June, after Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and GfK had announced the ratings would be paused until September. The industry body cited COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns as the reason it could not adequately and safely collect the necessary listener data.

Various outlets have speculated that either the ABC’s Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck, or Australian Radio Network’s KIIS 106.5 with Kyle Sandilands and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson could take the lead in terms of audience share if Fordham drops down.

Could Wendy Harmer (pictured) be on her way to the top of the charts? 

In the most recent survey, released back in April, 2GB had a 17.9% share in Breakfast, ahead of ABC’s 10.9% and KIIS’ 10.2%.

The survey being released tomorrow measures the period of July 26 to September 19.

This means another recent talent shake-up – Joel Creasey replacing Marty Sheargold on Nova’s syndicated drive show – won’t be reflected in tomorrow’s data.

Sheargold finished up on September 11, and Creasey joined fellow hosts Tim Blackwell and Kate Ritchie the following Monday on September 14.

Down in Melbourne – which for this survey will be fully reliant on e-diaries, rather than paper diaries – attention will be on 3AW Breakfast. Adman Russel Howcroft left his creative role at consultancy PwC to join the Nine Radio station in August. He replaced John Burns to sit alongside Ross Stevenson.

Russel Howcroft (pictured) joined 3AW during this ratings period 

There will also likely be attention on Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) 2DayFM Breakfast show in Sydney, with speculation mounting that the broadcaster is gearing up to return to a high-profile talent-driven format.

The ongoing performance of Nova 91.9’s Breakfast duo Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton will also be of interest, as the show has thus far only faced two surveys since moving to commercial radio from the ABC’s triple j.

This survey is being treated as somewhat of a reset, as there is no cross-over in measurement periods from Survey 2 which tracked listening behaviour from Feb 9 to Feb 29, and March 1 to April 4. It is also a fresh sample of respondents, CEO of CRA Joan Warner confirmed.

Despite the changes and challenges, Warner is confident the industry body and GfK already have an accurate picture of the market. Its Pulse surveys throughout the pandemic were used to determine if consumers were still listening as well as bolster the confidence of would-be advertisers, she said.

She’s not sure, however, which shows might suffer, or benefit, from changed listener behaviour.

“I don’t know,” she said when asked about fluctuations driven by the gap between surveys. “It will be interesting from that perspective to see if people being at home have continued to listen to their favourite stations – which we have a sense check that that will be the case – but maybe listening more to them, more at home than at work, obviously.”

She also hopes the ratings release acts as a reset for brands and advertisers who have been hesitant to part with what little money they may have.

“It’s going to be an interesting survey, particularly, perversely, given that listening went up during COVID [and] advertising revenue went down, which is very frustrating when you see that. So it will be interesting to see the response of the market as well to the first official survey after that gap.”

Joan Warner (pictured) wants more of marketers’ budgets to be allocated to radio

The response, she hopes, is for more marketing budgets to be allocated to radio, urging those in control of spending to put their money where their mouth is.

“I think it will be good to have survey 6 come out and hopefully, definitely, prove that radio listening is still the same. It’s just as strong, maybe stronger, than it was before,” she said.

For more of the inside scoop about what to expect from the upcoming ratings, as well as what’s next for 2DayFM Breakfast, and fallen Channel 10 talent finding their way to radio, listen to this week’s episode of the Radio Today Tonight podcast.

You can subscribe to Radio Today Tonight now on Apple, SpotifyGoogle or iHeartRadio.

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