River view: Why being live and local is still so important


Amid the rise of networked shows, the onslaught of the Kyle & Jackie O machine and the oft-repeated assertion that ‘good content is good content,’ the question remains:

Is being live and local still important?

Even a cursory glance at the first Ipswich radio survey for three years would suggest the answer to that is a resounding YES.

Local ARN station River 949 left the Brisbane heavyweights in its wake, claiming a 33.6 audience share among all people 10+, putting it well ahead of B105 and Triple M, while the local River Breakfast team of Marnie and Campo rose 3.9 to 33.0.

General Manager David Wiltshire believes it sends a clear message.

He tells Radio Today “These latest results highlight just how important being ‘leaders in local’ is within regional areas, and why it remains our core business mission.”

“Simply, the more local we are, the more successful we are!”

Wiltshire says this was endorsed at last year’s Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, where River was awarded the crown for Business of the Year.

The trophy goes to a business that has made a significant impact and outstanding contribution to the local area.

“River is constantly out and about at client events or community activations, and we will always be there when it matters – through floods, fires and good times.”

From its early beginnings to its rebirth as Star FM and now River 949, the station has well and truly embraced its local roots.

River, Wiltshire says, embodies the voice of the Ipswich community.

“As the only station in the region that is live and local 7 days a week, we remain dedicated to producing great content, serving our community and being an important part in their lives.”

“Our listeners know our station and love it.”

Content Director Drew Chapman says the station is lucky to have a full roster of radio pros.

And they know the local area like the back of their hand.

“Every single announcer not only has a vast amount of metro radio experience,” says Chapman “But they also live and breathe our local Ipswich area and know how to connect with our audience every time they turn on the mic.”

Shayne Neumann witnessed that connection first-hand over a decade ago, during Queensland’s flood crisis.

The federal MP and Ipswich local will never forget the harrowing sight of anxious residents in local evacuation centres, huddled around radios, listening to the latest updates on River 949.

In his 2013 address to federal parliament, Neumann – the Federal Member for Blair – praised the local station for supporting residents during those devastating times.

“River 949 staff worked around the clock to get information out to listeners,” he said.

Similarly, the 100% local approach clearly resonates with listeners of Hot Tomato on the Gold Coast.

To say the station went gangbusters in GfK Survey 1 for the Goldie would be an understatement. Its 20.8% share was almost double that of its nearest competitor. It also posted record-breaking overall results in Breakfast and Drive.

Content Director Brendon ‘Whippy’ Dangar said the result reflects Hot Tomato’s focus on local content.

“We are so proud of what we produce for our loyal Gold Coast audience and again have proven local wins all day, every day.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Nick Hay – General Manager of Colac’s Mixx FM and 3CS.

When these local ACE Radio stations in Victoria’s Western District secured the top 2 spots across the airwaves in Colac’s first Xtra Insights radio survey in five years, Hay couldn’t contain his pride in his staff:

“If you do ‘local radio’ well, you have no competitors.”

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