SCA Newcastle’s Mike Byrne on survey success and the challenge of rebranding KOFM

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Triple M Newcastle finished the first full GfK radio survey since its rebrand as the #1 station in the region.

102.9 said farewell to the heritage brand KOFM in November 2018 and became Triple M Newcastle.

The rebrand doesn’t appear to have hurt the station in the ratings, gaining +3.7 to reach a dominant 16.8% share of listening among People 10+.

“I was pretty confident in the lead-up,” SCA Newcastle group content director Mike Byrne tells Radio Today.

“I think we had the benefit of having had a bunch of other heritage stations around the group who transitioned to Triple M a couple of years before we did.

“So obviously, we learned a lot of lessons and we could see what worked and what didn’t work in some of those other markets.”

With KOFM one of the SCA’s last remaining heritage-branded stations, the priority became making sure listeners knew it would be the same radio station, but with a new lick of paint.

“We made sure that our rebrand was the best yet, and so we were pretty confident heading into it, that what were going to get good results.

“It was received well and we knew any negativity would be pretty quickly erased by the simple fact that the product has by large remained exactly the same.

“The Breakfast show has just continued to improve and resonate more with the audience, the music essentially remained exactly the same, with the same target audience, the same…

“We didn’t suddenly become a rock station, or move our target audience in any way, so I think we were always pretty confident.”

Byrne admits there was an initial push back by listeners when the rebrand was first announced.

“First of all there was the shock horror that, you know ‘I can’t believe you’re getting rid of one of the last heritage brands that’s been in the market since 1931’.

“Stage two was the acceptance that really nothing had changed, I mean we were KOFM on Thursday and the offering the next day was exactly the same just with a different name.

“I think a significant portion of the audience just went, okay and moved on. And so then it was really up to us to make sure we made the most of that noise in the market with the rebrand.”

Local Breakfast duo Tanya & Steve are one of the station’s greatest assets, and remain clear market leaders with an 18.3% share (+1.7).

Mike says the Breakfast show is about more than just good localism.

“A lot of shows do localism and localism is relatively easy to do.

“I think what they do and they do it so very very well, is that they genuinely immerse themselves in the market and have done for 25 years each.

“What makes them different apart from the localism I think is their extraordinary chemistry between the two of them there, they’re just good friends and have been for a long time.”

Just over a year into taking on a National Drive show, Triple M Newcastle listeners finally seem to be coming around on Kennedy Molloy.

The syndicated show went past stablemates Hughesy & Kate to end with 16.7% (+4.8) and the top spot on FM Drive.

“We did cop a lot of grief from when we sort of took Mick and Jane, from some very vocal audience members who didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t a local show.

“The results today and the results past year has proven that it was a smart thing to do so.

“I was just off the phone with Dangerous Dave actually who anchors the show and they’re delighted about the result.

“It’s a bloody good show and that’s the point, a bloody good show will always do well.”

Catch up on the full results from GfK’s first Newcastle survey of 2019 here.

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Old mate
20 May 2019 - 5:38 pm

MB is One of the best in the business !!

Jeff Crapp
24 May 2019 - 1:39 pm

Congratulations on everything you have achieved Michael. Now may I have my copy of Art of War back?


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