Survey #1: Mike Fitzpatrick on Mooney, McGuire & mining DAB+ audiences

Former Assistant Editor

The first metro survey of the year is done and dusted, so what will the rest of 2019 look like for the major commercial networks?

Radio Today spoke with content directors from the major networks following the release of this week’s survey results, to get their take on the current state of play, as well as to find out how they think the rest of the year will pan out.

Mike ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick – whose head of content role at Triple M recently expanded to include all of Triple M regional – revealed his thoughts on some of the networks new Breakfast shows, the strong performance of Melbourne Breakfast and Kennedy Molloy, and how 2019 will unfold.

On Triple M Sydney

Triple M Sydney has a new Breakfast show, helmed by Lawrence Mooney, which replaced the long-serving Matty Johns-led Grill Team.

Fitzy reveals he landed in a tough spot last year when Matty announced he was leaving the network after the best part of a decade on Breakfast.

“I didn’t have a lot of time considering Matty pulled the pin in November,” he says.

“I was going into Christmas thinking I had a Breakfast show for the next twelve months on Triple M Sydney and then the rug got pulled from under me.

“So we didn’t have long at all, we had six weeks to pull the show together.”

Moonman In The Morning secured a 4.7% share of listening on Breakfast (-1.5), but Fitzy says that early signs are good and he intends to give the show and its new-look format as much time as it needs to bed in with Sydney listeners.

“The show is six weeks old, we haven’t marketed it in any way,” he says.

“I’m not a believer in marketing a show until we are absolutely 100% happy with it. The guys are still working really hard behind the scenes to get everything right.

“Having said that, I’m not unhappy with a 4.7 as the first survey for a brand new Breakfast show in Sydney. I thought that if we had anything north of a 4 today I’d be happy.

“It’s really encouraging, especially when you consider we’ve had really good cume in 10+ males.”

So what are his goals for the rest of the year?

“I would expect to see incremental increases across the year. And I’d like the year in a better position than we started it.”

On Triple M Brisbane

Something that Fitzy and Triple M had to consider was the knock-on effect that pulling the Moonman into Sydney would have on his top rating Breakfast show in Brisbane.

“I’m confident that Rex and the team have found the right person in Nick Cody as well in Brisbane,” says Fitzy.

“He’s young, he’s funny and his star is on the rise.”

Triple M Brisbane Breakfast also took a hit this survey, but still rated a strong 11.7% (-2.4) and hung on to second spot behind Nova.

Fitzy doesn’t expect the rebuilding process to take nearly as long, telling Radio Today that Brisbane Breakfast has “great bones” in the form of Robin Bailey and Greg Martin.

“The difference with Sydney is that it’s a brand new show, apart from Gus Worland. It’s a different style of show.

“[Brisbane Breakfast] is already two-thirds of the way there. We are starting with a great foundation, with two really solid radio performers who have great profile and a proven track record.

“It won’t be easy but i’ll certainly expect to see better results in Brisbane.”

On Triple M Melbourne

Triple M’s best result this survey was undoubtedly that of legacy Melbourne show The Hot Breakfast, helmed by Eddie McGuire.

The rise of that show means that SCA now has the #1 and #2 FM Breakfast show in Melbourne. Add to that the strong performance of Kennedy Molloy and they’ve got the top two shows on Drive as well.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the Hit Network, but the Fox Breakfast show is very strong. Fox is the biggest cuming radio station in Australia,” says Fitzy.

He says the performance of The Hot Breakfast is the result of a lot of hard work and elbow grease since the introduction of Wil Anderson.

“You’ve got to remember that Wil has been in the show for 16 months. Much like Brisbane we took a much-loved part of that show out [Mick Molloy] and added somebody else.

“So it’s taken us 16 months to get that show back to a place where we are happy with it. Wil has been active in how it’s running off-air, he thinks like a producer. Plus Eddie and Darce love to win.

“We’ve put more music and contests into that show this year. The early signs are that it’s heading in the right direction.”

On Kennedy Molloy

Kennedy Molloy have grown into one of the network’s strongest performers over the last year, and pairing seasoned heads Mick Molloy and Jane Kennedy (almost 30 years after they’d worked together on The D-Generation) is looking like a masterstroke.

Fitzy admits he expected the pair to resonate a bit earlier than this, but he’s happy nonetheless, especially with a very strong Adelaide result for the pair.

“To get them up two-and-a-half points is great, it’s where I expected them to be last year.

“They were up in every market except Sydney where they held their audience. In Melbourne, they’re within 0.3 of Kate, Tim & Marty.

“You’ve got to wait for people to come across, it’s very hard to move people from their favourite show.

“That doesn’t mean Kennedy Molloy’s not a great show, I think it’s fantastic. But it just takes time.

Kennedy Molloy also had a strong book in Perth, going #1 in the west.

Mix94.5 retained top spot overall among People 10+ and on Breakfast, and Fitzy says strong localism is vital in keeping that station performing strongly.

“Mix in Perth is always a solid performer. Erica and the team know the market.

“The other difference is we don’t run national contests over there, we run local contests so the winners are always Perth locals. Mix is well positioned to have a great year in 2019.

On DAB+ Growth

SCA’s push with DAB+ has been well publicised, and Fitzy was eager to point out the new listeners that launching Triple M Aussie and pushing stations like Triple M Country and Classic Rock into additional markets has brought.

“DAB+ is going to continue to grow,” he says.

“In Sydney alone, we launched Triple M Aussie digital to 67,000 new listeners. That’s a station that didn’t exist before.

“If you add the cume growth with Classic Rock digital, Triple M Aussie and Triple M Greatest Hits, we’ve added 126,000 listeners to the Triple M audio stack.

“We’ve got this strategy, right. When our advertisers buy an ad on Triple M they buy it across all of our audio assets.

“We’re only going to see that continue to grow with an increased marketing focus on our digital stations.”

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17 Mar 2019 - 9:34 am

At least Fitzy talks some sense unlike Duncan and Dobbo who seem to talk in riddles.


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