The Rise of ARN – Part 3

2014 has been the “The Rise of ARN”. 

We have been talking with Group Content Director Duncan CampbellFrom the evolution of the KIIS brand, and the cultural shift to the securing of some big name talent.

In our final part, we look at the Pure Gold re-brand, what part iHeartradio plays in the mix, what 2015 will bring, what keeps Duncan motivated and who said “who would have thought that we would be placing this level of talent onto ARN?”  

We will start off with a look at ARN’s marketing of the KIIS brand.

Blair Sullivan:  Marketing with KIIS…. How aggressive have you been on that front this year, have you been happy with the results?

Duncan Campbell: I think Anthony Xydis our Marketing Director and the team have done a fantastic job. The agency we use have come up with some great concepts.

We are working on refreshing the Kyle and Jackie O marketing for 2015 at the moment.

ARN has never marketed as strongly as it has in 2014 and that will continue into 2015. We are very aware of the importance of that and it’s very much a part of our continuing growth strategy.


Blair Sullivan:  Do you leverage the APN groups other media assets to assist the radio brands or do you run your own race?

Duncan Campbell: From a content perspective, radio content is very different and we tend to run our own race really. As you know it’s a different beast, music radio to newspapers. So we tend to do our own thing.


BS:  We saw you step out with iHeartfestival this year, unfortunately that fell over because of a band pulling out. Are you planning to launch again in the New Year with the festival?

DC: Look I don’t know about another festival next year, that hasn’t been confirmed. But iHeartradio is very much a part of what we do. We are going to crack over 500,000 downloads this year which is quiet extraordinary. We had some very successful events, more on the small scale. And the culmination of the events this year will be the KIIS 1065 iHeartradio Pool Party at the Ivy at the end of the year.

And we continue to do some very interesting things with iHeart with new stations and looking at ways of commercialising that. That platform is very much a part of our future and how we integrate and develop that will only improve over time.


BS: Let’s talk about the rise and evolution from Classic Hits to Pure Gold – you put the “Classic Hits Brand“ up on the blocks… what were some of the main drivers for that to happen?

DC: I think the stations just sounded old and the audience it was attracting, you know 40 year olds, 45 year olds, 50 year olds just aren’t old. I think it is very hard for people who are under 30 to get their head around to be honest.

Once upon a time people used to look forward to being old, now they don’t want to be old.  They don’t want to listen to a station that reminds them of how old they actually are, despite the music.

And it was time, and very obvious from the strategy we needed to move from a 70’s based radio station into an 80’s based station. And bear in mind, certainly in Sydney, it was very much part of the KIIS introduction as well to position the duopoly as effectively as we could.

So the timing was right to do it in Sydney and we did it in Melbourne as well. Classic Hits just sounded old, the Pure Gold line is just a great line


BS: Yeah, where did it come from?

DC: It came from the agency, they suggested it and we fell in love with it from day one.

And the way that the Pure Gold stations are imaged, packaged and presented is very contemporary by those format standards.

And the music is coming into its own now. The 80’s being the foundation, flavoured still by strong 70’s and flavoured by the 90’s and into the noughties as well.

Personally I think the music and Gold and WS FM has never sounded better.


BS: And you also upped the ante with marketing, Pure Gold  Live…  more of that to come in the New Year?

DC: Yes more of those next year as well. We are taking it into Melbourne as well in the New Year. It was a hugely successful event for us in Sydney and it was fantastic to see the WSFM audience really enjoying a fantastic night of Australian music.

So plans for that and more next year.


BS: You’ve made inroads in acquiring talent for the KIIS Network… are you planning on securing a network drive show for the Pure Gold Brands?

DC: To be honest we haven’t talked about that. I think that the way the drive shows are structured on the Pure Gold stations is a point of difference really.

We actually took off the network drive show several years ago and put local announcers on. So no plan to change that.


BS: What keeps you motivated?

DC: Myself personally?

BS: Yeah

DC: Well I’ve been in radio 32 years now and radio is something I have always wanted to do and always loved. I think that the day it doesn’t excite me is probably the day I end up leaving.

Every day I get up I still thoroughly enjoy coming to work and the fact that ARN itself has been so ambitious in terms of wanting to improve, and drive ratings growth has meant that every day is interesting and there are always challenges .

And no doubt 2015 will be even more challenging than 2014 for us, but in a more exciting and energetic way.

So plenty of life left in me yet (laughs).


BS: Looking back now, what do you think is the biggest achievement for ARN so far?

DC: I think the greatest achievement is the strategic approach we have taken to building our radio stations and we have been very focused on running our own race.

We obviously had the tipping point with Kyle and Jackie O, which elevated our confidence levels. It enabled us to recruit the talent we have for Melbourne.

I think I was paid a great compliment and the company a great compliment, when I was told that there was a group of agents in Melbourne who said that “who would have thought that we would be placing this level of talent onto ARN?”  

Because 3 or 4 years ago, there was no way we would have got a Hughesy and Kate or a Matt Tilley onto an ARN Station.

So the company has come a long way and the teams that work at our radio stations can be really proud of that.

The battle continues, but we are a very different business today than we were 4 years ago.

That’s exciting, it’s great for the industry that there are strong radio groups in the FM music space and I don’t think anyone has talked about radio as much as they have in the last 12 months than they have for a long time.

And they continue to talk about radio as we head into Christmas, and they will be talking about it well into 2015 as well.


BS: And what will 2015 bring?

DC: It will be a focus on Melbourne, it will be very competitive and that will probably dominate the first half of the year. And then there will be the sort of Hamish and Andy question mark post July.

So it’s going to be an exciting year. I think SCA are going through a re-building process to some degree with their Today stations. Trialling the format in Adelaide. They continue to focus on the Rock Sport and Comedy aspect with Triple M.

Nova is a very strong brand, in terms of a radio brand it has got so much heritage, it was very well built back in the day and Smooth also is a very consistent radio brand.

So it’s a very competitive marketplace and very dynamic. It’s very exciting to be part of it all.

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