The Underachievers: Stations to watch in 2019

Former Assistant Editor

The radio industry is constantly moving forward and with 2018 firmly in the rearview mirror, we’ll soon enough be looking to see who kicks off 2019 with a bang.

The good news for shows that underperformed last year is that a fresh start is just around the corner, with the ratings period for Survey #1 starting in less than two weeks.

Here are the stations who had mixed performances, or didn’t quite hit the mark last year.

As Triple M Brisbane showed last year, with a ratings turnaround from 9.7% at the start of 2018 to a market-leading 13.3% in the final survey, anything is possible in 12 months.

You just need the right product mix of Breakfast talent, chemistry on your Drive show, a successful music strategy, with a great content director and product team to pull it all together.

2DayFM Sydney

Another year begins and perennial strugglers 2DayFM will be again hoping for a turnaround, both on Breakfast and overall. The station ended 2018 with 5.4% (-0.1) and was flat at 4.6% on Breakfast.

This year Ash London replaces Em Rusciano on a permanent basis, after filling in for the last few months of last year following her departure.

A knowledgable music jock with strong interview skills, it’s yet to be seen whether Ash will prove effective foil to anchor Ed Kavalee and relative newcomer Grant Denyer, and pull 2Day Breakfast out of its slumber.

KIIS 101.1 Melbourne

Steady without being spectacular might be a kind way of putting the performance of KIIS FM Melbourne in 2018. It finished the year with a 6.1% share.

New for 2018 Brekky duo Jase and PJ also seem to have curated a small, loyal audience and are rating 5.7% (+0.2) among People 10+.

But as Duncan Campbell told us after Survey #8, the station struggles with being similar to its most direct competitors. “With the music foundation, there’s very little music differentiation between Nova, Fox and KIIS and we were the third CHR in that market,” he said.

If Jase and PJ fail to bed in further, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re considered for Drive, where they were successful in New Zealand, with KIIS Network National Drive show Will and Woody failing to make an impression last year.

97.3 Brisbane

For much of 2018, Brisbane was the most competitive metro market in the country, with four stations fighting it out for top spot.

As the year went on, however, 97.3 fell away from Nova, Hit and Triple M, and as of Survey #8 rated 9.7%.

The station said goodbye to popular personality Robin Bailey over a year ago, and mid-way through the year lost Terry Hansen to health and family reasons. He was replaced by Mike Van Acker, and the show is yet to really hit its stride after these changes.

“We know that 97.3 is a strong station overall, we just have to build that Breakfast show and create familiarity around Bianca and Mike,” Duncan Campbell told Radio Today after Survey #8.

Nova 91.9 Adelaide

Nova 91.9 Adelaide could be set for a big year, but a lot will depend on how Dylan and Hayley perform on Breakfast.

They finished up with a 9.8% share of listening (+0.2) after losing Shane Lowe in the back end of 2018, while the station finished in double digits overall.

Nova’s success will also come down to Adelaide’s appetite for new music, with the station being the closest thing to a pure CHR station in the market, a clear point of difference. Aircheck data suggests that only 15.1% of their music was shared with Mix 102.3 during the Survey #8 date range, so their only real music competition is triple j.

Paul Jackson told Radio Today at the end of 2018 that he’s been happy with the progress of the show since Lowe’s departure.

“We’ve done particularly well in Adelaide in the last few books and we’re working with the team down there to get the Breakfast show back into double digits as well,” Jackson said.

Triple M Sydney

Based on the success of Triple M Brisbane, the decision to bring Lawrence ‘The Moonman’ Mooney to MMM Sydney Breakfast could be a sage one by SCA.

Triple M Sydney clearly has a loyal audience, with its overall share and that of former Breakfast show The Grill Team hovering around 5-6% for some time now.

Could the new Breakfast show, with the introduction of the Moonman and The Block’s Jess Eva be the thing to take Triple M Sydney to new heights in 2018?

96FM Perth

Undoubtedly ARN’s worst-performing station over the past few years, 2018 was another year gone with 96FM again failing to make up much ground on Perth’s market leaders Nova and Mix94.5.

The station had an overall upturn to 8.6% (+1.0) while Brekky show Paul and Lise ended the year with a 7.7% share of listening (+1.1).

Speaking with Radio Today after Survey #8, Duncan Campbell insisted that ARN were going to “give it a good crack” in 2019.

“It’s been rock solid for many years, and the KIIS of Perth is Nova with their heritage show there,” he said. “So trying to wedge 96FM in there is difficult.”

Hit107 Adelaide

With Mix so dominant in Adelaide, the other stations are by definition, struggling in comparison.

Someone will have to make a real run at taking it to the Jodie and Soda this year, and Hit will look to give it a real shot, with plenty depending on how new Breakfast show Bec and Cosi perform.

Hit107 is currently running SCA’s ‘More Music, More Variety’ music strategy, so they have the most-similar music format to Mix102.3 in the market.

Following the departure of Amos and Cat from the network, and Angus O’Laughlin moving to a new, yet to be announced role at SCA, Hit107 ended the year with an upturn to 9.4% (+1.3). This was reflected on Breakfast too, with a solid share of 7.8% among people 10+ (+2.1).

Can the networks turn these stations around, and which of them are most likely to succeed in 2019? Let us know in the comments.

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Recent comments (14)
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11 Jan 2019 - 2:58 pm


11 Jan 2019 - 5:54 pm

Can’t wait for the Moonman!

11 Jan 2019 - 6:43 pm

Not really underachievers… more like basically a list of major metro shows across the country? You should do a regional radio one.

12 Jan 2019 - 7:15 am

Nova Adelaide has no CHR competition and 96 in Perth has never delivered for ARN. Must be a very poor return on investment given the price they paid. Hit107 will struggle against leaders Mixfm. 107 might just be Adelaides 2DAYFM in 2019.

12 Jan 2019 - 10:13 am

Do we really think listeners buy into these statements in 2019 “ More Music, More Variety “ Didn’t this become redundant in the 90’s. It’s tired and not that believable.

Chris Maitland
13 Jan 2019 - 7:31 am

Why do only FM stations get a mention in your story? How about the under performing Macquarie Sports Radio or even 2SM?

Rachel S
13 Jan 2019 - 2:25 pm

These shows just make up the numbers… like 3rd and 4th place… and for some 7th.
Fun game – place your bets on who will still be on here come Dec 2019.

13 Jan 2019 - 7:49 pm

Adelaide needs a point of difference. Hit and more recently Nova sound like they are desperate to imitate the mix formula and playlist. Nova’s greatest hits workday just sounds like slightly newer Mix playlist whilst Hit is the ‘edgy’ copy of Mix. Let’s just say Adelaide lacks the variety these stations promise.

17 Jan 2019 - 7:56 pm

Get rid of Will & woody,Put Mark Pascoe for drive and play more classic and modern rock.96 fm Perth’s best rock.

17 Jan 2019 - 7:58 pm

Don’t listen to 96fm.Listen to Triple m modern rock.

21 Jan 2019 - 10:29 am

Another comic from Melbourne taking on Kyle this will be fun to watch.

21 Jan 2019 - 10:37 am

Mick Molloy hasn’t worked on drive in Sydney what would make SCA think Mooney from Melbourne will work in breakfast in Sydney ?

21 Feb 2019 - 8:15 am

It would help if Ed and Grant were actually in Sydney. There will be another new breakfast lineup in 2020.

Old Grumps
22 Feb 2019 - 3:23 pm

You’ve put no money into 96fm and expect it to compete with Nova and Mix? No chance.

Lise and Paul will work their butts off but ARN won’t match their ambition. Sadly, it will be the same story in 2019.

The music is terrible (change station dad, I get that every morning) and the shows are invisible in a highly competitive market.

The digital offering is woeful and clearly run by inexperienced kids on 50k a year, you can have all the enthusiasm in the world but it’s no substitute for experience.

No guts, no glory and ARN have shown they have no guts at all.


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