Tim Ross on Melbourne’s radio wars: “The audience doesn’t care if you’re No.1”


So, week one is done and dusted. The first salvo’s been fired. It was down and thoroughly dirty from the outset. And with Kyle & Jackie O having certainly made their presence felt in Melbourne, the onus is now well and truly on their competition.

The big question for the city’s other FM Breakfast shows is: Do you change your content to compete with K & J? Or do you stay the same?

On the latest episode of the Game Changers Radio: Melbourne Radio Wars podcast, Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross offers a telling insight.

As one half of the hugely successful Breakfast radio team Merrick & Rosso, Ross says that when they were faced with the K & J onslaught themselves several years back, their own show was tweaked.

“It wasn’t huge. It was just more of the insertion of that showbiz stuff and using various newsreaders to do more of that,” Ross says.

“And the stunts were different. The most famous one was where – this was really pushed on us and we didn’t want to do it – there was a competition to run out of petrol on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.”

“And then we were on the front page of the Telegraph, you know ‘Dumb and Dumber’ on the Sunday, which sort of played well for a lot of people, but it didn’t sit well with us at all, because it wasn’t what we did.”

“We would do silly things, but not at the expense of others.”

Ross reckons there’s a lesson in that.

“If you do what you do, you’ll be fine. The audience doesn’t care if you’re number one.”

With the Game Changers podcast having previously narrowed the battleground down to Fox, Nova and KIIS, content and music strategist Irene Hulme thinks Kyle & Jackie O won the week.

“They were always going to, really,” says Hulme. “Most entertaining. Definitely the most marketing that I saw. Everybody in Melbourne – absolutely no doubt – knows that they are on the air.”

That’s not to say their content wasn’t a shock to the system.

“I said I was horrified on Monday and I’m still horrified,” says Hulme.

And for her, the most horrifying moment of all came mid-week, around 9.20.

“I can’t say it, but it’s as bad as they get. On a scale of one to ten, it’s a twelve.”

As for taking up considerable chunks of show time with their long on-air chats, former SCA content boss Craig Bruce says “No-one is there for the music. They just want to hear the dynamic that Kyle and Jack have.”

Ross Flahive (pictured above), Content Director at ZM in New Zealand programmed the Jase & PJ national Drive show and has his own views on how the Melbourne Breakfast radio battle might unfold.

Of Nova’s Jase Hawkins, Flahive says “Jase is an amazing operator. I think he is truly one of the best.”

“He will put every single waking hour into getting out and meeting people and doing a real grassroots way of getting people to love the show.”

Of Hawkins’ hosting skills, Flahive says “He doesn’t need to be the star. He’s really happy to lob up the person on the other side of the desk and make them bring out all the goods.”

After sampling some of K & J’s trademark content, Flahive says his immediate reaction was “Holy shit. I’ve never heard such filth in my life!”

But, eight minutes later, he was still listening.

“It’s so engaging,” Flahive says.

“There’s going to be all this chatter about them being the most disgusting, crass, whatever … you tune in at 8 o’clock and it’s polished. It’s raw and primal.”

Flahive doesn’t place a lot of importance on localism.

“I largely don’t think that local matters. Good content matters.”

“But if you do genuine local (content) quite well, as in, you actually live that market and are that market, and be that market … there is a potential there.”

As far as Tim Ross is concerned, out of all the Breakfast shows, the only person who shouldn’t be worrying is Christian O’Connell.

“Because, you know, he’s so good and he’s such a great practitioner and knows every trick. And he does them all so well.”

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6 May 2024 - 5:10 pm

Being a media lover, had a listen to this out of interest of what’s happening in the Melbourne radio landscape. The hosts, whoever they are, never heard of them – they just sound like two old people with an axe to grind. Not a very balanced view or in touch with the Melbourne audience.

Jason, Andrew Toppin from Mubarek Victoria
8 May 2024 - 8:42 am

Kyle and Jackie, we will fail in Norman Melbourne listeners do not like Sydney announces imposed upon them

8 May 2024 - 4:55 pm

It’s Nova for me, love Jase and Loz. Followed them from Kiis, love the banter, everything bout them. Not interested in K and J, not for me. Go Nova, you’re the best


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