Want your station to win? Hire Kyle, or broaden your breakfast show


Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network.

What’s the difference between a radio station that’s winning the ratings and one that’s not? Mostly it’s the quality of the breakfast show.

Recent ratings gains in breakfast from Sydney’s Triple M Grill Team, and the success of Eddie McGuire’s Hot Breakfast on Melbourne’s Triple M, are great examples of quality breakfast shows that have taken considerable time to grow – and whilst they’re targeted at men, they have broad appeal and dimensions. Those two station’s overall ratings have grown as the breakfast shows have improved and grown.

Great Breakfast shows should appeal to their target audience – but to maximise breakfast ratings and a station’s overall ratings breakfast shows should be as broad as possible. Broad is good ! For a station to win, or to ensure it’s near the top of the ratings, the Breakfast show generally has to be broad in its appeal. Great, specialist execution skills are required to create, craft and edit a show that the target will love, while at the same time providing enough balance to appeal to a wider audience.

For instance, on a female skewed show it would be on target to talk about a fairly exclusive female topic like ‘Are you uncomfortable wearing high heel shoes to work‘. However, a similar topic like ‘Are you uncomfortable if your co workers are showing too much cleavage at work ‘ resonates not only with the target audience but also with male listeners and a wider demographic.

Or, on a male targeted show, a topic could be about a football game (very male skewed) or could be about ‘my teenage daughter wants her boyfriend to sleep over‘ – which has both male and female appeal.

As well as its content and features, a breakfast show expected to achieve high ratings needs to be broad in terms of the appeal of the talent. The talent in a show each need to be unique and different with contrary points of views, personalities and character. The great show and talent must be able to convey a broad range of emotions – you need to ensure that you make the listeners laugh, make them cry – or at least make them think! They need to feel and think something from listening to your show.

For a breakfast show to rate really well it has to have both strong male and female appeal. It also needs to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible and to a broad range of socioeconomic groups as well. The old adage ‘keep your music format as narrow as possible and your breakfast as wide as possible‘ is in most instances true.

“Relatability” remains the single most critical factor of any show. The talent has to be able to reveal enough of ‘themselves‘ in order for the listener to relate to them.  Relating to the target as well as the wider listening audience is important. Some breakfast content will hit your target’s ‘sweet spot‘ – and most of the content should resonate and connect with a wider broader audience as well. So the show will be ‘hot‘ for some listeners (the target) and ‘warm’ for others. 

Every listener needs at least one person or character in the show that they can actually relate to. Primal emotional content, should be the key part of any strong Breakfast show. It’s what listeners will relate to the most and what they will remember the show for. It’s also what they will talk about to other people, therefore generating word of mouth. Stunts and tactics, whilst good for getting attention, are not going to win you fans and generate strong ratings. The winning ratings will come from delivering quality content that’s broad in its appeal.

The great high rating Breakfast shows I’ve listened to that have broad appeal include :-

  • Kidd Kraddick in the Morning (networked across the US)
  • Kyle & Jackie O on 2DAY
  • Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2
  • Ryan Seacrest with Ellen K on KIIS LA
  • Matt & Jo on FOX
  • The Morning Show with Mark & Kristen on KOST
  • John Holmes on XFM
  • Eddie McGuire’s Hot Breakfast on Triple M Melbourne
  • Matt in The Morning KIIS Boston
  • Jonesy and Amanda WSFM
  • Kevin & Bean on KROQ
  • Robin, Terry and Bob on 97.3FM Brisbane
  • and the best broad appeal breakfast show that’s not on breakfast ? Nova’s Meshel, Tim and Marty.

Worth checking some of these out if you haven’t heard them in a while.

If your Breakfast Show isn’t broad enough, don’t expect huge ratings numbers.

Be broad. Be very broad !

Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network


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