Digital Newcastle launches to help grow the local digital economy
19Jun12

Digital NewcastleThe rapid advancement of technology, especially online technology, presents a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Its something I am keenly aware of as I do business with a wide range of organisations whilst also trying to launch new ideas and applications into the marketplace.

I consider myself to be pretty conversant in the latest happenings in the digital world, but even I have to ask around at times or risk missing opportunities. So I can’t even imagine how the average business owner, marketing manager or government agency must feel trying to keep up with such a rapidly changing environment.

The roll-out of the National Broadband Network only increases the need for knowledge in order to understand its implications and opportunities.

What we desperately need is someone who can help connect the dots.

  • Someone neutral and knowledgeable who can point us in the right direction.
  • Someone who is talking to government agencies and knows where funding is available.
  • Someone who can help advise organisations about putting together good tenders and inviting the right people to pitch.
  • Someone passionate enough about the industry and region to identify opportunities and help them to fruition
  • Someone who can help provide training options to those who need it.

Fortunately in Newcastle we now have that someone, Gordon Whitehead aka @the_git.

And that brings me to a significant announcement. After 6 years at Sticky, Gordon is moving to a new role that has evolved from his founding of The Lunaticks. The project is called Digital Newcastle and Gordon will be doing all the above and more.

He’ll be connecting the dots between government, government agencies, local business, education, start-ups, digital agencies and services providers.

To be clear: this is a new role with a different organisation and totally independent of Sticky.

I’ll be signing on as a sponsor of Digital Newcastle and I encourage other agencies to sign on as well. Collectively we’ll all benefit from this initiative and it will only be truly effective if the right dots are being connected.

I’d like to congratulate to Gordon on this exciting new role. Already he has garnered considerable support from local government and business groups, and I urge all Newcastle and Hunter businesses and agencies to support him so he can help the entire region flourish in this burgeoning digital economy.

 

Vale Warwick Teece
20Feb12

Newcastle media and advertising stalwart Warwick Teece passed away last Friday night. Warwick had been a successful radio broadcaster on both 2NX and 2HD where his open line talk-back show became highly influential in the region.

Warwick moved onto a long and respected career in advertising with wife Lyn Thurnham and their agency Thurnham Teece.

He’ll be sorely missed.

Our thoughts go out to Lyn and Warwick’s family.

Newcastle radio: Time for change as ratings hit new lows
29Jul11

I have long argued that Newcastle radio suffers from the commercial duopoly of NXFM / KOFM (one parent), and 2HD / NEWFM (one parent). To make matters worse half of the duopoly is totally ineffective and barely competes for audience or advertising share.

The result is NXFM and KOFM run away with the ratings and the bulk of the money and can afford to charge high advertising rates, while 2HD / NEWFM take what they can get.

Even worse, listeners really are left with very little quality to choose from. Lack of competition results in lack of innovation, little talent development and a general laziness. Its the same in any industry.

Steve and Kim on NXFM have been doing basically the same show for over a decade. David and Tanya have been working together for 20 years now and have done the breakfast shift on KOFM for over a decade. They’re all good people, but that is hardly an environment for innovation and excitement. Honestly, its a credit to them that they can continue to wake up early and put a show on after so long with so little competition.

Meanwhile the playlists between NEWFM & KOFM are interchangeable and half of NXFM’s music fits well with those two as well. How much 80′s rewind can we withstand?

I fear the problem is only getting worse after seeing the latest radio ratings for Newcastle. NXFM (20.8 share) has leapt out to a massive lead over stablemate KOFM (17.1), while 2HD has hit new lows (11.9) and NEWFM has dropped back down again (7.6). The disparity is alarming and bad for Newcastle.

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Brand Newcastle launches
3Jun11

Brand Newcastle

Brand Newcastle was unveiled yesterday and now, just a day later, the usual sniping and cynicism has surfaced.

A read through The Herald comments today would not be a fun experience for the team who created the new logo at Peach Advertising or the civic leaders who commissioned the branding. But perhaps everyone should take a breath and look at the bigger picture here.

Branding is a very subjective exercise, everyone has an opinion (after its done) and rarely do you see a rush of positive feedback on a new logo. A few weeks ago Virgin Australia launched its new branding by one of the leading Australian designer Hans Hulsbosch. Immediately the advertising and design industry dissected the work with similar bitchiness to what we’re seeing today for Brand Newcastle. I remember Qantas receiving the same treatment for their recent brand revamp.

The point is that a design team is always on a hiding to nothing with these exercises and there will always be a critical audience ready to tear anything new like this down. There were plenty of critics of the Sydney Opera House when it was first announced but today it is possibly Australia most iconic symbol.

Whether you love it or hate it, I believe that Newcastle Council and Peach should be commended for their efforts in trying to put Newcastle back on the map. A brand or logo doesn’t solve every issue in town but its a starting point, a rallying call for some civic pride and an identity beyond the Hunter.

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Calling all Newcastle bloggers & social media freaks
25Nov10

The social media community is fairly vibrant and well-established in the Newcastle area now. I think its about time to highlight the great writers, photographers, sights, scenes and ideas floating around the region and put them all in one easy place for everyone to find.

This photo is here for no other reason than its of a Newcastle beach

My team and I are putting together a side project to curate the best Hunter-based content.

That’s where you come in. We’re looking for people who’d like to contribute to a well-run online magazine for Newcastle and the Hunter. Its a chance for you to raise your profile, discuss burning issues, highlight the things you love and get some additional traffic and link-love along the way.

It’s a little bit Huffington Post (without heavy politics), a little bit Daily Candy, a little bit Digital Ministry (community contribution, not the geeky content), a little bit Gridskipper.

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[Newcastle Radio] Survey 1, 2010. Big result for ABC
27Apr10

Newcastle radio survey 1, 2010

The first Newcastle radio survey of 2010 has been a very good one for the ABC but costly for the commercial broadcasters.

AM talk station ABC1233 increased their Monday to Sunday share by 1.2% to claim third place overall, dislodging 2HD. Aaron Kearney’s breakfast program had the biggest gain, moving to second place with a gain of 2.3%. ABC1233′s weekend results were similarly impressive as they became the Hunter’s favourite Saturday / Sunday station with a gain of 3.9%, leaping past both NXFM and KOFM.

ABC’s national youth network, Triple J also had a great survey with a 2.4% gain overall to take it in front of  NEWFM.

The survey wasn’t a good one for Newcastle’s 4 commercial stations.

KOFM dropped 0.2% overall but lost 2 points in the crucial breakfast slot, losing their #2 position along the way.

NXFM retained their #1 position overall but dropped 4.3% in doing so. Likewise the NX breakfast had a big drop of 4.3%. In fact, NX had big drops in every slot, which must be of concern to station management.

2HD continued its long slide but the biggest issue is their breakfast show. Luke Grant was controversially sacked as 2HD breakfast announcer late last year and his replacement Brent Bultitude has seen the show fall further in the ratings to now be a distant 4th. SIDENOTE: Luke Grant is now on air in Melbourne at MTR as part of the biggest radio re-launch of 2010.

Longtime struggler NEWFM was the only commercial station to actually see gains, rising 1.5% overall and 0.9% in Breakfast. This will be encouraging for the station but the fact remains they are still a very distant 6th in this market and have a long way to go until they are competitive.

Its been a strange survey and the question seems to be: why are the commercial stations falling while ABC rises?

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Official: Luke Grant signs with Macquarie Radio Network
26Feb10

Following several rumours that ex-2HD breakfast announcer Luke Grant was about to sign with another network and was leaving Newcastle, I contacted him for official word.

Luke confirmed that he has signed a contract with Macquarie Radio Network and starts work on Monday1 March 2010 in Melbourne. He will be working directly with Steve Price on assembling a commercial talk radio station, as reported elsewhere, in direct competition with long time market leader 3AW.

Luke cannot elaborate on any other details at this stage.

Statement from ex-2HD announcer Luke Grant [Newcastle radio]
9Feb10

This statement just arrived via email  from Luke Grant dated 5 February 2010. I have spoken with Mr Grant to confirm that he was indeed the sender and wanted it published:

“Following what I consider my unfair dismissal from Radio 2HD after more than 4 successful years hosting the Luke Grant Show, an attempt for conciliation with Fair Work Australia to resolve my claim was yesterday unsuccessful.

Whilst I cannot reveal the details of the conciliation I can confirm that my nature is always to find compromise if possible.

I will now pursue my rights through a public hearing in the next couple of months where I will present witnesses who will help uncover the truth and clearly demonstrate the difficulties I found working in the environment of 2HD.

I strongly deny any suggestion by the management of 2HD that I have acted other than with professionalism and integrity in a high pressure role and plainly say I was effectively starved of support in my judgement.

I would again like to extend my gratitude to colleagues, listeners and advertisers of 2HD for their loyal support, encouragement and good wishes. Being dismissed a week before Christmas has made my circumstances very difficult and I will continue a strong and public campaign to be reinstated or compensated.”

No further comment will be made at this stage.

[Newcastle radio] Luke Grant speaks about his dismissal from 2HD
14Jan10

Former 2HD breakfast announcer has finally spoken publicly about his dismissal in today’s Newcastle Herald. Grant maintains that the main reason for his dismissal was apparently for not playing some commercials, something the station has repeatedly denied. Here is the full story from The Herald:

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2HD’s breakfast replacement for Luke Grant revealed
8Jan10

Following on from December’s dismissal of 2HD breakfast announcer Luke Grant, we can now reveal that Brent Bultitude will be his replacement.

Several industry insiders suggested in comments to MediaHunter that Bultitude, the former afternoon announcer on 2HD, would move into the breakfast shift, and it seems they were correct.

Brent Bultitude has just joined Twitter as @2HDBreakfast and his one message so far is, “Doing the final prep for the first show! Join Brent on the airwaves from 6am on Monday!”