Radio | Media Hunter

Newcastle radio: AM stations fall in Survey 1, 2012

by [me]

The latest Newcastle radio ratings delivered bad news for those stations on the AM dial with both 2HD and ABC1233 recording significant falls.

NXFM topped the ratings again with a share of 18.9%, holding out stablemate KOFM on 17.6%. NEWFM recorded a rise of 1.1 for a share of 8.8% whilst NXFM was the only other station to increase their share.

The real damage was on the AM dial where both 2HD and ABC1233 dropped 2.8%.

For 2HD it was their lowest ratings in the last few decades and signals a significant loss of support. The station lost share in every demographic including a massive loss of 7.2% with the 65+ audience who had previously been their main supporters. 2HD also went down in every shift except Drive, including a drop of 5.3 in Mornings with John Laws.

The cumulative audience figures were even more revealing. 2HD now has a cumulative audience of just 65,000 for the week, while ABC1233 who also took a big hit still has 19,000 more listeners across the 7 days.

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Newcastle radio: Time for change as ratings hit new lows

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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1233 ABC Newcastle Breakfast team finalists in the World’s Best Radio Programs

In what is known as the ‘Oscars of Radio’, the 1233 Breakfast team – Aaron Kearney, Karen Shrosbery along with station manager Phil Ashley-Brown, has been nominated for the Andrew’s Journey series.

The story of Andrew Hall, a young man from Hawks Nest who became a paraplegic after falling from a balcony on Australia Day last year, Andrew’s Journey is a finalist in the world’s best human relations story category.

Presenter Aaron Kearney, Executive Producer Phil Ashley-Brown and Producer Karen Shrosbery have all been invited to attend the gala ceremony in New York in June 2011.

For 54 years the New York Festivals® Radio Awards has recognized the World’s Best Radio ProgramsTM

Each year they receive entries from radio stations, networks and independent producers from over 30 countries. International radio experts from stations and companies donate their time to the judging process. The GrandJury® is comprised of top level industry professionals from 5 continents and over 25 countries.

Congratulations to the whole 1233 Newcastle team for this recognition.

John Laws back on air on the Supernetwork today

John Laws has plugged the golden microphone back in at 2SM

John Laws has plugged the golden microphone back in at 2SM

While digital radio continues to make inroads into the media landscape, in a stroke of retro genius Bill Caralis has lured possibly Australia’s most analogue announcer back on air. John Laws plugged his golden microphone in today at 2SM’s Sydney studios to begin broadcasting to the Supernetwork stations after 2 years in retirement.

It’s strange marriage that just might work. Certainly Laws has nothing to lose in this comeback. 2SM isn’t currently surveyed in Sydney after last being measured at a sub-1% audience, so it will be a long time before anyone can actually determine whether he’s pulling an audience. If they decide to re-join the ratings race any increase will be seen as a victory…and surely they can rate more than “margin of error” with Laws on the roster.

The bigger win will be across Caralis’s regional AM network where ratings have slipped in the morning shift over the last two years. There’s a strong chance the return of Laws will produce a lift in ratings, even if the average audience will as old as the man himself (75).

However you suspect this game isn’t about ratings, but rather network sponsorship deals. And Laws has always been good for sponsors. Supernetwork sales teams should be rubbing their hands together for a while now as they bask in the warm glow of the golden mic.

Caralis and Laws: over before it begins?

John Laws

image from

The biggest game in radio at the moment isn’t “secret sound” or “5th caller through”. In fact, its not even on air.

Bets are being taken across the radio industry on how long the John Laws comeback will last on the Bill Caralis owned 2SM Supernetwork.

I wagered they might make it until September 2011 before Laws pulled the pin, but some insiders are saying it might not even get off the ground with word circulating a signed contract doesn’t exist. Either way, it’s going to be interesting.

It makes sense for Caralis to lure Laws back on air at 2SM. The station was rating less than 1% years ago when Caralis withdrew it from official Surveys, so the formerly high-rating Laws should have a good shot at improving audience numbers, and might even see 2SM being surveyed again.

But the real value for Caralis is networking Laws across his AM network throughout northern NSW and southern Queensland. The John Laws show used to be a good money spinner where he was relayed on the Supernetwork and Caralis would be keen to restore some of that old magic.

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Hamish & Andy quit drive show

Announcement from Austereo:

The Hamish & Andy show will be a little smaller in size but equally as tasty in 2011.

Hamish & Andy and Austereo announce today the boys will do a free weekly podcast that will air a 2-hour radio show once a week on the Today Network and syndicated stations. There is also the option left open to pop up and work on additional projects with Austereo throughout the year.

Hamish & Andy said: “The idea of giving up the show completely was never considered as it is the most fun in the world. In addition to that, the listeners create the show just as much as us, so if we were to stop, we’d have had to consult every one of them. That’s an expensive phone bill.”

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Laws joining 2SM in January?

Source: Radioinfo

Those close to John Laws report that the radio legend is not taking retirement all that well and is desperate to return to his natural habitat, the padded walls of a radio studio. In all likelihood, that studio will be at 2SM.

Sources say that Laws has lunched with Supernetwork owner, Bill Caralis, on two or three occasions over the past six months and that a deal has been struck for golden tonsils’ return on the 39 station network that covers much of NSW and southern QLD.

Brent Bultitude resigns from radio 2HD

Breakfast announcer Brent Bultitude has resigned suddenly from Newcastle radio station 2HD. He has been Breakfast announcer on the Bill Caralis owned station since late 2009 when he replaced Luke Grant who was dismissed in controversial circumstances.

Bultitude has only been on air for one radio survey in the Breakfast slot, falling to 4th place behind ABC1233. Word is that he walked out last Thursday and said he wouldn’t be coming back.

Richard King is currently filling the Breakfast slot on 2HD. Ironically, King was also controversially dismissed just before Christmas in 2008.

Update: 3/6/10

Yesterday in the Newcastle Herald 2HD management denied that Brent Bultitude had resigned. Station manager Guy Ashford said “Bultitude was on leave to pursue business interests, as he had done in the past, and was welcome back when ready.” Does anyone believe this?

Update 4/6/10

Both Jocks Journal and RadioInfo have reported that Brent Bultitude has resigned, despite denials in the Newcastle Herald by Guy Ashford. Of course, given the history of announcers being dismissed and then returning to air when the station has no other alternatives, there is always a possibility Bultitude will be back at 2HD again.

Update 28/6/10

I have removed a series of comments from this post for legal reasons. This is not something I take lightly but some comments have made serious allegations about employees of 2HD and many of the responses have been equally sensitive. This website is intended to be a commentary on media and media management (and marketing), not a forum for personal battles. Everyone is welcome to comment on the topics here but once it gets personal and potentially slanderous I am compelled to moderate. I hope everyone understands and appreciates this.

Media watchdog bites Bill Caralis Super Radio Network after investigation

Seven months after ABC’s Media Watch program claimed that Bill Caralis was “cynically dudding his regional listeners” for not meeting their local content obligations under the Broadcasting Services Act, the media watchdog ACMA has agreed after releasing the findings of its investigation of the network.

In a ACMA report into 2HC Coffs Harbour, 2EL Orange and 2PM Kempsey, they were found to have failed to meet the minimum three hours requirement.

2HC and 2PM were found to have broadcast approximately five minutes of local content respectively on September 8 – the sample business day ACMA used in its investigation – while 2EL broadcast approximately 46 minutes.

The Bill Caralis owned stations have been ordered to report periodically to the AMCA detailing how they are meeting their local content requirements and to implement training for employees so as to meet broadcast requirements.

Read the full ACMA release here

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

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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