This time last year Guy Ashford, the NEWFM & 2HD general manager, proudly proclaimed “that we’ve bounced back and the tides are changing,” in reference to a small lift for NEWFM off its lowest ratings ever.
He told the Newcastle Herald: “NEWFM did lose its way but it’s back on track, and it’s going to offer NXFM some serious competition. Within 24 months we’ll be on an even playing field with NX.”
This seemed a bold claim, even if it was meant to be a morale booster for the troops.
Ashford had just been installed as the new supremo at Sandgate and had apparently promised owner Bill Caralis a significant turnaround in ratings and revenue for 2HD and NEWFM. On this site, we went to great lengths to spell out the challenges Ashford would face in achieving these ambitions. We strongly doubted it would happen any time soon.
Twelve months later we have the corresponding Newcastle Radio Survey results and the picture is not a good one for NEWFM & 2HD.
NEWFM is back down to its historical low-point of 5.6, having fallen in both surveys so far this year. Its breakfast show, headed by Program Director Steve St John, has plumbed new depths by falling to 4.1. This is the lowest breakfast ratings ever for NEWFM. In fact, NEWFM has gone down in every shift except evenings.
NXFM has more listeners (51,000) for its Evening program than NEWFM has (37,000) for its Breakfast show.
So much for an even playing field in 24 months. With 12 months left NEWFM requires a bigger comeback than Lazurus.
However ,the greater concern would be 2HD which has always been the bigger revenue and ratings winner of the Sandgate partnership. 2HD started 2008 with a 15.6 share. Five surveys later 2HD have slumped to a 13.5 share. Its a slight lift from Survey 1 2009, but the overall trend has been down for several years now.
2HD Breakfast has fallen to 13.4 share and is now a distant third in the ratings.
The cumulative figures are just as traumatic. NEWFM & 2HD’s combined audience is still 14,000 listeners less than NXFM’s alone. ABC1233 has more listeners than each of the Sandgate stations.
Meanwhile, KOFM & NXFM continue on their merry way totally dominating the ratings. NXFM has an incredible cumulative audience of 187,000 listeners and a 21.5 share, while KOFM has 141,000 listeners and a 17.9 share. They own the 10-17, 18-24, 25-39 and 40-54 demographics. Daylight is second.
The spin coming out of Sandgate is that they are =#1 for Mornings with Steve Price and #1 for evenings with Graeme Gilbert on 2HD and that both stations have risen in cumulative audience. The reality though is that both are trending downwards and have been for some time.
The gulf between Sandgate and Charlestown has never been wider.
Newcastle Radio Survey Results 2/2009 – Source Nielsen Media Research
Station Overall (Last) Breakfast Cumulative
KOFM 17.9 (17.4) 20.5 (19.1) 141000
NXFM 21.5 (20.4) 22.0 (20.2) 187000
2HD 13.5 (13.2) 13.4 (14.1) 88000
NEWFM 5.6 (5.8) 4.1 (4.6) 85000
1233 ABC 10.0 (11.3) 11.6 (13.5) 89000