Melbourne’s radio ratings out – no good news yet for SEN and their new lineup.

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How hard could this stuff be? Answer: hard.


As the Herald Sun reports today, SEN’s expensive line-up change appears yet to win over listeners. What the Herald Sun call their “divisive” and pricey line-up change is struggling to get traction.

In the first radio ratings survey of the year FOX FM returned to the top of the FM table, and 3AW retained its stranglehold on the AM dial.

But SEN dropped by 0.7 points across Monday to Friday despite what the Herald Sun called a “series of high-profile and controversial hiring and firings over the summer” under the new ownership of Craig Hutchison’s Crocmedia.

Respected sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley’s morning spot — replacing Kevin Bartlett, who has moved to drive — actually dropped 1.3 points.

New drive hosts Bartlett and Dr Turf — aka John Rothfield — recorded a smaller drop of 0.4 points in the wake of the sacking of drive duo David Schwarz and Mark Allen.

Gerard Whateley is SEN’s new morning host. Picture: Stephen Harman

The most significant drop came in the afternoon slot, with Andy Maher’s program dropping to a poor 2.1, less than half of the audience of traditionally niche rating ABC station JJJ.

Fox FM has jumped to the number one FM spot — up 2.7 points, with breakfast program hosted by Fifi Box, Brendan Fevola and Byron Cooke also claiming the top FM brekky spot.

KIIS’s new breakfast crew of New Zealand duo Polly “PJ” Harding and Jase Hawkins dropped 1.2 after replacing Matt Tilley and Meshel Laurie, with KIIS recording lower audience numbers across all timeslots.  They suffered it’s most a drop in the evening slot and the Drive slot didn’t perform well following the move of Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek to FOX.  What’s more, Hughesy and Kate snared the top FM spot after moving across to fill the void left by Hamish and Andy.

Gold FM retained a strong breakfast audience despite sacking high-profile duo Lehmo and Jo.

Melbourne’s top AM station once again is 3AW, who also secured the most listened-to breakfast program with Ross and John, and Drive hosted by Tom Elliott. But 3AW has taken a hit on weekends — which insiders apparently put down to the station’s cricket commitments, which sources say are unlikely to be renewed.

ABC breakfast suffered a drop of 2.9 under new hosts Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah following the sudden departure of Red Symons after 15 years.

The other good news on the FM dial was Triple M’s Drive pair of Mick Molloy and Jane Kennedy scored a 2.2 point boost.

MOPAt MOP, we wish the new line up at SEN well, but would hazard a guess that the station needs to spend more cold hard cash on promoting its new line up.

Whether or not they have pockets deep enough to do so after the money spent to secure the services of their on air hosts is less certain.

As a general point “Sport Radio” in Australia is still a long way behind overseas in its acceptance in the market in Australia, unlike the rampant success of stations like BBC Five Live and TalkSport in the UK, and Nashville’s the Zone (WGFX 6.8) and Detroit’s WXVT 8.9 in the USA. The role of programs like Grandstand – Whateley’s former home, of course – on the national broadcaster also muddies the waters.

There’s no doubt Australia (and Melbourne in particular) is sport mad. And there’s no doubt that changes in line up take time to gel. And there’s no doubt that Gerard Whateley is probably Australia’s leading sports broadcaster.

What we suspect is also not in doubt, though, is that SEN need to run some advertising – and some good, ballsy, attention-grabbing advertising, too – to spread the news of what’s on offer more widely. Especially when they’re up against the other media juggernauts that dominate our airwaves.


Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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