Radio ratings: cheers and tears

Radio ratings: cheers and tears

Posted February 25th, 2010 by debritz

While the champagne corks have been popping at B105 and 612ABC, they'll be scratching their heads at 4BC and Nova 106.9 today. One Twitterer has already called 612's Spencer Howson (pictured) and B105's Stav Davidson the kings of Brisbane radio. Certainly, their shows tied for No. 1 in the important breakfast shift, pushing Nova 106.9 to third place. It's probably not entirely fair to single out Stav from his on-air colleagues, Labby and Camilla, but he has played a bigger role in the station's recent promotional and advertising activities. B105 has also reclaimed its crown as the No. 1 Brisbane station overall. In my view, this is the culmination of smart programming by the Austereo team and a few unfortunate incidents at Nova, including the decision by breakfast anchor Kip Wightman to quit and travel to the US in the middle of last year and the drink-driving arrest that tarnished the image of his colleague Ash Bradnam. But Nova is still in a strong position and has a good product and, barring any rash moves, should remain competitive. Commercial FM listeners will be the winners, as Triple M and 97.3FM are also performing strongly, the latter especially so among its preferred 25-plus female audience and with the all-important-to-advertisers grocery buyers. Meanwhile, at 4BC, they will be wondering why Brisbane's only commercial talk station has failed to replicate the runaway success of similar formats in Sydney and Melbourne. At BC stablemate 3AW, breakfast stars Ross Stevenson and John Burns scored 19 per cent of the breakfast audience, and the station was heard by 14.1% of the overall audience, rising to 27.4% in the 55-plus demographic. In Sydney, 2GB's Alan Jones was heard by 20% of breakfast-radio listeners, and the station had an overall share of 16.6% (people 10-plus). And 2GB has competition from 2UE which scooped up a further 6.7% of the breakfast audience and 5.8% overall. If one in four radio listeners are listening to commercial talk radio in Sydney, and one in five in Melbourne, why is 4BC rating just 6.7% with no commercial competition? It simply cannot be that Brisbane audiences are different. And it's certainly not because the breakfast team of Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder lack talent. It can only be that the former B105 stars are not appealing to the potential, and station-prefered, audience - listeners over 55. In fact, 612ABC is drawing away in the category, as well as leading 4BC overall. Perhaps it's that Dunn, the undisputed leader of the pack in Brisbane radio in the late 1980s and all of the 1990s, is better suited to a music station with well-timed and relevant comedy spots. He once said he should have moved from B105 to Triple M - but that decision was not his to make, and the B105 announcer who did make the jump, Ian Skippen, has had well-deserved success in appealing to the over-25 male audience with his Cage team of Emily-Jade O'Keeffe, Greg Martin and Greg Sullivan. Dunn is still a great talent, but he's a square peg in a round hole right now - and it seems unlikely he will stay on at BC in the long term if he can't dramatically reverse today's trend. And it's no secret in radio circles that at least one of his colleagues is eagerly waiting in the wings.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on the 612ABC Breakfast with Spencer Howson program, which was equal No. 1 in today's ratings.