My Oz radio predictions
Posted January 8th, 2011 by debritz
1. More job casualties, on air and behind the scenes, at Australian radio stations, with big names almost certainly among them. In Brisbane, I think we'll see changes or programming tweaks at Fairfax (4BC and 4BH), Austereo (Triple M and B105), and ARN (4KQ and 97.3FM).
2. As part of that, I foresee the very dramatic early to mid-year departure of more than one announcer or team who's failed to live up to expectations.
3. I also see sweeping management changes at at least one Brisbane station when the big bosses down south finally start paying attention.
4. The drive-time slot will become more competitive following the departure of Austereo's Hamish and Andy. It will take some time (if ever) before there's a clear winner, but the trend towards national programs in this shift will continue. Within a decade, breakfast is likely to be the only "local" shift on some metro stations (as is already the case in the bush). Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if there's an experiment with a national breakfast show, if not in 2011, then in the next couple of years.
5. In the radio ratings, the top end and bottom end of the ladder will become more crowded, with a clear division emerging between the winners and the also-rans. In Brisbane, this could mean one or two commercial stations dipping well below the current minimum of 6-7 points. (This is not something I want to see, but I really think it will happen.)
6. Nationally, with some prominent exceptions, I see the decline of personality-based radio. Many smaller stations will concentrate much more on music programming than on big-name talent.
7. In Brisbane, the ABC will be the one to watch. Spencer Howson will continue his winning ways in breakfast on 612ABC (and the commercial stations will continue to pretend he doesn't exist). It will also be a good year for Triple J, which will build on last year's big finish, and overtake at least one of the struggling commercial tailenders.
8. Among the commercial stations, Nova 106.9 will have a good year in breakfast, with the team of Meshel, Marty and Tim consolidating its gains from 2010. At B105, breakfast stars Labby and Stav may benefit from the increased exposure afforded by their new afternoon gig on digital TV channel Eleven, but that won't necessarily translate into radio ratings. As Eddie McGuire has discovered in Melbourne, success in one medium doesn't necessarily guarantee success in another - and fame can be fickle wherever you find it. While B105 is in a strong position, there were signs of audience leakage last year and that will have to be addressed. Triple M will also face a struggle to remain competitive in Brisbane - but nowhere near the problems it is facing in Sydney and Melbourne. If the addition of Mick Molloy to the mix in Melbourne and Sydney doesn't work, the whole Triple M brand could be scrapped to allow either for stations with their own callsigns under a loose national umbrella, or an entirely new network concept.
9. 2011 won't quite be the year of digital radio, but all the networks will need to focus on their multichannel offerings to have things right for when DAB+ gains real traction. The acceptance of the new TV channels will help pave the way, and make advertisers more receptive. Still, the existing analogue stations will continue to be the main game for a long time.
10. Only half of these predicitions will come true.