Mar 19·edited Mar 19

The RN of 15-20 years ago often sounded to me like the sort of network where it would be more cost efficient to send recordings of the programmes directly to the listeners than broadcast them, so niche was the content. Now that Podcasting effectively does that, I'm not surprised that the broadcast audience figures are dropping. Who's going to make an appointment to listen to their favourite/relevant shows (and then hang around for the flagship shows) when they can listen to what they actually want to hear whenever they like?

I'm also not sure about the comparisons of RN to the BBC, and Radio 4 in particular. The political federation of Australia, along with the geography and the history of broadcasting here, mean that you can't do a direct comparison (just as you can't between ABC Local Radio and BBC Local Radio in the UK, which is also going through a period of decline).

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Quite an interesting analysis Tim, particularly the data comparisons made.

In particular I found that "I’m going to stress that number - across the five capital cities 17m Australians are estimated to be tuning in to the radio at some point each week. And only 466,000 of them are listening to RN, even once, just for eight minutes."

Now THAT is some achievement. The ABS has the sum of the five 'Greater' capital cities (e.g. Sydney includes Newcastle) as 16,179, 072 in the 2021 Census and their latest estimate is now 16,398,470. Close to your 17m, but no cigar.

In fact the GFK reports provide the 'Potential' for each of the five capital cities and in Survey 1 they total 14,861,000. That is the MAXIMUM if everyone in all markets listen to radio at least once for at least eight minutes in the survey period. They also report the Cume, and that totals across the five markets at 13,729 (92.4% of the Potential).

But why are the data much lower than the Census (your roughly "17m)?

Because CRA only measures 10+ and in the five capital cities ABS' count is 3,049,955 are under 10.

How about we settle that it should read "across the five capital cities 14m Australians are estimated to be tuning in to the radio at some point each week."?


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I think it's quite unfair to compare Karvelas' time on air to Kelly period from 2020 onwards. It's well known that talk and harder news programs/stations' audiences increased significantly during the first couple of covid years. Your analysis continues to also miss the key point, for RN it's not about audience size but *who* the audience is. RN Breakfast will truly be on its knees when it's no longer the show MPs, business leaders and other highly influential people turn into each day. I've seen nothing to suggest that's no longer happening. I'd also wager that the people enticed to work in commercial radio could not me more different from those wanting to work at RN.

The main issues with RN are twofold, it is as you say, a Frankenstein of a channel with no-one really curating it. It should either be entirely handed over to ABC News (which under this news director would be a disaster) or a channel controller appointed with the resources to move it away from a cheap broadcast platform for podcasts already in the can.

RN also needs to be better promoted across ABC platforms and on billboards, papers, etc. There should be a strap to listen into RN Breakfast at the top of the ABC News homepage each morning. Its interviews and other content should be weaved into ABC News and other programming throughout the day with more of "as first heard on ABC Radio National" intros. There also needs to be a decent ad campaign put behind RN Breakfast and Drive as the two flagship programs. PK should be on the sides of trams and buses in Sydney in Melbourne.

RN's content schedule/programs continues to lack energy and relevance. It is people in cardigans trying to be cool and making a real mess of it. They need to go back to their strengths - ie more things like the Health and Law Report which can then spread onto other ABC platforms and gives RN, and the ABC, a real point of difference. The Media Report should be brought back and there needs to be greater investment on programs like Blueprint for Living. R4 has had the Food Programme running for decades - nothing like it on RN. People are obsessed with food nowadays and it's an easy and cheap way for the ABC to reach into the suburbs too.

Unfortunately, RN will always play second fiddle to ABC Local Radio, especially the breakfast, mornings and drive slots. It's not a simple as R4 Today which gets the full resources of the beeb.

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RN is much the same station it has been for the last 20 years at least, though now it's content skews younger. Life Matters is an important live (Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart time) part of their mornings.

A big difference between before and now is the popularity of podcasts. Before, few radio stations broadcast the sorts of content now listened to in podcasts. There was RN, and some programs on community radio. Now, there are thousands of sources of similar programming, and people have worked out it suits them to listen to them.

It seems silly to judge RN without taking into account the people who listen to it via podcasts. Do many people listen to RN podcasts? We find out in May.

Another factor is the greater number of white colour workers working from home. If one of them usually only listens to RN as part of their commute, they will have become a lost listener.

(Also Newsradio is hardly all rip-and-read. They do a great job of doing their own interviews as well as using material from across the ABC.)

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