Ratings crunching to reveal the secret radio star
Craig Huggins has been with Gold 104.3 for 30 years but nobody seems to have noticed that he's one of FM radio's biggest winners in the latest ratings
Welcome to Unmade, written in the UK while you were sleeping, midway through what feels like the industry’s final working week of the year. In less Covidy times, the typical pattern was to go hard all the way through to Christmas Eve, then assume you might not be able to reach anyone until after Australia Day. This time, I’ve spoken to very few people who plan to go beyond Friday. It’s been a loooong year!
Happy Cat Herders Day. Today’s writing soundtrack: Oscar Peterson’s Night Train. Thanks for the tip, Adam.
It’s been a week of thinking about communities.
I spent much of the first half of the week anxiously checking social media as a bush fire crept around the edge of my home base at Sisters Beach in Tasmania. It focuses the mind when you’re on friendly terms with the near neighbour whose home the firies are fighting to save. With the help of water bombing choppers, fire fighters on the ground and a change of wind direction, they succeeded. Being the first fire of the season at least means there’s no shortage of emergency resources. I’ll appreciate being back there in February all the more.
And yesterday we joined something like a million people who turned out at vaccination walk-in centres across the UK to get their boosters after an emergency TV address from the British prime minister Boris Johnson the night before. We were home from our jabs about five hours after we set out. Others faced a longer wait. Listening to the BBC talk to those patiently queuing, most were keen to emphasise they were doing it to protect their family and community, not for the widely discredited Johnson.
Radio wrapped up
Yesterday saw the eighth and final radio ratings release of the year. As tends to be the pattern at this stage of the year, there were no major changes.
In Sydney, The Kyle & Jackie O Show still dominates FM breakfast radio, and 2GB does the same in AM. Similarly, In Melbourne it’s still Christian O’Connell and 3AW.
So I decided to try to see the bigger picture.
Biggest audience by share:
While percentage audience share is the staple of ratings discussions, the actual number of people estimated to be listening is highlighted less frequently - probably because it is not included in the initial data release.
But it comes out soon afterwards, and offers an extra data point, particularly when trying to make comparisons across markets, or different timeslots.
But let’s start with percentage audience share.
The biggest market dominance in the country in any timeslot, comes in Melbourne, in the 5.30am to 9am slot occupied by Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft. The duo attract a 22.8 per cent share of the average of 759,000 people estimated to be have their radio turned on in any given 15 minutes.
That’s a little more than the 18.5 per cent share of the average 806,000 Sydney breakfast radio audience enjoyed by 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
Because Commercial Radio Australia shares the GfK data by broad timeslot, it sometimes does not match the exact timing of individual shows. For clarity, I’ll put the timeslot the GfK data covers in brackets, even when shows’ start and finish times differ to that..
Top metro shows by share:
Ross & Russell, 3AW (5.30 - 9am) - 22.8%
Ben Fordham, 2GB (5.30 - 9am) - 18.5%
Ray Hadley, 2GB (9 - noon) 18.4%
Neil Mitchell, 3AW (9 - noon) - 17.9%
Denis Walter, 3AW (7pm - midnight) - 17.6%
John Stanley, 2GB (7pm - midnight) 17.4%
Ali Clarke, ABC Adelaide (5.30am to 9am) - 17.4%
Various shows, ABC Perth (7pm to midnight) - 15.3%
Matthew Pantelis, FIVEaa Adelaide (7pm to midnight) - 15.1%
Various shows, ABC Brisbane (7pm - midnight) - 14.6%
When played out across the five metro markets, the dominance of AM talk radio becomes all the more obvious, whether commercial or ABC.
But although presenters can only win in the market they find themselves, overall audience size also matters to advertisers.
So in absolute terms of actual listeners, there could be a different market leader. But as it happens, there’s not. Stevenson and Howcroft talk to an average of 173,000 listeners in any given 15 minutes, ahead of Fordham’s 149,000.
Then there’s weekly cumulative reach - how many listeners tune in for at least 15 minutes at some point during the week.
Howcroft and Stevenson narrowly win in this measure too. Again, I’ve ranked shows across all markets and time slots, and this is where a dark horse emerges.
It turns out that Gold 104.3’s Craig Huggins deserves far more attention than he generally receives for his daytime Melbourne show. He takes the audience he inherits from Christian O’Connell and builds on it, to deliver a huge cumulative audience of just under half a million - that’s the third biggest in the country. Yet so little talked about is his timeslot that yesterday’s press release from Kiis FM’s parent company Australian Radio Network did not even mention him.
Audience cume - any timeslot
Kyle & Jackie O (5.30am to 9am), Kiis FM Sydney - 573,000
Ross & Russel (5.30 - 9am), 3AW Melbourne - 519,000
Craig Huggins (9am - noon), Gold 104.3 Melbourne - 496,000
Toni Tenaglia (noon - 4pm) Gold 104.3 Melbourne - 491,000
Sammy J (5.30am - 9am), ABC Melbourne, - 482,000
Ben Fordham (5.30am - 9am), 2GB Sydney - 479,000
Neil Mitchell (9am - noon), 3AW - 472,000
Chrissie, Sam & Browny (5.30am to 9am) Nova Melbourne - 458,000
Carrie & Tommy (4-7pm) Fox Melbourne - 444,000
Fitzy & Wippa (5.30am - 9am) Nova Sydney - 442,000
Dave Higgo Higgins (4-7pm) Gold 104.3 Melbourne - 440,000
Aaron Rich (noon - 4pm), Fox Melbourne - 439,000
Smallzy (plus first hour of Kate, Tim & Joel, noon - 4pm), Nova Sydney 434,000
WSFM Sydney (including last hour of ugly Phil, and Steve Fitton noon - 4pm), 434,000
Kiis FM Sydney (timeslot covers three shows, noon - 4pm) - 433,000
Kiis FM Sydney (final hour of Kyle & Jackie O, first two hours of Gordi Waters, 9am - noon) - 427,000
Kiis Melbourne (timeslot covers multiple shows, noon - 4pm) - 426,000
Will & Woody and K&J highlights, Kiis FM Sydney (4-7pm) - 419,000
Kate, Tim & Joel, Nova Sydney drive - 416,000
Christian O’Connell, Gold 104.3 Melbourne - 413,000
Virginia Trioli & The Conversation Hour (9am - noon), ABC Melbourne - 413,000
Byron Webb, (4-7pm) Smooth FM Sydney 413,000
Simon Diaz, Smooth FM Melbourne (noon - 4pm)- 401,000
Jonesy & Amanda (5.30am - 9am), WSFM Sydney - 400,000
Byron Webb, (4-7pm) SmoothFM Melbourne - 400,000
And even those numbers only give part of the picture.
Almost all of the networks operate local breakfast shows and national daytime and drive programming. So some presenters’ reach is much higher when added together, even if it doesn’t all come when the show is live.
There’s still more gold to be found with the numbers. Next week I’ll start digging into the performance of each individual network in this set of numbers compared to the first set of GfK data eight years ago. For one thing I’m curious about how under-represented Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit and Triple M brands are in the above rankings. I’ll be curious just how much of that is a recent phenomenon.
KPMG makes Halligan partner
Karen Halligan, director of Customer, Brand & Marketing Advisory at KPMG, who set up the consultancy’s media advisory practice in 2018, has been promoted to full partner status. Before KPMG she was MD of media agency Zenith and national commercial and operations director of Southern Cross Austereo.
The&Partnership appoints CD
Melbourne-based The&Partnership has appointed Melissa Peters as creative director for APAC. A copywriter by background, Peters has worked for agencies including DDB, CHE Proximity, Y&R, Lowe Sydney and Noisy Beast.
New boss for Drive
Nine has confirmed Simon Halfhide as CEO of its automotive brand Drive. It follows the promotion of Alex Parsons to chief digital officer for Nine in July. Nine acquired Drive through its 2018 takeover of Fairfax, and merged it with CarAdvice.com.au a year later. The competitive auto space also includes Carsales and the eBay-owned Carsguide.
New editor for Mediaweek
Trent Thomas, deputy editor of industry website Mediaweek has been promoted to editor. He succeeds James Manning who has taken on the new title of editor-in-chief. In 2019, shortly before the pandemic radically changed market conditions, Manning announced that he was looking to sell the title which he has owned for more than 20 years.
Former Mumbrella head of events Nicole McKay has taken on the new role of head of events at startup community Innovation Bay.
Quotes of the day:
“It’s fair to say that marketing might just be getting just a little bit carried away with judging, awards and recognition, and forgetting that our prize is profit and our recognition is salary.”
“Radio stations like Nova, they have this hotline, we then don’t really hear what’s happening off the back of that. I’m sure that employees both past and present have reported various things at Nova. I’m yet to see the change that has happened from those reports.”
From @Fesshole, via Twitter
“As the office manager of an advertising agency full of absolute knobs I secretly switched the coffee supply to decaf for over a year. The smugness of knowing how much shit they used to spout about the power of an espresso was the only thing that got me through the day. Wankers.”
“The holidays are considered a time for good cheer and goodwill to all, so is it really the best time for you to be disrupting people’s plans? To marketers suddenly with the urge to get a pitch going before the holidays: slow down.”
Dr Spin: Feel free to share those passwords
Dr Spin writes:
For anyone who works in the media industry and feels conflicted about undermining creator business models by borrowing passwords to streaming services, fear not. Even Netflix executives do it.
Que Minh Luu, Netflix’s director of content for Australia and New Zealand does it too, as she this week informed the Twitterati.
Time to let you get on with your Wednesday.
First though, an almost-final reminder: There are only two days left on the special end-of-year price to subscribe to Unmade’s paid tier. The normal price is $650 per year, but for the next two days I’m offering a 74 per cent discount, down to just $169 for the first year. The reason for the discount is that this gives me a year to convince you that Unmade delivers enough insights every week to be worth the full price.
Only Unmade’s paying subscribers get access to all of our analysis and podcasts. You can sign up - and support independent journalism in a heavily conflicted sector - via the button below. There will never be as big a discount again.
I’ll be awake here in the UK for a few hours yet today though. We’ll be recording the final Mumbrellacast of the year at lunchtime, Sydney time. We’ll be looking back on the year just gone.
And although there’ll still be a few more Unmades this year, I’m already leaning into Christmas. We’ve done the ice skating and Guinness (the kids did the skating, and I did the Guinness), and the tree is decorated.
Now we’re taking it up a notch. By the time you receive this, I’ll be a few hours away from seeing It’s A Wonderful Life - the third best Christmas movie of all time (after Die Hard and Gremlins) - at a cinema for the first time.
Have a great day.
Proprietor - Unmade