2012: The year in radio

2012: The year in radio

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) picked up nearly half of the available silverware at this year’s Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs), including Best Networked Program for 2DayFM’s Kyle and Jackie O show. But the Australian Radio Network’s Jonesy and Amanda on WSFM took home the top gong of best on-air team. Best Current Affairs Presenter went to 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

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Struggling Melbourne station MTR went into administration. The decision came after joint venture partner Macquarie Radio Network refused to continue funding it and called in its debts.

Southern Cross Austereo’s appeal to the media authority failed with a second licence condition imposed on its radio station 2DayFM and radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands. The decency condition was later narrowed to only shows hosted by shock jock Sandilands.

SCA promoted national sales director Jeremy Simpson to the role of Sydney general manager, taking the reins of stations 2DayFM and TripleM.

In March, SCA reported flat earnings and revenue but a solid profit on the back of the merger of the two radio businesses in 2011. For the six months ending December 2011, underlying revenues were $364.1m, which were 2.7% down on a like-for-like basis. Underlying earnings before interest, tax and depreciation were flat on a like- for-like basis.

Scott McCullough joined SCA as radio agency sales director for Melbourne from rival Australian Radio Network. SCA promoted Cathy Thomas to the role of general manager, Melbourne.

In June, The Today Network moved one-monthold show Mamamia Today, a spin-off of Mia Freedman’s Mamamia.com.au, to the 3pm to 4pm slot to try to attract more advertisers.

Macquarie Radio Network appointed CFO Rob Loewenthal as managing director, while John Singleton’s son Jack will join the board. Top-rating drive time presenter Derryn Hinch was given the flick by Melbourne’s 3AW, with Tom Elliot named as his replacement. Rules to tackle cash-for-comment scandals came into force after Macquarie Radio Network and talkback station 2GB lost a court battle, forcing them to reveal sponsors.

MRN and Fairfax Radio Network partnered to deliver a live national broadcast of the London Olympics across 64 stations throughout regional and metropolitan Australia.

MRN reported a 62% drop in net profit, down to $2.3m for the year ending June 30, with costs and operating losses associated with the sale of its MTR stake and unsuccessful Fairfax Radio bid affecting results. Underlying net profit, not including those costs and the purchase of Smart Regional Network, dropped 18% to $8.8m.

MRN halted advertising on its top rating Alan Jones breakfast show for one week after two social media campaigns saw advertisers on the 2GB program bombarded with messages and calls to boycott Jones. The furore erupted after Jones said at a Sydney University Liberal Club function that the Prime Minister’s father had “died of shame”.

Lachlan Murdoch took control of DMG Radio Australia, buying the remaining 50% stake he did not already own from Daily Mail and General Trust. DMG Radio Australia also entered the group buying market with getinquick.com.au. Adshel executive Peter Charlton was snaffled by DMG Radio as group sales director.

In May, DMG rebranded struggling stations 95.3 and 91.5 into adult contemporary and easy listening music stations, smoothfm. DMG supported the launch with a “million dollar” marketing blitz featuring Michael Buble and said the positioning would exploit a “unique opportunity” in the local radio market. DMG also partnered with digital music streaming service Rdio in a bid to increase the network’s footprint. Nova, owned by DMG, launched a pop-up digital radio station – dubbed Maroon Radio – dedicated to the NRL in the lead-up to the State of Origin.

In July, CRA lobbied all state premiers to increase government ad spend in regional areas to 15%, following the Victorian Government’s decision to up regional expenditure through the Victorian Regional Communication policy. In May, CRA launched the Radio Connects website, featuring case studies of best practice ad campaigns to help media agencies and advertisers navigate the medium.

Australian Radio Network ramped up its digital radio efforts and launched multiple new digital stations, including a station for American music festival iHeart Radio Music Festival, Mix 90s and Chemist Warehouse Remix. The network went on to launch another pop-up digital station for SA Health to support one of its campaigns.

ARN snatched APN News & Media’s Kate Beddoe to take on the national digital director role with Beddoe to oversee the development and implementation of the company’s strategy across web, mobile, and social. It also hired Linda Worthington as national trading director. In October, ARN announced it would launch an online music streaming and radio aggregating service called iHeartRadio early next year. The service boasts 115 million listening hours per month in the US and 50 million monthly unique users. ARN said the platform will offer the market fresh advertising opportunities.

 

Joan Warner, chief executive officer, Commerical Radio Australia

"The past 12 months has seen increasingly difficult trading conditions, however radio has continued to perform well in a very competitive marketplace. Audience figures remain solid and revenue figures remain relatively stable. Radio has performed well, maintaining a solid revenue base in what has been a progressively volatile media market. Commercial radio has retained high audience levels throughout 2012, with nearly 80% of all Australians listening to commercial radio in an average week.

Digital radio continues to be an outstanding success with nearly one in ten Australian households having a digital radio and PwC forecasting household penetration levels of 16% by December 2013 and 18% by June 2014.

Ensuring digital radio is available to regional markets is a priority.

Maintaining radio as top of mind for advertisers also continues to be crucial. To help promote the effectiveness of radio as an advertising medium, the industry commissioned research by Colmar Brunton, which showed people are six times more likely to go to an advertiser’s website if they have heard the advertisement on radio. This information formed the basis of an ongoing ad campaign to promote radio to advertisers.

To further help advertisers best use radio, the industry launched a new online case study website, called Radio Connects. The website aims to be a must-have resource for advertisers and media agencies on the best use of commercial radio advertising.

Despite the economic global challenges, radio remains a dynamic and much-used medium. Given radio’s capacity to work alone or in perfect partnership cross-platform and with other media, radio’s prospects remain bright with even more exciting opportunities for growth and innovation in the future. "