Looking at the plethora of commercial breakfast radio shows on offer around our fair nation, it appears only one of them – Alan Jones on 2GB – is broadcast in more than one state.
Why is this? Many of the commercial drive and evening radio shows are national – SCA’s Hamish & Andy, ARN’s Hughesy & Kate and NOVA Entertainment’s Kate, Tim & Marty – but brekkie shows in FM are segmented to their own region.
It’s down to the fact people want local news when they wake up, said Paul Jackson, group programme director at NOVA Entertainment. If the radio shows are talking about State of Origin in the mornings, no one in Adelaide or Perth would really care, you’ve sliced out half your audience already if it was a national breakfast show.
“If you’re not local at breakfast time, you can’t really be part of the fabric of the city and reflective of what’s going on,” he said.
Echoed by Gemma Fordham, head of content for Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network, she said people listen to brekkie and drive shows for different reasons.
“My personal opinion is that local is very important and starting the day knowing what’s happening in your local city is, I believe, crucial for our audience,” she told B&T. “We obviously also have a large regional component to our business and being local is paramount.”
That being said, by the afternoon people are okay to hear general banter and comedy rather than hard news and more local matters, added NOVA’s Jackson. “If you listen to the drive shows here, a lot of them are structured quite similarly – you’re listening to people bantering. At drive time, we feel more tired, we know what’s going on in news across everything and all the drive shows allow you to passively relate and enjoy the banter.”
That’s not to say you couldn’t do a local show at drive time, he said, but the shows NOVA offers are right to be national. Flipping that, Jackson said NOVA would never have a national breakfast radio show – why would we change something that’s not broken? “Nothing would ever be gained from it, really.”
What’s interesting to note is Southern Cross Austereo’s Sydney breakfast show Rove & Sam. While the show has gotten a lot of media coverage given it has had relatively low ratings with incremental increases over the past two surveys, in April this year SCA started broadcasting the best bits from the brekkie show at 7pm at night, straight after drive show Hamish & Andy.
At the time, Fordham said it was because of the popularity of the brekkie podcasts that saw others out of Sydney wanted to listen.
“The decision to spread the love of Rove & Sam, across the country, is due to the positive response the breakfast show is receiving,” she said in a statement.
“Rove & Sam is one of our top podcasts weekly, giving us strong evidence that markets outside of Sydney are keen to be part of this show. We are delighted to now deliver this great audio content nation-wide, weeknights from 7-8pm on 54 stations in the Hit Network.”
In talkback radio however on the commercial AM stations, Jackson said he would be less against it being national, referencing veteran broadcaster Alan Jones, whose brekkie show on Macquarie Media’s 2GB is broadcast in both Sydney and Brisbane.
“I think you’ve got a good argument there for having some national shows…and I think Alan Jones around the country would be absolutely fine.”
But still, it comes down niche markets – and AM and FM markets are fundamentally different.