SCA on ARN: "pot calling the kettle black"

By Sarah Homewood and Rachael Micallef | 2 June 2015

Southern Cross Austereo's (SCA) Guy Dobson has hit out at comments by Australian Radio Network (ARN) CEO Ciaran Davis suggesting Hamish and Andy won't be a “silver bullet” for the network, calling it a case of “pot calling the kettle black”.

Dobson, who was installed as executive director metropolitan operations at the close of last year, said that Hamish and Andy are “phase two” of a consistent strategy to reinvigorate its Sydney Hit 104.1 station, and any suggestion by rival networks that it is banking on the one show is ironic.

ARN signed former SCA breakfast show, Kyle and Jackie O, to its network at the end of 2013.

“They've just poached a show- that to me isn't a strategy, that's putting all of your eggs in one basket,” Dobson said. “We're doing our own thing, and we're doing things in our own times.”

“So keep on saying those kinds of phrases and idioms, it just makes Hamish and Andy hungrier to be that silver bullet – them's fighting words.”

Hamish and Andy's show will return in June, with SCA head of content Craig Bruce saying that marketing efforts for the show will arrive “imminently”. While neither Bruce or Dobson would be drawn on detail, Dobson said promotion for the show would be a “three phase attack” with a heavy social media focus.

But Dobson also responded to criticisms that Hamish and Andy are entering a very different landscape to the last time they were on air, by saying the duo's profile made them unlike other shows in the market.

“All I can say is don't compare the current crop of drive shows. Throw 15 drive shows at Hamish and Andy – you're dealing with a once in a life time phenomenon here,” Dobson said.

“We will dominate drive.”

Are brands stronger than ratings?

While every six weeks radio ratings are front and centre, Nova's group programme director, Paul Jackson, understands their importance, however, speaking with AdNews he says that a network's brand and ideas is just as important when it comes to generating ad dollars.

“You can go granular and say here's your share book by book, but I think people are getting less hung up on that and it's more about how many listeners have you got and can you get them to me in a creative way and what can we do that’s fun and engaging to get my messages across,” Jackson said.

ARN's national content director Duncan Campbell agreed that integration is increasingly important to clients. But at the end of the day, he said “clients want results and to get results you need to have numbers.”

“I think they'll always look at ratings first and foremost to some degree,” Campbell said. “What is becoming increasingly important is the ability for networks to present to clients strong talent and when you look around the network, ARN has some of the strongest talent in the country in all markets we operate in and then the ability to integrate that talent into promotions.”

Campbell said he has seen more clients interested in network buys rather than isolated stations buys, which is one of the benefits of having the national Kiss network.

When it comes to Survey Three, Campbell said the highlight for ARN was Hughsey and Kate winning the drive race in Sydney after only three surveys.

“When they came on day one the show was very strong and they've found a natural rhythm in that day part,” Campbell said. “We always had a feeling it was going to move and always had the belief it would become a number one show at some point. To do so in three surveys is great.”

In terms of keeping the momentum, Campbell said the show's strong content, and the fact that it is being pushed from a strong breakfast show means it will naturally keep its trajectory.

For Nova, Jackson is happy with how the network fared, however he said that in the Sydney market, “we have yoyoed a bit this year, we've just got to yoyo a bit less.”

He also spoke to the dethroning of Kate, Tim and Marty in the race for number one in the hotly contested drive slot. Jackson said that he hopes the trio will fare better in the next survey.
“This happens really along the way, they've done one great book after another and done consistently well for a long time now,” he said.

“They're still doing well in a couple of our markets and in three they took a bit of a hit. We'll keep working on the show in places where we can do better and hopefully come back stronger in the next book.”

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