​2014 is going to be the year of DMG and ARN | radioinfo

​2014 is going to be the year of DMG and ARN

Monday 02 December, 2013
Duncan Campbell

Duncan Campbell tells Peter Saxon why. 

Ever since Kyle and Jackie O announced they were leaving 2Day FM, the fact that they were going to ARN has been the best kept non-secret that most pundits found difficult to believe – including SCA’s Head of Content Craig Bruce who’d admonished us, ‘not to believe everything we read in the newspapers.’ DMG’s Paul Jackson said he’d be ‘massively surprised’ if that were to occur.

Well, occur it has.

Craig Bruce also said at the time “Mix would have to change format to take on Kyle and Jack and I don’t think that Sydney is big enough for three top 40 radio stations. They’d probably have to change their brand and they’d probably have to change their client list.”

Looks like that’s going to occur too. And, if Sydney isn’t big enough for three top 40 stations, then which will be the first to go?

 
Last Friday after the big move was confirmed, 2GB Program Director, David Kidd who before joining the talk juggernaut spent most of his career programming and researching music stations, summed it up this way:
 
I think it's a great move by ARN. Kyle & Jackie O are an awesome force in the FM breakfast battle and they will definitely have a positive impact on 106.5's share.
 
The Mix brand has struggled to establish a position in the market. If they do re-brand as Kiis and jettison whatever negative perceptions are associated with Mix then, combined with Kyle & Jackie O, I believe it's a very sound strategy with plenty of upside.
 
Of course the question many people have been asking is, can Sydney support three CHR stations? Currently Mix, 2Day and Nova share around 23% of listening. Will one station shift? Will Smooth pick up some disenfranchised Mix listeners? Will 106.5, 2Day and Nova all hover around the 7.5% mark? Let's revisit these questions at the end of 2014!
 
Another unknown factor in the equation is the replacement show on 2Day. There's a great depth of talent in the programming department at SCA so I am sure whatever they put together will be well crafted albeit new and needing time to develop.
 
ARN Sydney now has two excellent breakfast shows in Jonesy & Amanda and Kyle & Jackie O. The FM battle is going to be very interesting in 2014.

ARN’s Duncan Campbell was, like the proverbial cat which got the cream, in ebullient mood when we spoke to him to discuss the future.

radioinfo: When did the idea of getting Kyle and Jackie O to ARN first pop into your head?

Campbell: I think when they first announced they were coming off the air at 2Day was when it all started to roll and once they made the announcement was when we first started talking to them. Its been pretty much a very fast moving train since then.

radioinfo: Whose idea was it, yours or CEO Ciaran Davis’?

Campbell: It’s always been ARN’s ambition to be the number one network and the reality is that to do that, you’ve got to have strong breakfast shows. You’ve got to have winning breakfast shows. So when the opportunity presented itself there wasn’t much discussion about it. It was like, ‘let’s go and see whether these guys are interested.’

radioinfo: Were you surprised that K & J couldn’t come to an agreement with SCA and they let them go?

Campbell: It was a huge surprise. In fact, I think that SCA are probably surprised as well.  But the facts are that I don’t think that Kyle and Jack were as happy as they could have been over there. We talked about the opportunities that were available at ARN and they were very keen to talk to us about those.

radioinfo: When you finally signed the deal with them, did you get the sense that this could be history repeating with a similar outcome as when 2GB enticed Alan Jones away from 2UE?

Campbell: Well we certainly hope it will be. Absolutely! We expect it to be history repeating itself. We do a lot of research in the market and the key to 2Day-FM’s success is that breakfast show. There’s no reason, given their popularity, that the audience won’t move across.

radioinfo: And what if they don’t? To this day only Alan Jones and John Laws have succeeded in getting listeners to follow them from one station to another. Even the great Doug Mulray

Campbell: I know people make these comments, but the Doug Mulray experience was very different. He was at the tail end if his success. He’d come and gone at least once or twice out of MMM and he moved to WSFM drive at a time when he was promised a re-launch of the radio station under Nigel Milan which never happened. So he was left stranded on the classic hits format when that wasn’t supposed to be the case.

There’s a history there which people tend to ignore and they’re comparing apples and oranges. What we’re doing with Kyle and Jackie O has never happened on FM in this country at all as far as I’m
aware.

radioinfo: Nonetheless, Kyle carries a fair amount of baggage with him. Was there any discussion about his relationship with the ACMA?

Campbell: There was a lot of talk about that. There was a lot of talk about the incidents in the past. But I think they are incidents that are well into the past now. I mean, they haven’t had any issues at all in the past two years and I think the image of Kyle has evolved. We’re very relaxed about the show and how it sounds and where it is at the moment.

radioinfo: Will the program be less edgy on 106.5 than it was at 104.1?

Campbell: No, we’re buying the Kyle and Jackie O show. We won’t be changing the show. We are not going to start playing around with a highly successful formula.

radioinfo: The news of Kyle and Jackie O moving to ARN was leaked last week when a passer-by took photos of the marketing collateral through your creative agency’s window from the street. Did that leak have any affect on the announcement at all?

Campbell: No, none whatsoever.

radioinfo: Within radio circles the leak spawned a number of conspiracy theories. One camp believes it was a massive stuff up on the agency’s part. Another believes it was entirely orchestrated in the hope it would go viral and generate some water cooler talk.  Which was it?

Campbell: I think it’s always good to let some of those conspiracy theories continue to grow and evolve as they do. It’s too early to dispel any of those rumours at this point.

radioinfo: There’s been no kick in the pants for the agency?

Campbell: No we’re still working closely with the agency and the relationship is as strong as ever.

radioinfo: Was there at least a suggestion that with the fees they charge ARN, they could perhaps invest in some curtains?

Campbell: Well, it’s a blind actually, but I guess they could bolt the blind down a bit firmer in future.

radioinfo: When the move to ARN was first mooted in the media, some of your competitors were quite incredulous. DMG’s Paul Jackson was quoted as saying, “If it holds true that Kyle and Jackie O are going to MIX, that would surprise me massively. It’s totally the wrong fit for them. It would confuse MIX listeners. It would confuse heritage 2Day FM listeners who have listened to Kyle and Jackie O forever and have loyalty to them and that station. It’s a bit like watching your friends breaking up after ten years - you don’t know which side to take.”

What’s your response to that?

Campbell: I think Paul was probably making some of those comments based on his own assumptions. Obviously some of those assumptions have been proven incorrect. For example, it’s not going to be MIX they’re going to, but a whole new radio station. And it’s not friends breaking up because these two are still together and they’ll be together on 106.5.

From a listener’s perspective they’re just moving house. They’re just moving across the road and they’re still in Sydney and you can still hear them. You just have to change the location on the dial, that’s all.

I think that there’s a lot of comment out there and a lot of criticisms and a lot of assumptions being made which are simply inaccurate.

I think people have underestimated ARN up until this point. But people who know me and people who know Ciaran know that we would have gone about this in a very methodical way and this isn’t a kneejerk reaction or an impulse. It’s well thought out and its been well planned so we’ve been working very hard over the last few weeks to insure that what we put in place to support these guys is what they will need to be successful.

radioinfo: Paul Jackson also went on to say about 2Day, “My view is that without Kyle and Jackie O the 2Day brand isn’t particularly strong. They are the brand, in fact. Without them they’ve got a lot of uphill struggling ahead of them.” Do you agree with that?

Campbell: Yes, I agree 100 per cent with that.
2Day-FM is held up by that one breakfast show and that means that station is under some real risk next year when that show is not there. It doesn’t mean that they can’t recover from it but its going to be a difficult journey.

You wouldn’t want to put yourself in a position where you have to be build a new breakfast show in Melbourne and a new breakfast show in Sydney and also a national Drive show. I mean, Craig Bruce has an awful amount of ability but even he wouldn’t want to put himself in that position if he could avoid it.

radioinfo: It seems that there’ll now be three FM stations, yours, NOVA and 2Day fighting for the same under 40’s audience, won’t there? Is there room for that?

Campbell: We haven’t discussed the format of the new station yet and we won’t be doing that till we launch it.

radioinfo: Nonetheless, you’ve just stated that K&J aren’t coming to MIX but a brand new station and we’ve already seen the leaked artwork that revolves around the KiiS brand. So, what’s stopping you from announcing the fact now that the station will be called KiiS in 2014?

Campbell: Today was about Kyle and Jackie O joining ARN. I think that’s a huge coup for us as a company and we’ll be announcing what’s happening with the station in coming weeks.

radioinfo: Right. Could it be that you won’t be playing in that pool? That you won’t be going up against Fitzy and Wippa and whoever 2Day replace K &J with?

Campbell: It depends what you mean by going up against Fitzy and Wippa or whatever SCA put on. The reality is we won’t be discussing the format until we launch it. We’ll be announcing the name of the station in the next few weeks.

radioinfo: I guess what I’m trying to find out is whether the station and the music is going younger?

Campbell: Look, it’ll be the Kyle and Jackie O show and we’ll provide them with the music platform necessary for the station to maximize its audience potential.

radioinfo: Will there be any changes to the MIX brand in Melbourne?

Campbell: No changes in Melbourne. We’ve signed Chrissie Swan and Jane Hall to next year and Mix 101.1 will still be the name of the station in 2014

radioinfo: What then is your prediction for 2014?

Campbell: My prediction for 2014 is that it is going to be the year of DMG and ARN. I think we’ve seen in 2013 a changing of the guard and I think that Paul has done a very good job with DMG. I’ve got some views on whether smoothfm will be as strong as it is. It’s had a very successful run so far and that’s not going to finish, but I still maintain its overinflated in Sydney. But time will tell. The NOVA brand is very strong.

ARN has had an incredible three years . We’ve had great successes. 2WS, except for the last couple of books, if you look at the average over the last couple of years has had one of the most successful years ever. Jonesy and Amanda have had one of their most successful years ever.

We’ve had 97.3 Brisbane with the most successful year in the history of the radio station. Mix 102.3 (Adelaide) rebounded and is very, very strong. GOLD had a great year and Mix101.1 has performed okay and has a great amount of potential.

I think all those stations still have a lot of potential in them.  And if we can help the Sydney duopoly where we’ve already got a strong heritage breakfast show in Jonesy and Amanda and add the potency of  Kyle and Jackie O that means that we’re in a position next year to have the number one and number two breakfast shows in the city.

I think we’ve been underestimated to date. But I don’t expect us to be underestimated in the future.
 

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