When Covid’s gone, will talk linger on? | radioinfo

When Covid’s gone, will talk linger on?

Friday 11 December, 2020
Clockwise from top left) Dave Cameron SCA, Greg Byrnes Nine, Paul Jackson Nova Entertainment, Duncan Campbell ARN
“There won't be a new normal. The new norm will be the old norm. People will migrate back to what they know and feel comfortable with,” says ARN’s Duncan Campbell.
radioinfo asked four of Australia’s top content chiefs about what listeners might want to hear on radio in a post Covid era – hopefully, starting early to mid next year.
Nova Entertainment’s Paul Jackson had this to say, “I think, for a lot of people, there's going to be some sort of normality to return to. Whether that means they can go holidaying around Australia in the next year or so and just get out and about a bit more. People want to get back to doing public concerts and live events and things like that. And obviously, we’re very keen for that to happen too, at the right time. And I think, when you compare (the numbers) in the coming year with the previous year's radio listening figures, that might actually be higher, not lower.”
SCA’s Dave Cameron told us: "Covid, has delivered audiences an opportunity to go and get their favourite shows on demand - in the last six months, we've seen the growth in our radio podcast numbers. But I think Breakfast shows (along with) in-car listening, will return. 
"The other thing that will happen is that that there will be some sort of a demand for light entertainment and comedy again next year.
"Everyone's exhausted by the dark depths of 2020 and the difficulty that it's brought and how news-hungry this year's been. And I think we'll see a return to people wanting to be entertained and have a laugh again and not crave the news and the Covid numbers every day.
"I think content is going to be led by a bit of escapism again - people just wanting a bit of a break. We're calling 2021 2020FUN.”

Paul Jackson feels that “feel-good” music will make a come-back. “If anything, I think music - especially if you're playing that feel - good music card - is very relevant for people who want to put the radio on and want just to escape things and have a sing along.” 

But over at Nine Radio, whose AM talk stations 2GB and 3AW continue to dominate Sydney and Melbourne, Greg Byrnes disagrees with his FM music counterparts. “I think it's a golden age for us in talk. Just getting back to what radio does best: live, local, companionship, what's happening in news, sport, weather and traffic.”
The expectation among some industry observers was that GB and AW would have shed a significant slice of their pandemic listeners by last Tuesday’s Survey 8, now that Covid restrictions have eased and the U.S. elections are over. 

Many expected Ben Fordham, who took over from Alan Jones in Breakfast on 2GB, to have fallen sharply by now. Boosted by his victory lap, Jones departed GB in April posting a final Survey result of 17.9 in Breakfast which was at the high end of the scale, even by his lofty standards. 
After Surveys 3, 4 and 5 had been abandoned, Fordham’s first outing in Survey 6 netted him a 17.3 share, beating even the wildest expectations of Nine Radio’s management. Survey 7 saw a -1.2 drop – which might be worrisome for a Breakfast show on a 7.0 or 8.0 share but not so much when you are still left with a 16.1 share… 5.4 ahead of your nearest rival.
Nonetheless, that two survey trend would suggest that the man who 'replaced Bradman at the crease' would likely lose more audience share by Survey 8. Instead, he went up to a 17.1 share and increased his cumulative audience 18,000 to boot.
“It's always been a very strong breakfast show (on 2GB),” says Duncan Campbell, “So, for him to maintain the audience is a very positive thing. I don't know how much of that is Covid related, though.” 
"A lot of people have sampled us this this year," says Greg Byrnes. "And I'm fairly confident that they like what they hear. This time last year, 3AW (Breakfast) Survey 8, was a 20 share, which you would take any day of the week. And we throw that number out like it's a bit blasé in relation to 3AW.
"But today (with Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft) it’s a 26. I think it's a golden age for us in talk.

Peter Saxon



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