The battle on Melbourne’s talk radio airwaves is about to intensify. This Monday (April 19th) at 6am sees the launch of a revamp 3MP 1377 to become Melbourne Talk Radio (MTR) 1377 with Steve Price at the helm of the Pacific Star Network and Macquarie Radio Network joint venture. The station is aimed at taking away listeners from Fairfax’s talk supremo 3AW and to a lesser extent put a dent into ABC Local Radio’s 774 audience.
Is 3AW concerned? A recent visit to Melbourne revealed that the station has gone on an outdoor advertising blitz, with the faces of the station’s ratings leaders in Ross & John and Neil Mitchell. 3AW has also taken signage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. If you have been listening to 3AW you would have also noticed the use of not “Talking Melbourne 3AW” but “Melbourne’s Own 3AW”. There can be no other explanation but 3AW is reminding Melburnians that 3AW is the only talk station that matters. According to the second Neilsen radio ratings survey this year, 3AW is the only commercial AM station that matters.
3AW had a 16.5% share of the listening audience and a cumulative audience figure of 653,000 last survey. Whilst out of the main commercial daytime breakdowns 3AW led in the breakfast, morning and evening shifts. With only Fox FM’s MC and the hottest radio duo in living memory Hamish & Andy taking away top stop for 3AW throughout the day.
Among the talk stations the last survey showed the difficulty Melbourne Talk Radio face in taking audience share away from 3AW and ABC774, especially when you compare the figures between the two talk stations and 3MP (see graph below).
Latest Rating Survey
comparison between 3AW, ABC774 & 3MP – source: Nielsen Radio Ratings survey 2 – 2010
How does MTR attempt to break the stranglehold that 3AW have on the commercial talk market in Melbourne? According to Steve Price in an interview with media industry bible Mediaweek, the station has “created a business model that will be profitable. [The line up is] as much a marketing decision as it is a content decision”.
That is the content and the presenters will drive the station. Content that is good enough to take away listeners from 3AW and ABC774. Because as Mark Pejic, Chief Operating Officer of media agency MediaCom said in last Monday’s Australian Financial Reveiew, “breaking the stranglehold 3AW has in Melbourne will be very difficult, if somewhat insurmountable, in the short term. Melburnians areÂ loyalists.”
The initial schedule for MTR features Breakfasts with Steve Price, Mornings with Steve Vizard and Drive with ACA’s Martin King. Â Steve Price will be joined each mornings by Jason Akermanis, Andrew Bolt and Sam Newman.
Weekday schedule for MTR:
|Midnight – 3:30am||Jim Ball||Networked from Sydney|
|3:30am – 6am||Andrew Moore||Networked from Sydney||Last hour Melbourne only|
|6am – 10am||Steve Price||Special guests daily||7am â€“ Jason Akermanis
8am â€“ Andrew Bolt
9am â€“ Sam Newman
|10am – 1pm||Steve Vizard|
|1pm – 4pm||Chris Smith||Networked from Sydney||Last hour Melbourne only|
|4pm – 6pm||Martin King|
|6pm – 8pm||Ross Greenwood||Networked from Sydney|
|8pm – 9pm||Highlights||Featuring the best of Steve Price, Steve Vizard, 2GB’s Ray Hadley and Alan Jones|
|9pm – Midnight||Luke Grant|
source: Mediaweek Magazine (issue: 956, 12 April 2010)
Steve Price, who is also the Program Director of the new Macquaire managed MTR said to Mediaweek, “we feel there is enough revenue in the Melbourne advertising market to make 3MTR a going concern from the beginning. Ratings will come eventually, and my job is to put compelling radio to air from day one.” Â As the 2010 Metropolitan Commercial Radio Advertising Revenue figures show Melbourne’s $44.3m advertising pie for radio broadcasters is just a touch shy of Sydney’s $47.5m advertising pie for the March quarter.
However advertisers will only come if the listeners are there. Whilst the majority of shifts are filled with Melbourne based or Melbourne only content there are some concerns. In particularÂ the lack of AFL coverage (which MTR’s sister station SEN covers) and previous failures such as Alan Bond’s networking of programs on 2UE and 3AK in the mid-1980s, which according to Fairfax’s Financial Review were a spectacular failure, there will no doubt be some concern that the venture will never reach a significance audience and advertising share to remain viable.
With Macquarie Radio’s backing and management skills that saw 2GB enter the market and trounce Fairfax’s 2UE to become Sydney’s & Australia’s leading talk-station, the runs are on the board for MTR. Whilst television broadcasters battle over the 25-54 demographic, MTR and 3AW will battle for those aged 40+ to take a slice of the estimated $200m commercial radio advertising market in Melbourne this year.
The stage is set for the next radio battle. Writing for Melbourne’s Hearld Sun Steve Price said he is back in Melbourne for the long haul. He also wrote, “Quitting or losing aren’t things I contemplate and I wouldn’t be dragging my two children and wife out of Sydney if I didn’t think we could make a long-term success of this venture.”
But as 3AW’s Derryn Hinch said “3AW listerners are very loyal” and according to a vote on the Herald Sun’s website taken a few weeks ago 59.02% believe MTR cannot beat 3AW.
Whether MTR eventually dismantle 3AW as the #1 talk station in Melbourne is not the main game at the moment. John Singleton’s Macquarie Radio Network will be more than happy to just have entered the Melbourne radio market and attempt to take a sizeable chunk of advertiser spending from it without having the initial setup costs of buying a broadcast licence for the frequency and broadcast equipment.
We will be all listening carefully to see how MTR performs in its first few weeks on air and wait for the next ratings survey before passing judgement. The question is will MTR have improved on 3MP’s last ratings survey?
For more information on MTR visit www.mtr1377.com.au
For more information on 3AW visit www.3aw.com.au