Talk Radio Round 1: MTR 1377 v 3AW 693

Steve Price
Melbourne Talk Radio's Steve Price

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

Melbourne Radio Ratings

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 are 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:

Time Hosts Programming information

Other Information

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 – Jason Akermanis

8am – Andrew Bolt

9am – 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 particular 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

For more information on 3AW visit


  1. MTR is appropriate. Thats the Hong Kong railway system and when you are running a Melbourne station from Sydney it may as well have a Hong Kong name.
    cant wait for it to fail, not that it would get 3MP back. I am for choice and we just one.

  2. To whom it may concern,
    What have you done to 3mp, you have ruined it, we have got enough talk stations, i have listened to 3MP for years and enjoyed it very much, but you have ruined it, i will be tuning to another station, you have lost a full time listener, who wants to listen to a lot of idiots talking about nothing.

  3. Interesting that Steve Price says the business model will make them profitable from day one. Consider that Steve was on $1m at 2UE, and was asked to take a haircut (say $750k). He walked away from this and hauled his whole family back to Melbourne, so the offer must have matched the $1m he was already being paid in Sydney. Next, we have Andrew Bolt telling friends that he is being paid $200k for his segment on the Steve Price show. Vizard wouldn’t come cheap, and presumably Martin King is having a nice long drink too. That’s alot of dollars to haul back through advertising.

    Anyway, good luck to them. I listened yesterday from Sydney (on and off) and couldn’t believe Chris Smith’s luck in having the Moran (alleged) murder occur during his maiden shift!

  4. it’s great having a choice . mitchell has been on the airwaves too long, i think vizard is already proving that his show is superior. vizards manner and tone of voice is far better than obnoxious , uneducated mitchell. mitchell is a bogan.

  5. MTR is Going weell and I think due to their Marketing campaign tthey are having more people will listen to them and they will have better ratings in the long term.

  6. Have listened since day one and do enjoy after being listener at AW. There is a nice balance and the announcers are quite vibrant and do listen to callers. Got sick and tired of listening to aw morning with Ross & John and Mitchell. Very predictable

  7. MTR will gain many listeners from other Melbourne Radio Stations.
    MTR is going well I emailed Steve Price to suggest to him to sign AJ from 3CR, Ron Welsh from RDIO eASTERN 98/1FM and people from otyher community Radio Stations in Melbourne and South Gipsland so that MTR can gain listeners from those community Radio Stations.


  9. I enjoy listening to 3AW -and- MTR. There is too much sport on 3AW. Their drawcards are their early morning show, Denis Walter (at times) Derryn Hinch – telling it like it is without the fluff and Tom Elliot’s weekend break (during the non-football season).

    I can’t stand ignorant Neil Mitchell’s overly emotional manipulation of stories to garner audiences/callers (Hence MTR gets my attention then, evenings and for weekends).

    People shouldn’t be so “tunnel-visioned” and should tune into opposition channels from time to time (at least) to see what’s on offer. It opens your mind and give people a better perspective/understanding as to what’s happening in the world and how the media compares.

  10. Well the first ratings results showed how well they are doing. 1.7% or about 10,000 listeners on average in a city of 3.7 million people.

    That is quite simply pathetic. Maney well spent buying that “talent”

  11. Aker, I don’t know what you have done wrong, according to your football club and some of the public media outlets, but speaking to the broader community you have only written and spoken what we all think. If it started from your article on being the first person to “come out gay,” than what is wrong with the world. I agree with everything that you said in the atricle, you were only stating what you thought would happen. I am a Collingwood supporter and my wife is a Richmond supporter. My heart still bleeds for those grand finals you stole from us. We repect your opions greatly and we wish you all the best.
    Dodgie and Tania
    Marong Football Club

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