The ratings on the wall
End-of-year listening figures herald the usual number of personnel changes
IT DIDN’T take long for the musical chairs synonymous with this time of year to begin once the final radio ratings figures were released.
The announcements have flowed thick and fast.
Stand-up comedian Akmal Saleh will sign off from Nova’s national drive program The Wrong Way Home after 2½ years.
Saleh, who shared the on-air honours with fellow comedians Cal Wilson and Ed Kavalee, is leaving to write a book, a movie and hit the road with a new stand-up show. A replacement has yet to be announced.
Quirky comedians John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver, better known as Roy and H.G., are heading to Triple M after 22 years presenting their take on all things sport on Triple J. The pair will replace comedians Wil Anderson and Anthony ‘‘Lehmo’’ Lehmann on Fridays and Mondays. It was announced several weeks ago they would be parting company with the station after two years.
Networked out of Sydney, the affable Wil and Lehmo could do little to limit the ratings fallout from their all-conquering FOX rivals Hamish and Andy.
The dynamic duo sucked the ratings life out of any show unlucky enough to be up against them in the same timeslot, including 3AW talkback veteran Derryn Hinch.
The two mates, who just four years ago were working for petrol money, finished 2008 with an audience share of 23.4 — their highest figures for the year, cementing their status as the most listened-to show on the dial.
Other stations had much less to crow about.
DMG, which runs Nova 100 and Vega 91.5 from its Richmond studios, finishes 2008 with mixed fortunes.
Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek had a solid year, finishing second in the highly competitive FM breakfast stakes behind FOX’s Matt and Jo Show. Nova morning host Dylan Lewis also claimed a healthy 1.7 per cent ratings jump to 9.5.
Sister station Vega recorded modest increases in listeners across the board, but the news wasn’t so good for the station’s flagship breakfast shift.
The early morning team of Ian ‘‘Dicko’’ Dickson, Dave O’Neil and Chrissie Swan (now on maternity leave) has struggled all year to make an impact, a fact station general manager Sam Thompson finds disappointing.
‘‘I think what comes out of the speakers and the effort that is put in is really worth more than that,’’ Thompson says of the team’s 2.8 per cent result.
She described the trio as an extremely hardworking breakfast team who courageously open their lives to their listeners.
Dickson, in particular, has done everything this year from trying his hand at stand-up comedy to climbing into the wrestling ring in the chase for ratings.
‘‘There is nothing they won’t do, including putting their life on the line— quite literally in Dicko’s case — to produce the best quality and an exciting breakfast show,’’ Thompson says.
The fortunes of the Vega crew were symptomatic of a market that saw three new FM radio breakfast teams enter the fray in 2008.
Along with Dicko and company, TripleMduo Peter Helliar and Myf Warhurst and Mix 101.1 FM’s Two Women and a Metro (featuring Brigitte Duclos) all lost ground.
Helliar and Warhurst finished the year with a disappointing 4.7 audience share, almost 2 per cent down on their 6.3 per cent debut in survey one.
MIX FM’s female-friendly Two Women and a Metro has also struggled to build an audience, finishing 2008 down 0.2 per cent on the previous survey to 4.4 and 0.9 points behind its best result in survey two.
Station chiefs are publicly backing all three teams, passionately declaring they have faith in them and that it takes a couple of years to build an audience. Only time will tell if they are right.
There are no such problems at FOX.
The runaway success this year of both Hamish and Andy and breakfast stalwarts Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley helped secure the overall No.1 spot for the station, knocking 3AW off its perch for the first time in six years.
It has now cemented that lead, beating the talkback kings three surveys in a row.
Despite still ruling the roost with the No.1-rating show on the AM band, long-time 3AW breakfast team Ross Stevenson and John Burns end the year with a 0.6 per cent ratings dip to 17.7 per cent, their third negative survey result in a row.
Out of there:
Nova’s (right) Akmal Saleh with Cal Wilson and Ed Kavalee.