I did some talkback shows when Radio Live first started under the legendary Larry Somerville, was a guest on a few panel shows back then, co-hosted MagicTalks 2020 election night coverage, was a guest panelist on MagicTalk where we started The Working Group, and I was a panelist on Today FM with Graeme Hill, so I have a lot of interest in the Today FM experiment and the latest ratings battle with ZB because I am a broadcasting geek.
Ratings came out last week and it’s produced the lowest Talkback ratings in NZ radio history.
Today FM went from 1.9 market share to a record ratings low of 1.7 and cumulative audience plummeted from 136 000 to 115 000.
I don’t think Tova interviewing Zelensky is enough to lift Today FMs ratings, I think she’ll have to actually fight the entire war by herself and only once she has single handedly pushed the entire Russian army out of all occupied Ukrainian territory, then, and only then, might Today FMs ratings lift.
MagicTalk finished its ratings run on 2.4 share with an audience of 165 000 after David Farrier published an incredibly defamatory character assassination of Sean Plunket where a millennial female staff member felt triggered that she had to work in a building with a man like Sean who had different opinions from her.
The funniest bit about Farrier’s character assassination was the bit where the millennial female staff member raced to the toilet to sob that Sean was in the building ONLY TO FIND OUT that MagicTalk was being played in the toilets!
You can’t write satire like that.
Sean was cancelled and MagicTalk rebranded into Today FM at a cost of $9million.
$9million dollars spent and all you get is 1.7 share while Sean’s new Platform has twice that audience?
When you go woke, you go broke.
There are two problems with Today FMs shocking ratings collapse.
The first is that it holds them hostage to the woke cancellation Lynch mob who can target advertisers (as was done with Sean) and because Today FM has so few advertisers, they will always capitulate to the woke Lynch mob.
In comparison, ZB has a 14.7 share and 700200 listeners.
You think ZB gives a fuck when the woke attack Hosking and call for cancellations?
Of course they don’t because they have so many advertisers!
And that’s the second problem, the total dominance of ZB in the radio market is one of the reasons for Wayne Brown’s lead in the Auckland Mayoralty.
ZB is so dominant, you can saturate advertising on that network and have enormous response.
National should just empty its pockets on ZB advertising next year for the election, the bang for buck is insanely huge BECAUSE Today FM is so weak.
HOW CAN TODAY FM BE SAVED?
One of the intimate successes of Talkback radio is that you have hosts that people have a relationship with. Take Graeme Hill who was dumped from Today FM recently.
Some listeners will have a multi decade relationship with Hill, he’s a friend of theirs, cutting him for hosts people don’t have a relationship with, like Tova, Duncan and the other guy at drive, makes it almost impossible to win them back.
The Today FM experiment is a response spawned by a panicked media company who got spooked by the woke, the only focus now must be at stopping the audience from haemorrhaging any further.
To that end, Today FM must forget about the ‘Balanced Mic’ branding and think that’s enough to win an audience in such politically polarised times.
They have to actually create a reason WHY people would listen.
Luckily for Today FM, there is a moment like that they can capture, the election next year!
Today FM must be politics, politics, politics all year in the lead up to the election.
There is a multi-party MMP spectrum splintering going on out there…
…Today FM could interview Political Leaders of the fringes all day long, play to the balanced mic branding by the Host being the balance between two extremes.
It needs producers with political intelligence and broadcasting insight to build those panels, but it can absolutely happen.
Today FM has to be talking head CNN radio and produce news about an event NZers still engage with at a higher level than a lot of other countries when it comes to voting in elections.
By creating a reason to listen with political news in an election year, Today FM would have chance of becoming a media product that sets the agenda while producing a justification to tune in.
Without an urgent change of focus and content creation, there must be a point where the financial owners of Mediaworks will demand results from this experiment.
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