‘He’s a good bloke’: Nine Radio on how Ben Fordham held onto that #1 Breakfast spot
Debate may still be raging – or at least ticking along mildly aggressively – about the AM/ FM divide, and whether segregating stations according to the traditional metric and delivery platform is still relevant. One thing, however, is clear, and that’s the #1 position held by Ben Fordham in Sydney Breakfast in terms of audience share as 2020 winds down.
There were, of course, doubters when the younger host took over the coveted Nine Radio slot from radio veteran Alan Jones. Could he hold on to those older, Jones loyalists? Would younger, more liberal, listeners give him ago after years of controversy and genuine issues with Jones? And was there an appetite for Nine Radio’s “new approach” to talk radio, as the media giant completely took over the legacy Macquarie Media assets?
According to Greg Byrnes, Nine Radio’s head of content, the answer to all of those questions, is “yes”.
Asked what the key highlights are for Nine Radio as 2020 draws to a close, he has a pretty simple answer: “The fact that AW has responded as it has. And really 2GB, in particular Ben Fordham – what Ben’s done in Breakfast.”
The appeal of Fordham, he said, is a combination of factors: Nine’s return to, and emphasis on, ‘live and local’; his time running a successful Drive show; and his on, and off, air persona as a “good bloke”.
“Well, we, he’s got a show that’s been successful in Drive for 10 years. He knows how to put good radio together. The big focus was getting back to local… live and local, and he does that really well. There’s great companionship, there’s a laugh. You’re getting all your traditional talk radio fodder, but I think people are getting a lot more of a laugh than what they’re used to, while also getting all that meat and potato. He’s engaging. He’s a good bloke, right? He’s a good bloke. And I think he’s the sort of guy you’d want to have a beer with, and anyone that knows him knows that’s who he is, and more and more Sydneysiders are realising that,” Byrnes said after Survey 8’s results in which 2GB had a 17.1% share in Breakfast.
Co-host of Sydney’s #1 FM Breakfast show, Kyle Sandilands, however, has a different perspective on his radio rival, his success, and his appeal.
“I don’t mind Ben. He’s just a pest. He’s that sort of over-the-top… he’s like a salesman,” Sandilands told the Mediaweek Podcast. “Like Fordham will do okay because old people don’t know whether Alan’s there, or some people still think Lawsy’s there. They don’t know. But Fordo’s okay, but he’s like that guy at the front of Target at the weekends with the little microphone getting women to come in and buy the socks. People like that. His audience like that. He sounds informed. Doesn’t really know. He’s an alright bloke. There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just not my cup of tea.”
Sandilands’ station, Australian Radio Network’s KIIS 106.5, had an 11.3% share in Breakfast in Survey 8.