One more time with feeling

Staff Writer

Rob McCasker is a former radio programmer and now freelance writer, here he gives his perspective on Smoothfm.

There’s a buzz on smoothfm. Little to do with the logo looking like somewhere you’d get a caffeine hit – although dmg will be hoping withdrawals from the new brand won’t be as quick and  decisive as the previous two.

This website broke the news dmg will relaunch a pair of stations for over 40’s in under two weeks. The network points to international markets of London, Auckland and New York as proof that easy-listening, if done correctly, works. In all three markets the stations enjoy success with impressive listening and revenue numbers.

Of course dmg Radio Australia would prefer you look outside this country and share the dream rather than look back at their previous attempts which have been clumsy failures.

‘Vega’ could have been called ‘Vaguer’. It was obscure and ill-defined. Classic Rock attracted loyal blokes but would never secure enough listeners overall to satisfy hungry budgets. So from the crunching George Thorogood and The Who at breakfast both 91.5 and 95.3 will soon be smoothfm. More music and less talk with soft listening from all era’s.

CEO Cathy O’Connor was animated at the announcement; “A major launch of a new radio brand is incredibly exciting not just for dmg Radio Australia, but for the whole industry. We’ve identified a gap in the market for a music position that is unique in the Sydney and Melbourne radio landscape and we’re confident that listeners will embrace smoothfm.”

There’s nothing unexpected from the CEO in that quote. One hopes dmg has done the required due diligence and produced a winning business model to fill a hole in the market. Anything less would be unacceptable to all stakeholders. Assuming a gap was found last time, and the time before that, the market will first greet this new opportunity with scepticism before embracing.

The enthusiasm from Ms. O’Connor and her executive team has more to do with what wasn’t said at the brand launch; this is THE last roll of the dice for both signals. Stuff this up and dmg should give the stations away as a survey promotion. Win a radio station and have a crack. We did three times and failed. Got no idea, here you go it’s yours.

Nothing flares the nostrils more of a seasoned radio executive than the possibility a station, while under their watch and after every attempt, stands for nothing. Unlike a bricks and mortar business, where you can pack up and trade elsewhere, a radio station can relaunch but still must ask its customers to come back to the same address. At some point they won’t bother.

Cathy O’Connor was right when she said the radio industry is excited. Radio is desperate for smoothfm to work. On this web site comments from ex-employees of dmg, who could easily be bitter, have thrown their genuine support behind the launch. Australia is full of great people who know a strong radio business equals jobs.

May 21 from 7am all ears and eyes will be on dmg Radio Australia. Anticipate a targeted, well funded marketing campaign and expect the very best talent within dmg to be across every detail of the strategy.

This cannot fail.

 

Rob McCasker has 20 years experience in radio and now lives on The Great Ocean Rd working as a freelance writer. You can contact Rob here.

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