Hit Network set for biggest overhaul in half-decade [exclusive]
Southern Cross Austereo will today unveil a number of major changes to the Hit Network in metro and regional markets (July 27), Radio Today can exclusively reveal.
It’s the biggest network overhaul since the Hit brand was first introduced in 2014 and marks the beginning of a major play by SCA to reclaim their duopoly leadership position in key markets.
As part of the changes that roll out from today, Hit107 Adelaide and Hit105 Brisbane will return to their heritage brands of SAFM and B105. Each station confirmed the switch on-air this morning.
In Adelaide, Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann returns to the radio station that launched his career, joining Rebecca Morse and Andrew Costello in a bid to lure back listeners in breakfast.
On the Gold Coast, Bianca Dye arrives at Hit90.9 to join the Brekkie Crew with Dan Anstey and Ben Hannant. Radio Today confirmed Dye’s departure from Australian Radio Network on Friday.
Talking exclusively to Radio Today, SCA content chief, Dave Cameron, and Hit Network boss, Gemma Fordham, said the new strategy represents a broader product and content approach.
“We are moving from being an under 40 network to a 30 to 54 demo, still a female skewed network but broad enough for all. It’ll still be a pop-based format,” Cameron told me on Friday.
“This is a direct reflection of where we see advertising money and briefs come through, which is to an older, broader audience. And we feel like we have a really strong point of difference here.
“You will see and hear us take a different approach to the way we’re putting our music together, to our messaging on-air. It’s a broader appeal to what we have done in the last five or six years.”
Cameron also revealed that Hit96.1 Mount Gambier will rebrand today to SAFM.
Photo: Head of the Hit Network, Gemma Fordham, returned to SCA in 2016.
On Hit’s all-new mood-based music strategy, Fordham said it will be a combination of big pop hits of now and familiar songs from past decades that listeners can “fall back in love with”.
“Everything that you’ll hear from Monday is a really uplifting, joyous, joyful, happy tone,” Fordham told me. “It really is about lifting people’s spirits, brightening their day.”
The Hit Network now has a brand new logo, created inhouse under the watchful eyes of SCA’s chief marketing and communications officer, Nikki Clarkson, and her creative team.
“The logo is more sophisticated and less bubblegum, but really refreshing and aspirational. And it’s got strong iconography and grey colours, but certainly less bubblegummy,” Cameron explains.
“Our logo didn’t match our sound,” Fordham added. “Nikki Clarkson and her team have done a terrific job working with Dave and me to get it right, to get our vision.”
Photo: The new Hit network logo, developed in house by the SCA creative team.
The backflip in Adelaide and Brisbane is timely. This year the once-unstoppable SAFM celebrates its 40th Birthday and the history-rich B105 its 30th Birthday.
“Lehmo is synonymous with SAFM and has obviously led the number one show there before,” Fordham told me. “So he was really chuffed and loved the idea of returning the brand to SAFM.”
Cameron confirmed today’s changes marks “a new starting line” for the Hit Network, with further announcements expected over the next six months. And yes, that includes 2DayFM.
“It’s certainly not the finishing line for us, this is a new starting line for us,” Cameron said.
“The only market that is not changing at this stage is Perth. We’re having a good look at the market. And we’ll have other announcements to make around Perth in due course.”