Radio survey results: changes cause slight slip for NZME. stations but Newstalk ZB still supreme

Drastic changes in April to some NZME. radio stations (formerly TRN) have caused the media group to lose some listeners. However, its flagship, Newstalk ZB, continues to enjoy the biggest audience share.

The Radio Bureau today released its second survey for 2014, which surveys over 15,000 people and measures radio stations in two categories – share of New Zealand’s national audience and number of listeners.

The survey reveals that Newstalk ZB has held relatively steady, dropping 0.3% in terms of audience share but increasing listeners by 7600.

NZME radio managing director Dean Buchanan says Mike Hosking is critical to the station’s lead and applauds Mr Hosking for his election coverage.

Major changes to NZME radio stations since April include:

  • Scrapping Classic Hits and debuting The Hits (on the same frequency)
  • Moving Polly Gillespie and Grant Kereama from ZM to fledgling The Hits
  • Snatching Carl Fletcher, Vaughan Smith and Megan Sellers from the Edge to relaunch ZM

NZME chief of content Gemma Fordham says the changes were made because the network wanted a younger audience.

“The older audiences have moved to stations like the Sound and Breeze, which is fine with us, that was always our strategy,” she says.

Despite swiping the famous duo of Messrs Fletch and Vaughan to host the ZM breakfast segment and adding Ms Sellers to the mix to make a trio, the radio station couldn’t avoid some fallout. It lost 1.7% of audience share, the biggest shift in the survey.

“ZM has had a sensational result despite the changes,” says Ms Fordham. “Fletch, Vaughn and Megan are number two in cume for the 18-34 demographic. This is the important demographic because these people pay the bills.”

Meanwhile, MediaWorks is talking up the inroads it’s made in the hotly contested Auckland market, growing its total share to 42.9%, as NZME. dipped to 41.6%.

The Edge continues to dominate the most listeners category for the fifth year in a row, with 462,700 listeners.

“We literally have too many outstanding results to mention,” says MediaWorks Radio chief executive Wendy Palmer, “but I want to pay tribute to The Edge who are again number one and to our fantastic More FM teams throughout the country, who now have the biggest breakfast numbers of any music brand.”

Meanwhile, RadioLive, The Sound, More FM and Radio Hauraki have all increased their listeners significantly.

Radio Hauraki, which is part of NZME.’s stable, has previously embraced its underdog status, bragging about its number 13 ranking.

“We are really excited for Hauraki because it’s up to number 12,” says Mr Buchanan. “At this rate we are on track to become number 1 in 2026,”

The biggest loser was Radio Sport, dropping from 146,000 listeners to 123,000.

See a funny video of NZME.'s take on the radio results here.

cgibson@nbr.co.nz