By James Manning
> Music guru Becko
Chris Beckhouse (left) has been at the Sydney FM station since 2009 and after originally hosting the morning show, he now presents the music in the afternoon slot. “Across the workday at the station there is a real focus on the music and my job is to keep the people at work listening longer.”
More commonly known to his audience and colleagues as Becko, the Triple M shift he hosts is the highest-rating at the station with a share of 6.8%. “It can be a fine balance getting it right. We want people to listen all day without tiring of the station which means we really need to get the music offering right.”
When asked about competition in the Sydney market, Becko noted they are a clear leader with male listeners. “WSFM also performs well with their workday. Musically people might choose between us and WSFM, and maybe even 2Day FM too though.”
Asked to describe the playlist, Becko said: “70s, 80s, 90s and current. Sometimes we tweak the list to play maybe more 80s or a little less. We have also focused a lot more on the 90s recently as well.”
Becko’s favourite music includes acts like Oasis, Nirvana, Foo Fighters. He does think there were some years in the last decade that were pretty lean for rock music – he singled out 2004 and 2005.
He agreed that at the moment Foo Fighters best encapsulate the Triple M music offer. “They would be the biggest artist on our playlist at the moment. They are current so you can play them a bit more and they are prolific – there are a lot of songs to choose from.” The station could play up to half a dozen Foo Fighters tunes in a 12-hour period, although Triple M is careful not to play too much of the one artist.
Becko shares the Triple M scheduling duties with Matt White as well as handling some of the station operational chores. “You can wear a lot of hats and it helps keep you fresh. We even look after some of the social media too.”
He cautioned against falling into the trap of filling all the time with admin duties and not prepping sufficiently for a music show.
Becko is also a point of contact for music labels who pepper the station with new releases to get some traction with music consumers. “Most of them get it and they won’t hassle you too much unless it really suits Triple M. Some people do contact you a lot, some to the point of harassment, but most people get it. We have very good relationships with all music labels.
“Radio remains still the most powerful medium to introduce new music. I really saw that during the 10 years I worked for the Today Network including B105 and Fox. It is very satisfying when you are at the beginning of the career of a music artist who eventually becomes a major recording star.”
> Sports guy Dan Ginnane
As the sports guy at a rock, sport and comedy format Dan Ginnane (right) gets called on to fill much of the airtime. That workload currently includes the weekday Rush Hour program at 6pm, the Saturday Dead Set Legends and he also works on many of the NRL matches the broadcaster covers. Triple M is now well into the third year of an increased NRL coverage that starts on Friday nights and doesn’t end until the Monday night game.
Sports broadcasters need to often fill a lot of airtime in their preview shows, but Ginnane is not one to waste his work. When asked how the expanded NRL coverage has been tracking after a few years, he said: “Fantastic.”
When quizzed about this year in particular, he told Mediaweek: “The scheduling gods have been with us and there has been a lot of Saturday afternoon football. 2GB and Triple M split the rights and with no Sunday night game we are getting the extra Saturday match. There are more people listening to radio on a Saturday afternoon than Sunday night and we are very happy about that.
“We are in the middle of a five-year deal and we are aligned to television with both deals ending in 2017.”
2GB and Triple M often call the same match on Friday nights. “We also both cover all finals, State Of Origin and any rep games. Otherwise the two stations tend to do different games across the weekend.”
Triple M in Sydney and Brisbane invests heavily in its NRL coverage, as does Triple M Melbourne with its AFL coverage, and we asked Ginnane how profitable it is for Southern Cross Austereo. “The buzzword for the sales people is environment. We are selling environment. You could rate 5% playing songs and it doesn’t cost you a penny. But you don’t make a penny either. Our NRL calls are peppered with credits and advertisements. Things like Mitsubishi Triton scoreboard, Coates Hire Replay, Triple M NRL for Harvey Norman etc etc and that is what pays the bills.
“If it wasn’t making money Southern Cross wouldn’t have looked into it. The company did a lot of due diligence before this new agreement to see if it could make money. I can say without fear of being castigated for giving up too many secrets it is making money in spades. It is rating well in the right demos and it has been nothing but a success for Triple M.”
> PR shock: FM praises AM station
Triple M did something very surprising recently, they put out a release praising the performance of fierce football competitor 2GB. Ginnane: “Our people thought they would praise the opposition for having a bigger older audience. The release said: ‘Triple M NRL has failed to attract a single listener aged over 70 years old. At the same time 2GB’s Continuous Call Team has cleaned up the over 70s attracting more than 50,000 grannies and grand-dads’. Triple M pointed out our under 50s audience is almost four times that of 2GB’s Continuous Call Team (183,000 vs 47,000).
“Triple M did very well in the recent survey. We don’t have a massive marketing budget so it is a word of mouth thing. The best thing that gets the word out is when we have broken stories. We have had lots of stories that have given us lots of publicity which help to publicise the fact that Triple M is a full-time rugby league station.”
Despite the friction over the ratings, Ginnane said he gets on OK with 2GB’s Ray Hadley and their newcomer David Morrow when they are at the same games together.
[blockquote style=”3″]Triple M Podcasts
Listen to our complete interviews with Triple M’s Dan Ginnane and Becko online or download free on iTunes. Hear Ginnane talk more about sports media and then he puts Mediaweek under the spotlight, while Becko reveals more secrets about the Triple M playlist![/blockquote]