The last radio ratings for Sydney contain a few bombs for nervy station managements as they grapple with what to do with their problem children.

The difficult kids have included Chris Smith at 2GB (suspended at the weekend for alcohol and harassment related reasons), Steve Price (departed 2UE, but could be bound for Smith’s afternoon slot) and above all, Kyle and Jackie O at 2DayFM (Austereo). Smith and the 2FDay FM breakfast duo did very well, adding to the pressure on 2GB and 2Day management who have struggled to control both.

Price is supposed to be heading back to Melbourne to work on the old 3MP which John Singleton’s Macquarie Radio is reportedly buying. But Price has children in school in Sydney and a home there and pushing him into the afternoon slot instead of Smith might end up an easier option. Smith’s long history of poor behaviour and trouble with alcohol might make him hard to keep in 2010.

For Kyle and Jackie, the finish was strong as they shrugged off all their self-inflicted atrocities during the year, especially the dodgy lie detector stunt. 2Day suspended them for four weeks, but that hasn’t impacted their standing. Their figures were down in the last survey, leading to big headlines, but this time round they bounced back strongly.

Macquarie’s 2GB retained its top spot, as did Alan Jones, who lifted share, but so too did 2Day FM and ABC local radio’s 702, especially breakfast host Adam Spencer and drive host Richard Glover. Jones wants to work four mornings next week. When you own a swag of the station, you can work the hours you want.

2GB was top with a 15.6 share Monday to Friday, up 1.6. Jones in breakfast saw his share rise a strong 2.0 to 18.6 and the suspended Chris Smith in afternoons saw his share jump 1.9 to 13.5, which won the slot. 2DayFM was second with 11.6, up 1.4, and due mostly to the 1.5 rise in the share of Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O in the breakfast slot where they were third with a share of 12.5. 2Day won Drive with a share of 15.6, up 0.9.

702, the ABC local radio outlet saw its share rise 0.2 to 11.0 and third in the market.

But Adam Spencer finished second behind Jones with his share up 0.9 to 12.9. Mornings with Deborah Cameron rose 0.1 to 10.2, which was a strong way to finish for her and Richard Glover in drive saw his share rise 0.1 to 11 and he beat the other AM talk stations in 2GB and 2UE (which fell 1.2) to 4.2. Fairfax Radio’s 2UE took a hit in the 8th and final survey of the year, especially in breakfast where the expensive Mike Carlton was replaced by the cheaper double headed option of John Stanley and Sandy Aloisi.

And the departing, very expensive (but not as expensive as $800,000), Steve Price left 2UE on a downer, with a loss in mornings of 1.2 to 7.0. That pushed him behind the gentler Deb Cameron on 702. There’s only so much room for angry ants on radio and in Chris Smith, Ray Hadley (who lifted his morning share on 2GB to 16.4, up a solid 1.1) and Gloria Jones in breakfast, 2GB has them all. Smith would merely be replaced by another bullant in Mr Price.

2GB won evenings and won the weekends in Sydney in the latest survey. 702 was second, just ahead of 2Day.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Fairfax Radio’s 3AW kept its top spot, but lost share as did Austereo’s Fox FM which kept a close second spot. ABC local radio’s 774 was third.

3AW lost 1.5 to finish on 14.4 for the survey, while Fox FM lost 0.2 to end on 13.8. 774 lost heavily as well, down 1.3 to 11.5.

So based on the efforts in Sydney and Melbourne, it was a bad survey for Fairfax as they try to lower the cost and change the appeal of their main stations (especially 2UE). In breakfast, 3AW’s duo of Ross Stevenson and John Burns saw their share dip 0.8 to a still strong 19.2. Neil Mitchell shed 0.8 to 15.9 in mornings and the station lost heavily across the rest of the day as well.

Fox lost ground in breakfast, mornings , while their star duo of Hamish and Andy were unchanged on 22.6, which wasn’t bad given the losses during the day. Fox added share in evenings however and over weekend. 3AW won weekends narrowly from Fox with 774 third.

TripleM in Melbourne added 0.5 to 4.2, in Sydney TripleM was steady on 3.5 (it can’t fall much further), but Austereo has a bigger headache with this network than it does with the likes of Kyle and Jackie O, though judging by the headlines during the year, you would have though it was the other way round.

Triple J (a commercial music stations without the ads these days) saw its share fall in Sydney, down a nasty 0.8 to 3.9, and in Melbourne, down 0.9 to 4.6. Of the ABC’s classic music stations Sydney lost 0.1 to 2.7, while in Melbourne it added a solid 0.6 to 2.9.

Nova and Vega, now about to be half owned by Lachlan Murdoch, had reasonable surveys. Nova in Sydney added 1.7 to 9.3, thanks in part to the big rise of 1.7 in the share of the departing breakfast team of Merrick and Rosso. Vega in Sydney, now going ultra low cost (and a three man operation in the back office from all reports), averaged 3.6, down a hurtful 1.1

In Melbourne, Nova added half a per cent to an 8.0 share, Vega added 0.4 to 4.7. In Brisbane Nova won with a share of 13.9, up 1.2 in survey 8. Fairfax’s 4BC fell 0.5 to 8.4. ABC local radio’s 612 lost 1.6 to 8.4. Austereo B105 finished second with 11.5, up 0.1. 97.3 FM (ARN) was third with a steady 10.6.

Peter Fray

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