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6IX hopes breakfast shift will revitalise its fortunes

WHILE ownership shake-up predicted for the Perth radio market in the heat of this year’s breakfast wars has failed to eventuate, “goodtime oldies” station 1080 6IX is still struggling to lift its rating performance.

1080 6IX has denied the station is looking for a buyer despite its disappointing performance up against the dominant 94.5 in the baby boomers demographic.

1080 6IX station manager Phil Leitch said that, although the future of the station was a little uncertain (pending an ABA decision on an FM licence), there was no question of the station’s financial viability.

“Anything’s possible, but certainly to my knowledge we haven’t had any overtures,” Mr Leitch said.

We’re not looking to sell, we’re here for the long term.”

In the heat of the breakfast radio wars, industry analysts predicted the stations not making the grade would have to sell to remain financially viable.

Big budget marketing campaigns and undisclosed announcer transfer fees left even the strongest commercial FM stations vulnerable to the volatile market.

The smell of burning cash even attracted millionaire industry figure Jack Bendat back into the picture, at which time he revealed his plans to buy a radio station in Perth.

Since then the smoke and fire have cleared and the ratings surveys have settled down, with cumulative figures suggesting audience sampling has fallen off.

However, 6IX, identified by Mr Bendat as a possible acquisition target, has failed to lift its ratings much beyond 6 per cent this year, well short of where it was before the upheaval in the breakfast time slot.

“It’s a very exciting time for radio in Perth. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with the ABA plan for Perth. It’s also a little uncertain for us,” Mr Leitch said.

A member of the ABA has been in Perth this week talking with representatives from Radio Perth, the owners of 1080 6IX, Southern Cross Broadcasting and Austereo.

“There’s a fairly clear direction we want to go. As a commercial broadcaster we have the right to present the product to everyone in the area. The parameters of our licence were established some 30 years ago and Perth was half the size it is now,” Mr Leitch said.

“We don’t believe there is an AM solution that will provide that coverage and, through a process of elimination, that leaves us looking at the FM band.”

1080 6IX is firmly focused on the future and on bedding down its existing audience.

The launch of a new breakfast team featuring Tony Hartney and Samantha Pannell is part of a long-term strategy to raise the profile and brand awareness of the station.

1080 6IX program director Leo Nelson said the new breakfast show would build on the current core of listeners, with a plan to beef up

the station’s marketing activity

once the new team has settled in.

“The ratings system favours the best branded radio station, it’s top-of-mind recall,” Mr Nelson said.

“I think 92.9 and 96FM will battle survey to survey but we’re also fighting on the AM band and that doesn’t help our share.”

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