Nova to me, does sound rather stale at the moment, agreed, but neither KIIS or Hit are pushing the boat out with something new and exciting.
Some of the daytime jocks, sure. Troy Ellis is a far better asset to Nova than Greg Burns is, but they need to take a listen, and not be afraid to push boundaries, get some of the spark that makes a high energy jock who enjoys the music and the role, sound so good.
Sounds Different era would definitely be a good place to start. Take inspiration from peers, not imitate. Smooth wouldn’t have gotten half as far as they have if they didn’t test the waters - oh wait. That’s Vega.
As for frequencies, when I think of 96.9, I really don’t think many people would even know of Hit Shepparton, or 91.9, Hit Bendigo, or whatever. They’d go straight to Nova in terms of thought process, because regional areas, aren’t exactly the well known frequency areas. (And I’m sure the denizens of Melbourne would confuse Hit Mackay with Nova 100, or Power FM Mt Barker)
As for stations with the .x removed, if it works for Z100 for example, as a strong brand, I don’t see an issue with Nova 100 being minus the .3. I highly doubt that Z100 would have half the energy and recall attached to it, if it had the .3 on the end.
Realistically to the average listener, the brand probably matters more than saying the frequency, and making sure the content is up to scratch. You don’t see BBC radio 1 or 2, or Triple J listing off every frequency they have.