Regional Radio Ratings


The new home to discuss regional radio ratings to be conducted in 2016 by Xtra Research.


Commercial Radio Australia has appointed Xtra Research as the official provider of regional radio surveys in 2016.

“The industry looks forward to working with Xtra to provide valuable insights into the regional listening audience for stations, advertisers and agencies”, said CRA CEO Joan Warner.

Xtra Reseach can undertake radio audience measurement for markets outside of the five capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and three major centres of the Gold Coast, Canberra and Newcastle, which are already covered by the current GfK Audience Measurement Survey contract.

As costs blew out over the years, smaller regional markets had not been surveyed for a number of years. In 2014 CRA introduced the new methodology which enabled regional radio stations to commission one of a panel of four approved providers to undertake surveys in conjunction with other commercial and public broadcasters in their licence area.

Under the panel system, Xtra Research conducted surveys in Wollongong, Albury, Swan Hill, Hobart, Horsham, Hamilton, Colac, Warnambool, Sunshine Coast and Townsville. Xtra Research will now become the single regional radio survey provider from 2016.

Paul Amos, Managing Director of Xtra Research said:

“We are looking forward to working with Commercial Radio Australia and the regional stations to provide them with the critical sales and programming information they need. We believe in the strength of regional radio. Now as the exclusive provider, we can dedicate to further developing the tools and resources used by regional radio to demonstrate and present those strengths.”

With the new partnership with CRA, Paul Amos also announced that Bethaney Lawler, Research Director at Xtra, has been appointed to a new position as Head of Radio Audience Measurement.

“Having been involved in the trials of the new regional audience methodology, and worked together with CRA and the regional operators over the last few years, I’m thrilled to be leading the team that will provide essential insights into listener behaviour for regional areas,”said Lawler.


@MarkHD for the markets that dont do ‘formal’ ratings (im thinking along the lines of the single operator commercial markets) do they do any kind of research to determine listener numbers?


they can - but usually don’t.

The Central Coast is the big one I’m hoping for in 2016 - it’s been far too long for that market and Star in particular really needs to see where it sits in the market.


It will be interesting to see what happens. Personally, with a decision like this, I would think that there should be some kind of directive as to the markets that should be covered and with what frequency. Markets like Central Coast desperately need it, and need it with relative frequency as it more or less defeats the purpose if you’re only going to do it once every four years.

Geelong would be another interesting market (have they EVER surveyed), though with no direct market competitor it might not be worth it.

Personally, I think any competitive market over a certain size should survey at least twice a year.


I have to agree that any competitive market over a certain size should be surveyed at least twice a year. Surely the NSW Central Coast, with three commercial stations (two from SCA and one from Nova Entertainment, that’s before adding the fortuitous Sydney/Newcastle reception into the mix) and a population of around 300k would be big enough to support two radio surveys per year? Maybe it depends on whether the stations agree to it, who knows.

Smaller markets with commercial duopolies would only really need one survey per year, but I’d like to think that larger and more competitive markets such as the Central Coast, Wollongong, Sunshine Coast, etc could definitely support at least two surveys per year.


Considering Newcastle and the Gold Coast traditionally survey three times/year, surely markets like Wollongong and the Central Coast can support something similar…


Yes they do. But they are not publishable figures, and are used internally so the stations know where they are sitting. It’s referred to as “tracking”.


And we know that tracking can be vastly different to that of a survey.


Tracking can’t be used to sell, and that’s the important but.


Thanks amc, very well said.


Is that a legal thing, or is it just because advertisers won’t considering tracking since it’s not independent and audited?


According to Radio Today, up to 20 key regional markets across Australia will have survey results for 2016, with Griffith & Dubbo to be the first markets surveyed. Ratings survey is also planned for Bendigo, Shepparton, Cairns, Toowoomba, Wagga Wagga & others throughout the year.

Source: Radio Today

I hope that the Central Coast of NSW will be one of the regional markets to be surveyed this year, as it would be interesting to see how Star rates against the SCA duo (2GO & Sea). I also wouldn’t mind seeing Wollongong getting another survey this year.


@TV-Expert I think Toowoomba will be interesting. I would expect a big showing from River 94.9 based on the number of callers they have from Toowoomba area, and they also do local traffic and advertising. Being the only adult FM station on offer I’m kinda thinking they might even beat 4GR. Time will tell and I could be completely wrong, but I think 1. Hot FM and 2. River 94.9 then 4GR. I doubt 4AK or 4WK will figure prominently but you never know. I think Triple J will do better in Toowoomba than other regional markets too, given the big student (University and private high schools) population in the city. Also Toowoomba is also a lot more “urbane” than most regional centres given it’s proximity to Brisbane and it’s always had access to metro TV and radio to some extent. I remember in the 80s 4AK was a really “metro” sounding local station and it really stuck out when compared to other regional stations. It was rock orientated and sounded like an AM “FM104” a bit. It was on par with 4SS and 4GG at the time in SEQ for sounding “city” rather than regional.


Yes, 4AK was a good station back in the 80s, I think it also used the same “Rock In Stereo” positioner as FM104.

I remember listening to a bit of 4AK when on the Gold Coast last year, and they were playing a few 80s hits in a row, and I felt quite nostalgic then.


Prior to that 4AK had a “beautiful music” format like 2CH, 4BH and 3AK.


Do they not bother with Geelong due to getting metro stations and only two local commercials in a duopoly?


@ TVHead Not sure, but Geelong would be almost identical to Wollongong in that respect and I think they do Wollongong ratings?


@ Radiohead Yes 4AK used the “Rock in Stereo” positioner in the late 80s, and even their logo used the same blue and yellow colours and similar writing style to the FM104 logo at the time. BTW the other station that ripped off the colours and style of the FM104 logo was K-Rock Geelong :slight_smile:


The difference between those two markets is that, whilst both have 2 local commercial radio stations that are well within listenable distance of their neighbouring metro markets, both of Geelong’s commercial radio stations are owned by the same company, but in Wollongong, its 2 local commercial radio stations compete with each other, as they’re not owned by the same company.