The Hot List Winners: radio station

Jason Winstanley

Hottest radio station: Newstalk ZB

Nominees: RNZ National, The Edge, Newstalk ZB
People’s choice: RNZ National

When the first GfK survey of 2019 was released in April, Newstalk ZB saw the biggest growth across the board of commercial stations. Climbing 48,300 listeners since the final survey last year, it reached a total cumulative audience of 555,600. The station’s growth also highlighted the importance of radio as a source of news and analysis as Kiwis tuned in for updates on the Christchurch terror attack. NZME’s head of talk radio Jason Winstanley reflects on the station’s past year.

Newstalk ZB has recently seen a large growth in audience. Why is radio so important as a source of news and analysis?

Newstalk ZB is the number one commercial station in New Zealand. It’s immediate in a way that no other news source can be. Our ability to cover events locally and internationally is unsurpassed. We can be talking to the country’s top newsmakers one moment – then straight to our audience for their reaction.

How does Newstalk ZB continue to remain in the top of New Zealanders’ minds? 

By remaining true to our commitment to our listeners to deliver strong opinion and inspiring, entertaining and informative news and sports content delivered by New Zealand’s leading personalities.

What have been the station’s highlights over the past year?

Newstalk ZB remained the number one commercial station throughout 2018/2019

Some of the news highlights included extensive coverage of:

• The commitment shown by our teams covering the Christchurch terror attack — the professionalism, dedication and sensitivity displayed by our teams was outstanding
•Commonwealth Games including live commentary
•Royal Wedding – Mike Hosking Breakfast and Early Edition broadcast live from London
•The Jami-Lee Ross saga
•Cyclone Gita
•125th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. 

What have been some of its challenges? 

Developing the next generation of talk radio leaders has been a great challenge and an incredible opportunity. We have had two heritage shows that we’ve refreshed after the departures of Leighton Smith and Larry Williams. To identify new talent and build new shows has been a huge challenge. We’ve shown that with solid research and planning, an absolute focus on our audience and with the best radio minds in the business, we’ve met the challenge head-on and delivered some fantastic new programming our loyal listeners will love — and new listeners will find very compelling.

The new show line up has been announced with several changes, including the return of Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford, and Heather du Plessis-Allan taking over Drive from Larry Williams after 27 years at the helm. What can audiences expect?

All three hosts are fantastic broadcasters, and will be great additions to the ZB line-up. They will bring different perspectives and a different feel to their shows, but still have the key ZB attributes of news, opinion and audience engagement.

Radio New Zealand recently launched its ‘First Up’ programme with Indira Stewart at 5am. How is Newstalk ZB’s equivalent ‘Early Edition with Kate Hawkesby’ going?

Extremely well. Kate is number one total New Zealand on 26.8 percent and dominates 5am-6am. Kate has again shown us that she is a fantastic journalist, interviewer and opinion leader in the New Zealand media.

Talkback is known for its pulling power of an older audience. What is Newstalk ZB doing to draw in a younger audience?

Exciting new talent and bringing in the freshest content are key to bringing in a younger demographic, while not alienating our loyal, older listeners. We always look to challenge our audience with innovative story- telling on platforms that are relevant to them.

What is the focus for Newstalk ZB heading into the future? 

We will continue to ensure we have the best talent in all areas of the business including hosts, producers, reporters, newsreaders and commercial partnerships. We cover what matters to New Zealanders.

We’ll be posting the rest of the Hot List over the next few weeks. To get a print copy of the Hot List, subscribe here to NZ Marketing.

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