Radio survey: Newstalk ZB on top as listeners turn to airwaves in the wake of Christchurch attacks

Commercial numbers alone have also risen slightly to 3.34 million, compared to 3.32 million in the previous survey – an increase in 21,700 people.

Newstalk ZB shook up the top 10 lineup, climbing from fourth to second and bumping stalwart More FM down to fourth with a 18,800 loss. The Edge remains on top with 608,500 listeners (10+), with Newstalk ZB closing the gap with 555,600 listeners.   


Newstalk ZB

Newstalk ZB saw the biggest growth across the board, climbing 48,300 listeners since the final survey last year, reaching a total cumulative audience of 555,600.

The Mike Hosking Breakfast show sits in the top spot for the time slot nationwide, with 408,400 listeners tuning in between 6am and 9am, an increase of 46,800. The weekday morning show has also come in at the top spot for station share, at 17 percent, up 2.2 percent from last survey.

In general, Newstalk ZB has also come in top of nationwide station share at 12 percent – putting it a country mile ahead of its commercial radio competitors.

NZME managing editor Shayne Currie says the latest results show the hard work of the Newstalk ZB team.

“The Mike Hosking Breakfast share is at an 18 year high nationwide, and we’re at an eight year high for Newstalk ZB overall in Auckland – which is a key market. It’s a phenomenal result when you think about all the changes that have happened in the last 12 months,” he says.

While Newstalk ZB often comes in first for station share in Auckland, this survey it has extended its lead nationally, coming in number one in Wellington and Christchurch which NZME group director of entertainment Dean Buchanan describes as “the trifecta”.

Marcus Lush Nights, from 8pm till 11.59pm weekdays, also punches above its weight in the evening slot. The show has a 20.7 percent station share nationwide, light years ahead of its the show’s closest competitor, Magic Nights with Leah Panapa on Magic Talk, which holds a 9.4 percent share.

While Newstalk ZB is up, NZME’s top pop station ZM has seen huge losses this survey, which Buchanan says shows the natural move towards news and analysis following the terror attacks in Christchurch.

“Talk stations are on top at the moment, and we saw a kick for the contemporary radio stations and ZM lost audiences. It stands to reason the period we’ve just had, with an appetite for news and current affairs in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack,” Buchanan says.

Buchanan says the big fluctuations in the survey further prove the importance of radio – especially in times of national crisis.

“It’s an interesting reversal of the whole medium, in tough times we all realise how important radio is. In times like this audiences learn what they can get from radio is so different from something like Spotify, and other mediums like Facebook, which is quite clearly not in touch with everyday New Zealanders. It [radio]has shown its relevance over the last few months.”

Newstalk ZB has a number of changes afoot in the coming year, including longtime broadcasters Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford reuniting on the network later in the year. The pair hosted a top rating breakfast show on ZM (91ZM Christchurch at the time) in the mid 90s before jumping ship to More FM in 1997.

The Sound

The Sound was the biggest loser in the November 2018 survey, dropping 31,600 listeners down to 357,900. But significant growth in cumulative audience sees the network clawing its way out of the red, rising 23,400 listeners this survey to 381,300.

While the station no longer sits in the top 10 lineup (falling to 11th), this has more to do with the addition of Magic Music & Talk, than a large drop in numbers.

In the final survey for 2018, The Sound had decreases across all demographics apart from the inconsequential 10-17 age group, however all demographics have seen considerable increases this time around. The 18-34 and 25-44 age brackets both had 7,500 increases, with the biggest increase coming in the 55-74 demographic which grew 13,700 to 125,700.

The Sounds sits in fourth position for overall station share nationwide with a 0.9 percent increase to 7.6 percent.

Workdays with Heather Keats, the networks 10am-2pm enjoys a 9.4 percent station share nationwide, equalling The Breeze in the time slot and coming second to Newstalk ZB.

Radio Hauraki

Despite sitting in 12 position of total commercial audience numbers, Radio Hauraki has enjoyed healthy growth since the last survey. The network is now up 20,700 to 224,200 and also comes in 12 for station share at 2.8 percent.

Radio Hauraki’s biggest market, the lucrative 25-54 demographic had an increase in 12,300 listeners to 158,000, but the network also saw increases across all demographics. The 18-34 bracket climbed 8,000 to 88,700, and the 25-44 bracket is up 9,800 to 113,900.

Fan favourite drive show, Daily Bhuja with Leigh Hart, Jason Hoyte and Matt Ward remains the network’s top show with 119,400 tuning in, an increase in 7,100 since the previous survey. After a radio break, the show is restarting with a lineup change on April 29.

Honourable mentions

Magic Talk and Music

Making its debut in the radio survey the new Magic Talk and Magic Music (after the Magic brand expanded to incorporate RadioLive) the network comes in at the number three spot for station share at 8.1 percent. However it is worth noting that Radio Live and Magic’s station share in the final survey for 2018 were 3.4 and 4.8 respectively, showing that the combined network has retained share rather than increased.

Despite changing frequencies in Auckland, Magic increased its share by 0.4 percent to reach 5.6 percent.

MediaWorks radio group content director Leon Wratt says the team is thrilled with results of Magic’s debut.

“That idea has worked, and it was awesome to see it go up in Auckland. We had a frequency change there so that was the most radical change with the rebrand. It’s a young brand but it’s building really quickly which is great to see.”

Magic Talk & Music’s combined audience is up 8,300 to 416,700 placing it in seventh position for cumulative audience. This is down slightly from the combined numbers of Radio Live’s and Magic’s results in the last survey, which reached 427,600.


NZME’s iHeartRadio continues to connect Kiwi fans with their favourite music and radio personalities through thousands of live radio stations, custom artist stations and podcasts. Registrations remain in growth mode, up 16 percent to just more than 863,000 registered users and with its podcast audience doubling year-on-year according to the iHeartMedia report for March 2019.

NZME chief commercial officer Matt Headland says the company’s digital offering helps broaden the appeal for its audience.

“Achieving growth across multiple stations, day parts, regions and demographics shows our teams are producing content that is hitting the mark. When you consider the reach of NZME’s overall audience across print, radio and digital, NZME delivers for our clients time and time again.”

In order to keep up with NZME’s digital offering, MediaWorks is rolling out the next innovation phase of its digital audio streaming platforming Rova, with a suite of new features including: ‘listen live’ to stations, pop-up music channels and podcasts, the ability to ‘favourite’ a channel or podcast, a sleep timer, and improved search functionality. The new Rova is currently available on the App Store for iOS and will be rolling out on Google Play in the coming weeks.

Rova has gained a further 57,00 downloads since November 2018, recording 442,000 total app downloads to date. The number of unique monthly users has also increased to 121,000 – an increase of 28,000 users per month.

Wratt says MediaWorks had to find a new technology partner to build the new app, and the project has been 12 months in the making.

“The connectivity is so important as well as the new features and products. It’s taken time to get to where were are now and the fact we can deliver a new app will be great for the future of Rova.”



Previously NZME’s biggest station, ZM has seen the largest loses in the first survey for 2019, dropping 38,000 to 458,400. The network had been rising the ranks last year, approaching its main competitor The Edge when it reached 516,300 listeners in September 2018.

Now with a station share of 5 percent, ZM sits in the 11th spot for station share nationally. Bree and Clint in the weekday 3pm-7pm slot had the biggest drop in audience, down 25,600 to 235,800 and a 5.9 percent station share. It’s competitor, The Edge’s Jono, Ben and Sharyon have a 7.4 percent share in the timeslot and 291,000 listeners (down 23,600 from the previous survey.

The network’s flagship morning show with Fletch, Vaughan and Megan in the weekday 6am-10am slot also suffered a big loss, down to 268,100 listeners – a 22,000 drop from the previous results at 290,100. The breakfast show’s station share also dropped to 5.9 percent – on par with The Edge’s Dom, Meg and Randell offering.

However, NZME are unphased by ZM’s losses, with Buchanan saying it was to be expected given the climate in New Zealand in recent months.

More FM

More FM’s downward trend continues as the network was this survey’s second biggest loser. In the September 2018 survey, More FM was the biggest winner, reporting total audience growth of 20,300 to 586,700 listeners. The station had been growing steadily over 2018, with a growth of 60,833 listeners throughout the year, until it dropped off in the final survey – down to 558,600, a drop of 28,100.

Now in the first survey of 2019, the network has fallen even more, down to 539,800 listeners –  an 18,800 drop. More FM has also dropped in overall station share, down to 7.4 percent nationwide – dropping 2.2 percent in station share among the critical 25-44 demographic.

Despite dropping 4,700 listeners down to 322,500, More FM’s weekday breakfast show managed to come in second overall in the 6am-9am slot. The Breakfast Club with Gary, Lana, JMac, Sam, Bondy and Speedy also managed to score the highest among the popular stations, earning a 9.2 percent national station share – coming second only to Newstalk ZB. However, the Jase and Jay-Jay Driving You Home show wasn’t so lucky, dropping 20,500 listeners to 261,300 – it has a station share of 7.4 percent, down from 8.2 in the last survey of 2018.


Hop Hop and contemporary R&B network Flava had an 18,800 drop in cumulative audience, down to 175,100 after it approached 200,000 in the 2018 surveys. It also dropped to 14th position for national station share, down to 1.7 percent from 2.5 percent.

However despite loses in most demographics, Flava actually sees a growth in its target 18-34 and 25-44 markets. The age brackets show a 3,700 and 2,200 growth respectively.  

Wake Up Call with Daz and Ast, the stations 6am-9am weekday offering showed the biggest drop in numbers, down 17,100 to 83,900 and a 1.4 percent station share in the time slot. Freeride with Alex King, which runs from 9am till 3pm and offers 50 minutes non-stop music every hour, also lost traction, losing 10,900 listeners between 9am-12pm and 12,100 between 12pm and 4pm.


In the final survey of last year, Christian radio station Rhema recorded the second largest growth for total New Zealander listeners (10+), up 12,200 to 84,400. However, the station could not retain the growth, losing almost all of late last year’s audience numbers and coming in with 73,200.

The station places in 18th overall for cumulative audience, and 19th overall for station share.


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Caitlin Salter is a freelance writer who contributes to various publications at ICG Media.

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