How Today FM is looking to generate commercial success

‘A more balanced mic’, that’s one of the brand positions of Today FM, a new talk radio offering by MediaWorks that launched to market today.

The brainchild of Cam Wallace, Chief Executive Officer at MediaWorks, who has a clear vision for Today FM being a competitive talk station that can compete with the best in market. To execute this, he brought in Dallas Gurney – no stranger to the format – who has set out to not only build a reputable newsroom, but in the process bring onboard respected talent to give the brand its voice.

Talent like political journalist Tova O’Brien who headlines Today FM’s morning show produced by another big name in the industry, Carol Hirschfeld. The likes of O’Brien going head-to-head with Winston Peters on his running in the Tauranga bi-election during her first show is certainly going to make listeners what to tune in – even if only to hear another voice in morning talk.

MediaWorks, however, is hoping that the Today FM line-up is going to attract a new generation of talk radio listeners, and with it commercial success.

Its promise has already attracted brands who are keen to align with the new offering, including that of Generate Investment Management* who has come onboard to sponsor Tova Breakfast.

But, with no metrics to sell to potential advertisers, how is the MediaWorks leveraging its offering with potential advertisers?

Jaana Collins, General Manager – Agency at MediaWorks says that her team have worked hard to give clients a deep understanding of the brand’s direction and positioning. “It’s not been easy when you think about how we would normally go to market. It’s been largely an environmental sell for Today FM, and we’ve worked with our business to develop partnerships and activity that fit their objectives. Our full network of OOH, market leading radio brands and digital audio platform Rova have all been utilised along the way.”

Partnerships, Collins says, which have been built around content opportunities. “[This way] clients benefit from sponsorship elements in a traditional way, but they also get to become an integral part of [shows like Tova], its content and conversations,” she explains.

Jaana Collins.

“Tova and her team will have a relationship with Generate and an understanding of what they are about.  Radio is more than linear broadcast now – radio is content, social influence, digital and activation – MediaWorks can offer all of this to a client interested in radio, there’s just so many ways now to include it.”

To this end, the Generate team approached MediaWorks, keen to get involved from the onset. “We believe the best media partnerships are achieved when you are at the table early discussing context, content and sharing insights, so you have a deep understanding of what each other values right from launch. Generate’s purpose is to educate and empower Kiwi’s to help them achieve materially better financial outcomes. Partnering with Today FM allows us to have this conversation openly and talk directly to the questions Kiwis have, so we can help them better understand what it takes to reach their financial goals,” explains Henry Tongue, CEO at Generate Investment Management.

Such a partnership is new for Generate, not having sponsored any radio previously. However, working alongside Craig Spillane, MD at Bullseye Media, the investment management company is looking to leverage the deeper conversation/ connections listeners have with radio to further engage its audience.

“We are focusing on supporting all New Zealanders and championing honest open talk, which lends itself so well to radio. Radio gives us the opportunity to talk openly about the everyday finance and investment issues faced by regular Kiwis. We want to hear the questions that people have about investing and provide them with answers so they can make their own decisions,” adds Tongue.

“The things that are important to Tova; people, storytelling and reporting are the same conversations we’d like to have with our customers. Tova Breakfast is about helping New Zealanders navigate for an exciting future. Generate is about helping New Zealanders prepare financial goals to enjoy what’s ahead. So the fit evolves with the conversation.”

Henry Tongue.

Spillane says that the team at Generate is inspired by the brave, open approach that Today FM wants to take. “They want to provide honest balanced coverage of important issues, which Generate think is important. It is timely and presents an opportunity to build a community from the ground up with the team at Today FM. The idea of ‘Get involved and Generate together’ aligns with the nature of the station,” he says.

For MediaWorks, activating such key sponsorship opportunities will be important for the ongoing success of the Today FM brand.  

Collins says that apart from the obvious commercial reality of revenue generation, it’s been great to have launch partners on board from the outset for confidence internally and externally. “I don’t think our commercial teams expected that we would have this many fantastic clients on board at time for launch – it’s a testament to the belief in the product and we have been lucky to have clients willing and wanting to come on the journey.”

She’s excited by the opportunity Today FM presents for clients to engage with news and talk in a different way, which she says in turn creates more opportunity to do things differently.

This aligns well with the Generate brand who want to hear what New Zealanders are talking about and join the conversation. “Make sense of it all. Demystify financial jargon. Grow our Generate KiwiSaver Community just as Today FM grows its audience. Contribute positively to a modern and progressive NZ,” says Tongue.

*The Issuer is Generate Investment Management Ltd. PDS is available at generatewealth.co.nz/pds

About Author

David Nothling-Demmer is Editorial Director - Business Titles at ICG Media. Titles include: StopPress, NZ Marketing magazine, Idealog and The Register.

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