Sounding off: Mai FM’s street cred goes mainstream

As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we’ve asked a few of the company’s programme directors about the performance of their brands, the state of radio and the importance of digital channels. And the rising tide of hip hop and RnB in popular culture is lifting the Mai FM boat along with it and attracting a big, young audience around the nation, says Philip Bell. 

A station that skews young with its demographic, Mai FM is nonetheless on the upward swing, having added 17,500 listeners aged 10+ in the last 18 months, and it is strong in the 18-34 demographic where it holds fourth place in both listenership numbers and share of listening.

With an audience that is both young and diverse, the station has its finger on the pulse of what—and who—is hot or not. Programme director, hip-hop pioneer and sneaker lover Philip Bell talks about how the brand’s digital strategy and recent market extensions round out the picture.

  • Check out all the T2 survey results here

Q. Mai draws a young and diverse crowd, and it’s particularly strong in the increasingly multicultural Auckland. Do advertisers pay them enough mind or is this audience often overlooked?

There’s no question that Auckland is an incredibly multicultural city. With that said, and the results we gained in the survey, Mai’s reach is considerable. Having the number one breakfast show 18-34 in Auckland (a 12.6-percent share), shows the station is reaching literally everyone – regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status. Advertisers certainly focus on our core target (15-34) age group and we have worked on multiple projects with great clients. Mai has become the go-to station.

Q. What’s behind the growth of hip hop and RnB music in the last few years in particular? 

Hip hop and RnB music are the coolest genres on the planet, and have been for some time. From Kylie Jenner dating Tyga, to Drake holding chart-breaking records, to Nicki Minaj featuring on Maroon 5 singles, hip hop and RnB are embedded in every part of pop culture and shows no sign of slowing down. The hot music cycle Mai is in has been on the increase for years—and now that ‘popular culture’ is also embracing the music means that Mai has broadened its appeal considerably.

Q. Tell us a bit more about Mai’s extension into new markets and how that’s paid off?

The growth of Mai nationally has been the most pleasing part of my role. People understand the Mai brand and what it means—and obviously the great music we play. Our launches in Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui and Gisborne in the last two years have gained amazing results, and in just one year we have achieved a four percent share in the Waikato. I’m Hamilton born and bred, so I knew Waikato would love the format.

Q. How central to Mai’s strategy for growth is the digital audience? 

It’s a huge part of everything we do now. In 2015 everything requires a fully integrated strategy that includes all forms of media. It starts with our on air broadcast, but must include FacebookTwitter, Instagram, website and VOD, which are all things Mai has become extremely good at. We’ve seen massive growth at Mai in the last 24 months, and [have]also changed the way we activate our business. This is reflected in our integrated business where Mai is one of the company stand-outs in growth on this side of the business. 

  • This story is part of a content partnership with MediaWorks. 

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