3AW and ABC Melbourne top year’s final radio ratings

When lockdown ended, Melburnians started to relax — including in their choice of radio listening.

The final ratings survey of 2021, released on Tuesday morning, suggests we were a city waiting to exhale, and perhaps listen to some tunes and pandemic-free FM banter. After two years of relentlessly grim news, a sizeable number of listeners left news-and-talkback giants 3AW and ABC Melbourne, which both recorded audience falls across the schedule.

The winners? Several stations on the FM dial, which ticked upwards as the year drew to a close with people enjoying long-awaited freedom to think about something other than lockdown rules and pandemic predictions.

3AW radio host Neil Mitchell has wrapped 31 years in the Mornings slot with a 17.9 per cent share.Credit:Joe Armao

In the overall AM battle, the top two remained the same as they have all year but the audience drop-off was significant.

For 3AW, which has had a huge year, that meant an audience share of 16.6 per cent, down 2.3 per cent from the last survey. The ABC was on 10.1 per cent, down nearly two percentage points on its lockdown peak.

In the flagship time slots, the results were the same: the winners unchanged, but a decline all round.

ABC’s Virginia Trioli.Credit:Kristoffer Paulsen

Neil Mitchell, wrapping an extraordinary 31 years in the Mornings slot, ended 2021 with a 17.9 per cent share, down from the previous two surveys when he broke the 20 per cent mark (21.3 in survey seven and 20.7 in survey six.) His ABC rival Virginia Trioli was steadier on 13.3 per cent. In the previous two surveys she hit 13.9 and 14.2.

In Breakfast, where 3AW’s ratings powerhouse Ross Stevenson and Russel Howcroft have been nudging a stunning quarter of the radio audience in recent surveys, the final ladder of the year has them on 22.8 per cent, down from 24.3 last time.

And in AM Drive, 3AW’s Tom Elliott held on to top spot but was also down, from 16.3 per cent to 13. On the ABC, Raf Epstein was down to 9.2 per cent — a decline of 3.4 per cent from his lockdown peak of 12.6.

In the FM race, it was once again Gold 104.3 out front, and then the rest — but for the runners-up there were signs of a pre-summer uptick.

Gold won overall on 10.1 per cent, down from 10.9.

But its rivals all picked up audience. Nova 100 leapt from 6.5 per cent to 8.2; Smooth was up one point to 8 per cent; Fox gained from 5.5 to 6.6; KIIS 1011 was up from 4.6 per cent to 5.6; and Triple M rose from 4 per cent to 4.8.

For Gold’s Breakfast host Christian O’Connell, it was 13 survey wins on the trot despite a small drop from 8.6 per cent to 8. He was followed by Fifi, Fev and Nick on Fox 101.9 (a big leap, from 4.7 per cent to 6.6); Smooth and Nova were almost tied in the slot (6.3 and 6.1), followed by KIIS (up a little to 5 per cent); and Triple M (3.6 up from 4.6).

In FM Drive, Gold’s Gavin Miller thumped all comers with a steady 10.9 per cent share. Fox’s Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little were up from 7.3 to 8.1, followed by Nova’s Kate Ritchie, Tim Blackwell and Joel Creasey (7.0); Smooth’s Byron Webb (6.9); KIIS (6.8 up from 5.2) and Triple M (steady on 5 per cent).

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