Paul Henry pushes up Radio Live ratings

By Hayley Hannan

Paul Henry at work in the studio, hosting the 'Drive' programme at Radio Live. Photo / Janna Dixon
Paul Henry at work in the studio, hosting the 'Drive' programme at Radio Live. Photo / Janna Dixon

Controversial broadcaster Paul Henry has pushed up listener figures for RadioLive's drive show, but its total audience figures are still less than half its competitors.

Commercial radio stations released their listener figures yesterday, the first since Henry returned to the radio waves.

The figures are from Research International, which compares listener numbers for commercial radio stations across the country.

The National Commercial Radio Survey figures are the first set published since Henry rejoined the RadioLive team in July this year.

The survey covering the August 13 to September 23 period.

MediaWorks talk general manager Jana Rangooni said the figures for Henry's drive show from 3pm to 6pm daily had grown by 10,000 listeners, a growth of 17 per cent.

She said the figures were "possibly slightly more" of an increase than expected.

"We've been really realistic in our expectations and I was just very happy to see any growth above 10 per cent."

The figures were compared with the last listener survey conducted over February 13 to March 26, when former chief executive Brent Impey had been filling in on the slot.

Asked whether she thought the network's investment in Henry had paid off, she replied "yes, we're very happy to have him."

Henry, who resigned under pressure from TVNZ after a series of provocative comments, reportedly signed a RadioWorks contract for a hefty sum to rejoin the station.

The Radio Network (TRN) group general manager content David Brice said while his company had lost audience share in the afternoon 4-7pm slot, the network numbers for NewstalkZB remained at more than double that of Radio Live's.

He said the afternoon slot had a total listenership of 151,900 for the afternoon period while MediaWorks had a total listenership of 63,700.

"Newstalk ZB had yet another fantastic result, and Radio Live has not substantially altered its position in any way, shape or form as a result of having Paul Henry there."

He said Newstalk ZB's afternoon listenership had gone down 21,700 listeners but it was hard know if they had turned their dials to Henry.

Media commentator Brian Edwards said that RadioLive could have expected a larger increase in listeners with Henry.

"I think that probably RadioLive would have an expectation that his notoriety would make a substantial difference to their ratings. My view tended to be that that was likely to be a very slow process if that happened at all, that in fact Paul Henry was very much in fact a TV personality rather than a radio personality."

"An additional 10,000 listeners is not really huge."

He said the radio format might not allow him to be the outrageous person he was on the television screen.

"The other thing I think, is that it can be very difficult to shift audience listening patterns. RadioLive is a radio station that has done a lot of shifting and trying, and working out different people and so on, and it doesn't seem to work. The ZB network seems to have the thing tied up right throughout the day, and those patterns are extremely difficult to change."

He said that once Henry was back on TV, with TV3 next year, his radio ratings could improve.

MediaWorks' The Edge remains the most popular radio music station in the country with 428,200 listeners nationwide, while TRN's NewstalkZB is the most popular overall, with an audience share of 12.8 per cent.

- APNZ

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