Bloody marvellous! John Campbell and Morning Report lead RNZ to a ratings resurgence

John Campbell re-joined RNZ in September 2015 to host a revamped Checkpoint.
CHRIS MCKEEN / FAIRFAX NZ

John Campbell re-joined RNZ in September 2015 to host a revamped Checkpoint.

The "king of breakfast radio" Mike Hosking has been dethroned by state broadcaster RNZ's Morning Report programme.

RNZ has attracted the highest national audience against commercial radio news rivals in all key time slots, results from a survey released this week show.

It was the first time in 17 years RNZ has been included in a radio survey with its commercial competitors.

Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast sits about 30,000 listeners behind RNZ's Morning Report.
SUPPLIED

Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking Breakfast sits about 30,000 listeners behind RNZ's Morning Report.

The survey by GfK showed RNZ's flagship Morning Report programme, hosted by former TV personality Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson from 6am-9am, had about 386,000 listeners.

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In May, Newstalk ZB reported that Mike Hosking was the "king of breakfast radio" with 265,000 listeners.

Morning Report hosts Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson attract about 386,000 weekly listeners.
MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

Morning Report hosts Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson attract about 386,000 weekly listeners.

The latest GfK results show Mike Hosking Breakfast, which runs from 6am to 8.30am, was second to Morning Report by about 30,000 listeners.

RNZ shows Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan, Jesse Mulligan in afternoons and Checkpoint with John Campbell were all leading their time slots against rival stations.

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson said he was pleased RNZ and commercial stations were now included in the same research.

"This is one that the whole radio industry uses as currency," he said.

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Mediaworks-owned pop station The Edge was the top ranked station nationwide with 663,000 listeners tuning in each week followed by RNZ with 529,000 listeners.

Newstalk ZB was close behind with 504,000 listeners.

Campbell said it was great to see RNZ's commitment to journalism paying off. "I'm just delighted everyone's doing so well," he said.

RNZ's number one position across the board shows the public had an appetite for robust and independent journalism about important issues rather than "writing endlessly about the Kardashians or The Bachelor", he said.

"These were some of the tensions that existed at MediaWorks around what people wanted Campbell Live to be and what we were not prepared to be."

RNZ receives about $32 million in annual Government funding – a figure which has remained frozen since National was elected in 2008.

Since Thompson joined the company in 2013 RNZ has undergone dramatic change, including the departure of long-standing staff members and the introduction of younger, more well known faces including Espiner, John Campbell, Jesse Mulligan and Wallace Chapman.

Some programmes and services have been cut and other programmes, such as Checkpoint with John Campbell, have been relaunched.

There has also been a much greater focus on digital, with the launch of its youth news website The Wireless and, more recently, a refreshed website.

The broadcaster is also dipping its toes in the commercial space sharing content with MSN for the past 12 months and just this week announcing a deal with Fairfax Media to publish RNZ audio and video on Stuff, in return for advertising revenue.

Thompson said the advertising dollar generated from sharing its content was "a few thousand bucks a year".

"If you were just doing it for the money you wouldn't bother," Thompson said.

The important thing was to raise awareness of RNZ, he said.

RNZ radio and online would always remain advertisement free, he said.

"Our commercial free status is really important."

Media consultant Tim Murphy said commercial stations probably always knew RNZ had a larger audience.

The RNZ result illustrated that taxpayer money was going towards a service for which there was strong demand.

"They get to show that what they're doing is striking a chord and it is for the public good," Murphy said.

"It's also a journalistic and a content validation for them."

The addition of big names like Campbell and Espiner had strengthened RNZ and it was happy with the impact they were having, he said.

The GfK survey was conducted over 18 weeks and sampled nearly 11,00 people aged 10 years and over.

 - Sunday Star Times

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