The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015


With the recent launch of Double J, the ABC’s Triple J has closed the circle on its radio brand, creating a three-headed popular music beast that can bag teens all the way through to the middle-aged. Lars Brandle takes a closer look under the Corporation’s bonnet.

When Triple J took a hit in the audience ratings in early 2012, many folks with an eye on the radio sector suspected Triple J was finally losing the plot. Nielsen had published evidence that some of the station’s listeners were turning off in Sydney, and Melbourne was becoming a headache. TMN wrote at the time, “…a Triple J station for Generation X. It’s that demographic which could become a Triple J dominion in years to come.” Fast forward to now, and Triple J’s vertically integrated empire has Double J under its wing, with a view to capturing that older audience, the Gen Xers.

Dig Music had been online since 2005, but was drifting and had little cache. The digital station provided ABC management an opportunity to pursue a decades-long “Triple J 2” concept without having to create it from the ground up – and so Double J came to be. “We’re very fortunate to have got the timing and the concept right to get Double J kick started in 2014,” says Chris Scaddan, manager of Triple J and Double J.

The station began broadcasting on April 30, complementing Triple J and the Unearthed platform for independent artists, which flicked the switch on its digital channel in October 2011, but hasn’t been without its detractors (quality control being one persistent complaint).

Double J’s strategy is to cater for those 30-50-years-olds, an audience which has traditionally been difficult for the broader ABC to reach.

There’s a recognition that the “older end of our audience deserve their own station to play them new music and the best sounds they grew up with,” explains Scaddan. “The aim is also to serve the Australian Arts community and the music industry by giving a national audience to acts that have a more mature sound than those we play on Triple J.”

The main Triple J station boasts some 40% homegrown programming. Double J’s self-imposed domestic content quota will start at 35%, claims Meagan Loader, Double J’s Content Director. “We’d expect there to be a crossover of only about 10% between the two stations’ playlists and on Double J we’re endeavouring to play 70% new music that specifically appeals to an over-30 audience,” she says. “We’ll focus on new music, but also look back at previous decades and play songs and artists that shaped – and are still shaping – the lives and musical interests of our audience.”

Music discovery is at the centre of its game-plan. “Part of our aim is to increase exposure and airplay for artists who target a more mature demographic who previously didn’t have a national radio network to support them. The music directors of all three networks talk to each other about new music daily and Double J is already adding a couple of Unearthed artists each week, as well as other independent and unsigned artists we find,” she continues.

Double J’s launch hasn’t been without its hiccups. And the odd mini- disaster, like when the station endured a few long moments of dead-air: a “minor technical teething issue,” says Loader. Of greater note is the impending July exit of ABC Director of Radio, Kate Dundas, one of the support pillars for Double J. Without her input and support, it’s likely the station wouldn’t exist. The announcement of her departure came April 27, after Double J’s launch.

Triple J has endured vocal criticism in recent times. Accusations have been hurled of an unfair advantage, and the “big M” – monopoly. Scaddan bats away comments from detractors. “It’s kind of ridiculous. Calling it a monopoly implies there’s some kind of intent to shut out competitors or something along those lines. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. Criticism of flagship Triple J doesn’t stop there. There have been claims that Richard Kingsmill…….

The above article is an excerpt only of a much broader feature in the June issue of the Australian Music Industry Quarterly. To read the full article in your free copy click here

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