July 10, 2010

Melbourne: 3KZ, 3KKZ

3KZ was Melbourne’s third commercial radio station when it launched on 8 December 1930.  The significance of the call-sign ‘KZ’ is unknown, although the station did have ties to the Labor Party which had ‘K’ in all of its radio station call-signs.

The station’s original broadcast frequency was 1350 kHz, moving to 1180 kHz in 1935 and then to 1179 kHz in 1978.

By the 1980s, 3KZ had settled into a popular ‘hits and memories’ format with a playlist focused on the hits of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  The station also ran one of the most successful sticker promotions ever to be conducted in Melbourne, with the familiar heart-shaped 3KZ logo plastered all over Melbourne:


By the end of the ‘80s, a decade where FM radio was becoming the dominant radio medium, 3KZ more than held its own with strong ratings figures, usually sitting around the top 3 radio stations in Melbourne.  But, despite its popularity, it could not fight against the FM band forever and when the opportunity came to bid for an FM conversion licence in 1989, 3KZ bid $32 million for the privilege. 


3KZ was the highest bidder for one of the two FM conversion licences in Melbourne and chose to convert to the 104.3 MHz frequency which would place it between Melbourne’s existing commercial FM stations, 3FOX (101.9 MHz) and 3MMM (105.1 MHz).

At 12.00am on 1 January 1990, 3KZ re-launched as KZFM (call-sign: 3KKZ).  With 3KZ proven popular on the AM band, there was not much need to alter much of the station’s format in converting to FM, so the station kept its ‘hits and memories’ playlist.


Presenting Melbourne radio listeners with their first new commercial FM station in almost ten years, the conversion to FM paid an immediate dividend.  In the first ratings survey for 1990, KZFM recorded a rating of 14.6 per cent – bringing an end to an almost three-year run at the top for 3FOX – and an increase of more than three points from the last survey as 3KZ.

But as sharp as KZFM’s rise to the top was, its popularity was short-lived.  By the second survey for 1990, 3FOX was back at #1 and KZFM had dropped to third place.  KZ endured further decreases over the next four surveys, and by mid-1991 the station was sitting on a rating of 7.7 per cent, as other FM stations had emulated part of KZ’s playlist and more modern hits were creeping into KZ’s format, thereby weakening their position.  It was now rating lower than it had been on the AM band and now with the additional pressure of meeting the interest repayments on its $32 million loan that it used to fund the FM conversion bid.

In October 1991, KZFM re-focused on the hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s and re-branded itself as Gold 104 – a move that offered a definite point of difference from the other FM stations and would return ratings increases, but not enough to stop it falling into receivership.  The station later ended up in the hands of the Austereo radio network (which also owned 3FOX) before being sold to the Australian Radio Network which already owned rival station TTFM (call-sign: 3TTT).

Website: Gold 104.3

No comments: