Is Coles Radio In For A Shakeup?

1 May 2023 | 8:46 am | Staff Writer

After a decade, most of which it has topped the DAB+ ratings, Coles Radio is reportedly up for tender.

We've all been there. You're throwing your milk and bread in the trolley as you traverse the aisles looking for the 1/2 price signs when all of a sudden, 2 Unlimited's Get Ready For This comes over the speakers and you're transformed back to 1992. Then randomly you hear a new Australian artist. And then for some reason you get hit with the Purple People Eater

That's right, you could only be in one place. Coles. For the last decade, Nova has programmed and broadcast Coles Radio, the most eclectic mix of happy tunes you've ever heard. Back in 2014 the station launched with great fanfare, broadcasting on DAB+, meaning that not only could customers hear the station instore, but they could take the Coles experience back home with them and listen at any time they pleased. 

At the time, Nova CEO Cathy O'Connor said:

“We are thrilled to be creating an innovative and world class in-store and digital radio experience for Coles and in joining with them to market the service to advertisers,” she said.

"Advertisers will be able to deliver content through seven different streams for each state and territory, and Coles Radio will be able to tailor different messages to appeal to the specific needs of each market, in an effort to attract potential advertisers."

Today's AFR reports that the Coles Radio account is being put up for tender, with Coles exploring how it might make more cash from advertising on the popular channel. According to the report, the supermarket is looking at ways to make the service more customisable, allowing different advertising in various regions or specific stores. 

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Since launch, the station has unexpectedly sat at the top of the digital radio ratings for much of its lifespan, topping stations like Double J, R&B Fridays and Cada and proving to be a cultural phenomenon and a regular on the pages of The Betoota Advocate.  

In the latest ratings report, Coles Radio was heard by 339,000 people across the week at home on digital radio. Although it is no longer holding the #1 position, it remains one of the most listened to digital offerings in Australia. In 2019 Coles Radio claimed that an additional 5.7 million people listened to the station in stores every week, making it a potent marketing force. 

So why change things up? Well, money and competition of course. Since the advent of Coles Radio, other stores have gotten in on the game, with chains like Chemist Warehouse Remix and Woolworths Radio now coming to the party, creating a competitive marketplace for instore radio. Both of these stations are programmed by Nova's rival ARN (broadcaster of the top rating Kiis, Gold and WSFM stations), making them the most likely rivals to take the station, although it is understood that the chain is consulting widely with radio and instore music companies. 

Let's take a look at Woolworths and Coles' playlists over the past week to see what we can expect if there's a shakeup: 


1. Heaven - Niall Horan
2. 10:35 - Tiesto & Tate McRae
3. Therapy - Budjerah
4. Players - Coi Leray
5. Celestial - Ed Sheeran
6. Special - Lizzo
7. Don't Go Changing - Nick de la Hoyde
8. The Hard Way - Pnau & Khalid
9. Invincible - Royston Noelle
10. Good Time - Sheppard


1. Catalonia - Vance Joy
2. Flowers - Miley Cyrus
3. Love Again - The Kid Laroi
4. Problems - Matt Corby
5. Over For You - Morgan Evans
6. I Want You - Peking Duk ft. Darren Hayes
7. Trustfall - P!nk
8. You Know What I Need - Pnau & Troye Sivan
9. Calm Down - Rema
10. I'm Not Here To Make Friends - Sam Smith ft. Calvin Harris

The best thing? Both stations are already smashing out Australian tunes. With over half the top 10 punctuated by Aussie artists, its clear that while the songs are different, the programming strategies of the two major supermarkets are already reasonably aligned. 

Whatever happens, we can only hope that a couple of things stay the same. The commitment to Australian artists and the commitment to being the most relied-upon source of 2 Unlimited bangers.