Digital radio launch a fantastic achievement: Des Decean retires

Austereo’s Director of Technologies Des Decean will retire on September 30 this year. Decean is one of a handful of engineering specialists who are responsible for the success of digital radio in Australia. He told radioinfo at the digital radio launch that Australia’s launch is a “fantastic achievement” and the smoothest roll out of digital radio anywhere in the world, and spoke to us about his career.

The amiable engineer does not plan to just sit back and listen to the radio in his retirement, he expects to be kept busy doing consulting work.


radioinfo: How long have you been with Austereo?

Decean: Thirty years next April. I commenced on April 5 1980, and was the first employee of the company.

radioinfo: Do you plan to do some consulting for Austereo and others after you leave?

Decean: Yes I will be consulting part time for Austereo for 12 months from September 30. I am also interested in providing consultancy services both to other broadcasters and to other countries that are contemplating the introduction of Digital radio.

radioinfo: Today was a culmination of one of your many great technology projects in your years with Austereo, the launch of digital radio. Has it been a long road?

Decean: Yes it has Steve. I was a member of the first Digital advisory board to the then minister for Communications in 1987. I have been consistently involved at government and industry level since then.

radioinfo: What are your thoughts on why the radio industry needs to be digital into the future?

Decean: Radio needs to move to digital to retain its relevance with consumers.

Radio’s competition comes from other platforms such as internet, mobile services Wireless, and portable players. These platforms all work to the continuous improvement model in order to maintain their competitiveness, presence and relevance to the consumer.

Radio needs to remain competitive with these platforms to maintain its place with consumers._

radioinfo: What other significant technological changes have you seen or worked on that you think have made a significant difference to the radio industry.

Decean: I am fortunate enough to have played a part in the rollout of both FM and DAB in Australia. Both have been major evolutionary milestones for radio.

Austereo was an early adopter of music storage and playout systems and worked closely with a key developer Computer Concepts in the USA to rapidly advance the development of DCS and later Maestro.

The design and construction of the AMP Broadcast Centre for the Austereo/ AMP joint venture was a significant project. This saw the development of the Klotz Digital Broadcast environment with the Klotz DC1 Console resulting in a collaborative design process between Austereo and Klotz Engineers.

I was a member of the World DAB task force that developed the DAB+ Standard. Along with Richard Morris of CRA and Peter Kepreotes of Broadcast Australia we represented the Australian broadcast industry in this significant development.

radioinfo: As you near retirement, who are the people you would most like to acknowledge who have made a difference to your work over the years.

Decean: I have been fortunate to employ and work with certainly Australia’s best and in many instances world best Broadcast Engineers. Austereo has been able to attract and nurture these people through a strong culture of engineering excellence, recognised importance of technology in the growth and development of the business, and a preparedness to invest in the future.

It is the Austereo Chairman Peter Harvie and CEO’s Paul Thompson and Michael Anderson who have supported me and encouraged this environment.

The list of people whom I have worked with and provided an environment of growth and development over the years is extensive and I am reluctant to mention names for fear of forgetting someone.

The list includes: David Goss; Steve Adler; Tim English; Ken Kyle; Larry O’Toole; Brett Kelly; Peter Bourke; Michael Blackburn; Ross Forgione; Sonya Norris and Adrian Harper.

I have also enjoyed working closely with Joan Warner, Kath Brown, Richard Morris and the team at CRA.

To work at industry level as I did as chair of the Digital Technical Advisory Committee (DTAC), for the rollout of DAB, was a challenging exercise! I quickly learnt to develop a posture of diplomacy and compromise in order to reach consensus on issues from a highly competitive industry membership.

The outcome was terrific and is being heralded as the smoothest rollout of DAB anywhere in the world. A fantastic achievement by CRA and the Australian Broadcast industry.


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