Joan Warner comments on Crikey’s Digital Radio article

In an open letter to Crikey, Warner strikes back for Commercial Radio: I would like to comment on the ill-informed piece Friday’s Crikey entitled Digital radio already yesterday’s news as net rules the waves. I always question the motivation and bonafides of those who hide behind anonymity, particularly when they get the facts so wrong

The real story is:

  1. Free to air broadcast radio is healthy and extremely popular with 97% of Australians listening every week;
  2. 1.3 million people have adopted free to air digital in an incredibly short space of time;
  3. nearly 1 million DAB+ receivers sold also in a short space of time;
  4. listening to radio via a DAB+ device continues to increase (12 hours 40 minutes last survey);
  5. listening to radio online/streaming sits consistently at around 5 and a half hours, has been around for a lot longer than DAB+ and has not moved much over the past five years;
  6. radio is maintaining its share of ad revenue in the face of incredible competition because it has retained its popularity and thus effectiveness across all age groups;
  7. radio stations have adapted and adopted new ways to connect with listeners with great success including the use of streaming;
  8. technically it is impossible at present for an average breakfast show audience of say 350,000 to be able to listen LIVE and simultaneously to the same online stream with any chance of quality.

Your anonymous letter writer, describes AM listeners as “radio’s rusted-on seniors” and is once again wrong.  AM listening attracts a broad demographic and like their FM counterparts they are embracing DAB+ sound quality, additional station options and added information on screen with scrolling text headlines. 

Radio is a part of Australians’ everyday lives.  It’s live, intimate, informative and entertaining. Listeners don’t want to listen to a UK or USA  station online as they get to work.  They want to know what’s happening in their local area, what’s going to affect their day, as they make their way to work, which is why breakfast radio continues to attract more listeners than breakfast TV or the listening on the internet.

Unlike some industries, radio has not been afraid to adapt and embrace new technology.   Digital Radio, the internet, podcasts, phone and tablet apps have all  been cleverly integrated into radio, so that the loyal listener base can listen to their favourite radio station whatever they are doing. 

I do find it interesting that there are still a few people out there that just cannot, or do not want to, accept the indisputable truth :

  • radio is thriving;
  • audiences across all age groups love their local radio stations and radio stars;
  • radio can and does connect with audiences across ALL platforms;
  • listeners still use broadcast as the main means of accessing radio content;
  • radio is continuing to successfully adapt and evolve using both online and broadcast; and,
  • importantly, radio commands a level of  brand/station loyalty that very few other media achieve.


Joan Warner

Chief Executive Officer

Commercial Radio Australia Ltd