Radio Alive: Australia’s radio conference with a difference

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

Last week, the big Australian “Radio Alive” conference was in my home town of Brisbane. I popped along to it, and was quite pleasantly surprised.

The high quality of the event wasn’t the surprise. It’s always been a large, flash event. The first time I came to it was in 2007 in Melbourne, when their main speaker was Harry Shearer, best-known for being that guy who does the voices on The Simpsons, but also the guy who does the voices on “Le Show”, which is available on US public radio, and as a podcast.

Yes, “and as a podcast”. That’s probably the most popular sentence for a radio programme these days. Because isn’t everything available “as a podcast”?

The surprise this year at “Radio Alive” was that the first big set piece wasn’t about a radio programme. It was about a podcast – The Teacher’s Pet, which was hosted by a newspaper journalist. That journalist, Hedley Thomas, had no radio background, nor any radio experience.

It’s a ballsy and clever thing for a radio conference to start with something that wasn’t on the radio, and feature a print journalist with no radio experience. And the right thing to do. 




The conference had actually started with an announcement about a podcast ranker chart, an announcement about an agreement between Google (the smart-speaker market leader here) and the radio industry, and an overview of a “Share of Audio” study. Australians are listening to 7 minutes more audio a day (a not insubstantial 3% more), and podcasting had grown, we were told. Radio had slightly shrunk in share, we weren’t told, though listening has actually increased in real terms.

Podcasting was quite a big part of the day. A good part of the afternoon, which split into individual tracks, was given over to podcasting, too. And probably quite rightly.

Radio might believe, as iHeartRadio’s Bob Pittman said recently, that podcasting is its birthright: after all, radio has been producing audio for a hundred years, and knows a thing or two about how to make great-sounding content.

Podcasting is still only 7% of audio listening, but seems to attract rather more than its fair share of press coverage and excitement. Radio has much to learn from how, in spite of having a tiny fraction of the reach and total listening time, podcasting is captivating new listeners and advertisers alike. And podcasting has much to learn from the medium that still attracts 9 out of 10 of us every week.

Wonderful to see radio and podcasting together this year at Radio Alive. I look forward to much more of it, as audio continues to become more multiplatform in the future. 


About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at