Radio Australia of vital importance: new CEO Mike McCluskey

Mike McCluskey has been appointed the new CEO of Radio Australia. An ABC veteran of 25 years, McCluskey is passionate about radio and sees a bright future for Australia’s international radio network. He speaks this week to radioinfo about the priorities for the network as it adapts to the new media environment and continues rebuilding its presence in the Asia Pacific region.


McCluskey says Radio Australia is “of vital importance to the people of Australia” because it delivers content to both urban and remote communities in Asia and the Pacific that reflects the values and opinions of Australian people. The network delivers content that is “independent and meaningful.”


“It is of prime importance, in terms of our place as a member of the Asian and Pacific for Australia to have content that serves the interests of our neighbouring countries and also delivers the perspectives of us as a nation.  We deliver independent content and also break news and cover emergencies to assist in capacity building and independently informing the Asia and Pacific with content that matters to the people who live in these regions.”


radioinfo:  What are your priorities in this new job?


McCluskey: To strengthen content that meets the interests and aspirations of the diverse communities in which we broadcast and to ensure that we produce content that is of strong interest to targeted groups as well as wider audiences.  

We will focus on developing content distribution on a wider variety of platforms so that we are available to people relying on short wave in remote communities, but also available to those using FM Radio, online and mobile platforms.

Radio Australia is a brand that has been in existence for 70 years. It has been connecting with people in Asia and the Pacific in a very, very powerful way for a long period of time and at times in crisis, in times of huge stories and just in times when people want a good friend to listen to… in both English and the language that people are using in the country where they are listening. We want to continue to do that, but strengthening our capacity to deliver in this very dramatically changing world.


radioinfo:    Are there changes planned at RA?


McCluskey: There is a change in the way people consume media and that means people are accessing content through radios, through televisions, through the internet via computer, through mobile platforms and in many ways through vodcasting and podcasting type activity, and on demand. So audiences are changing and they are changing in Asia and the Pacific just as they are changing elsewhere.

What we have to understand is how our audiences are consuming the media and then also start to say how are we going to deliver it to those people in a way that is meaningful to them, no matter where they live.

What’s important though is not just the technology, it is what we deliver, so we have to refocus on our content continuously so that we know what we are delivering has power and meaning to the people no matter where they are.
We are working with all the program teams to come up with strategies that will make Radio Australia content much more relevant to Asia and Pacific Audiences, while maintaining language and content diversity.  We are engaging the whole of the RA teams in this process



Mike McCluskey started in the ABC as a rural reporter in Tasmania in the early 1980s, “reporting on the changes that were taking place in agriculture and rural industries in rural communities.”

He worked as a reporter and journalist in various ABC regional stations, then as a morning presenter, an executive producer and later as station manager for various ABC Local Radio stations. McCluskey also worked with the New Guinea Broadcasting Corporation as part of the media development initiative project, and was most recently State Manager in NSW.


Speaking on Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific program recently, McCluskey explained his passion for radio:

“When you think about it and there are several things about radio that is wonderful. It is a personable media, a one-to-one relationship. It is actually one-to-one with me as the listener, as the consumer. I feel the personal relationship to you and that is powerful.

“The second thing that is really important about radio and audio delivery services where there are podcasting or radio, in other words, is it real time or is it recorded and at a later time you are consuming it, which means you can do other things while you’re consuming that media. Those two things are very powerful when combined. A personal media that allows you to consume it when you’re doing other things.

“Another element is that you are able to deliver it anywhere. One of the things about television and indeed the internet is that requires power, it requires electricity and it requires your full attention, but it also requires you to have the infrastructure, a quite expensive infrastructure in some situations. Radio still offers you the opportunity to be able to deliver the content, to people no matter where they live and through battery operators systems if required during emergency for example, that is particularly important to communities where power can go down very, very easily. And as we know in some sections of our audiences in Asia and the Pacific, power is not as reliable as you might like to think it could be and when the power is down, radio is dead.”