Comment from Peter Saxon.
The newly appointed CEO of CRA, Ford Ennals, has wasted no time putting his own stamp on commercial radio’s peak body – or should we now say, commercial radio and audio’s peak body. Only an Englishman would have the audacity to replace Australia with Audio!
Nonetheless, it was the right move.
However, unlike incoming state governments that prioritise new logos for the train network over, say, actually fixing the trains, there’s some real substance behind the exhaustive creative that must have gone into changing the name from CRA to CRA. That substance was on show at the Commercial Radio and Audio conference last Friday – the format of which had undergone a complete overhaul.
Gone are the tutorials and workshops, the keynote addresses and the often dud celebrity imports whose connection to radio was something like their late grandmother used to tell stories about how she used to listen to KBUG Cincinnati every night before she went to sleep.
Friday’s event, labelled Audio Unlimited, bore little resemblance to its predecessor Radio Alive or its ancestors. For a start, it started at 11:30, not the 8:00 am registration to which I’d grown accustomed. It was all finished by 4:30 except for the networking drinks which went on past 6pm.
The substance of the change was that the old “conference”, modelled on the even older (and rapidly ageing) NAB in Las Vegas, had been transformed into a sales event for advertisers.
It was a big leap to make and perhaps one that could only be made by an incoming CEO with fresh eyes from another market on the other side of the globe. But long gone are the days when CRA’s predecessor FARB hosted conferences made up of 60 or 70 disparate station owners for whom the FARB conference was an indispensable annual pilgrimage to meet other owners and learn valuable insights from overseas guests.
Now there’s only a handful of owners and C-Suiters who, through their own resources and the internet, have unlimited access to all the insights they can handle.
So, it makes more economic sense to-repurpose the time and money required to stage a conference towards selling CRA to advertisers.
The premise is simple, you lure the young corporate and agency types who make the ad buying decisions with the promise of lunch, drinks a chance to meet some of radio’s biggest stars like Kate Langbroek, Joel Creasey, Kyle Sandilands and Russell Howcroft, then subtly intersperse some cutting-edge research that provides compelling reasons to why they should buy more CRA – Audio, not Australia.
It’s events like these where sales and talent can team up to great effect. One puts on the show, the other sells the tickets.