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Connect With: Joan Warner, CEO of CRA and VP of World DAB

23 May 2018 | ConnecTechAsia

Radio’s influence and reach should not be underestimated, says the CEO of Commercial Radio Australia. Broadcasters should not undervalue their influence in the media landscape.

 What gets you up and going every day?

I’m lucky to have been in my current role as CEO of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) since late July 2001. Radio is a bit like a drug – you get addicted to it. For me, it’s particularly exciting to help move forward with innovation at an industry level, and to ensure radio continues to be the leader in audio. Radio is alive. It is a growing and innovative medium – the industry continues to present dynamic, ever-evolving challenges which generate tremendous motivation for CRA and for me as CEO.

How has radio maintained its relevance over the years?

Radio has remained free and easily accessible across as many platforms as possible, and as a result, has deepened its relationship with listeners. However, the key to radio’s ongoing success isn’t just high quality relevant content, but its enthusiastic embrace of change as well. While broadcast radio remains as the core business, radio has incorporated new technology into the business model and now is available online, via apps, on digital via DAB+ and on AM and FM. Radio has reviewed every new platform that has emerged as an opportunity to make sure radio remains ubiquitous and accessible to our loyal listeners anywhere and anytime.

What are some of the latest DAB+ developments in Asia Pacific that you are excited about?

Broadcasters in the Asia Pacific have recognised that they need to move to the greener, more spectrum efficient broadcast platform of digital radio. We’re excited that countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are looking to DAB+. MCMC, the Malaysian Regulator, is interested in a more in-depth technical briefing, and Indonesia is looking at organising a seminar to further inform decision makers on the benefits of going digital.

You’ve seen radio transition from analogue to digital. Where do you see it heading in the future? What else is in store for radio?

Radio’s future is to focus on the strengths of the industry – the live and local nature of radio – and to incorporate radio into all new devices that come to the market.  We’re excited about the opportunities to work with Google, Amazon, Sonos, and Apple Music on voice-activated devices in homes. In terms of audio, radio’s expertise at providing live, localised and popular content 24/7 should prove invaluable as part of these new on-demand devices.

How can the industry benefit from Radio’s New Wave?

The radio industry is already in the digital online space and around the globe, moving towards a digital broadcast future that offers the industry the ability to incorporate richer content, with images, text and hyperlinks.  This will open up more opportunities for Hybrid Radio (the perfect partnership between broadcast radio and online digital), that allows an easy transition from simply listening to broadcast radio to using a backchannel to purchase the song you’re listening to or the product you just heard about on an ad. Radio is the audio expert. Our core business is creating audio content and distributing and repurposing it across various platforms.  New audio players in the market are not necessarily content creators – radio is in a position of strength.

Radio is leading the way in the podcast space as well, and radio will drive this sector. Aside from our vast inventory of content, we will also create new and innovative podcasts that will be amplified via our various channels.

In your opinion, what do you think is key to driving innovation in the industry?

An ability to look beyond the next 6-12 months, integrating new ways of creating and delivering content, and seeing emerging platforms and/or devices as an opportunity. Radio is the original audio activation. For more than a century, radio broadcasters have used the voice to activate listeners, communicate the latest news, entertainment, music and emergency warnings.  We are seeing the tech giants moving into the audio space because of the depth of listener engagement with audio (signified by radio’s ongoing success).

You will be speaking at ConnecTechAsia Summit 2018. What do you think will be the most important takeaway for your audience?

Radio’s influence and reach (and especially for broadcast radio) should not be underestimated. Radio is still the most accessible and widely consumed medium, and it’s continuing to grow, influence and impact billions. Broadcasters should not undervalue their influence in the media landscape.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received in your career?

Take a risk – do not be scared to walk through an open door if an opportunity presents itself. Always have faith in your own ability and adaptability. Don’t think problems – think opportunities.

Keen to hear more from Joan Warner? Join her on 27 June 2018 (Suntec Singapore, Level 6) at BroadcastAsia’s half-day seminar, Radio’s New Wave! She will be discussing the following topic: “DAB+ Developments in APAC”. Sign up here.

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