Spotlight On: CRA for World Radio Day

Spotlight On: CRA for World Radio Day

By Rhys Evans

Tuesday 13th February marked World Radio Day, in celebration Telum Media spoke to Commerical Radio & Audio's CEO, Ford Ennals, about the ratings process and what lies ahead for the future of radio.

Radio recently celebrated 100 years in Australia. Looking ahead, what is CRA implementing to ensure the continued relevance and evolution of radio in Australia in the face of advancing technologies and changing audience preferences?
Australian commercial radio and audio is a vibrant industry that is always adapting to new ways of listening, like smart devices and streaming, and finding new audiences, whether it is through digital radio, podcasts, or social media. If you look at the Australian Podcast Ranker, which is published monthly by Triton Digital and CRA, content from commercial radio consistently dominates the top results.

One of our key priorities at CRA is to work with the Federal Government and other industries to ensure radio is easily accessible in all new technology, such as smart speakers and digital dashboards in new model cars. We want to ensure listeners are always able to tune in wherever they are whether its via AM, FM, DAB+, or streaming.

For someone who is unfamiliar with the industry, can you explain the radio ratings and survey process?
Radio ratings measurement can be complex, but these are the basics: market researcher GfK conducts ratings surveys on CRA’s behalf in five metro markets (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth) and three regional markets (Newcastle, Canberra, and Gold Coast / Tweed Heads). There are eight metro surveys and three regional surveys each year.

For the metro and regional results, GfK surveys more than 60,000 people aged 10+ about their radio listening habits. Each respondent is asked to record their listening for a week, including the station, the time they listened, where they were (e.g. car, work, home), and the device they were using.

Up until last year, listening has been measured using paper diaries and electronic diaries. In 2023, we launched Radio 360, which is a new hybrid measurement system that adds network streaming data to the diary data to enhance radio measurement across all platforms and devices, anywhere, anytime. One of the interesting elements of Radio 360 was the introduction of a wearable meter that automatically captures information on radio listening.

In the rapidly changing media landscape, what challenges does CRA foresee for the radio industry?
Our media landscape is rapidly changing, but with this comes opportunity as well as a challenge. For example, you don’t have to be listening in your car between 6am and 9am anymore to hear your favourite breakfast program - you can download their podcast. You can take radio wherever you go by using streaming apps.

Radio remains an important part of Australians’ lives, with 79 percent of us listening to broadcast radio every week. Radio offers listeners unique value that they can’t get from streaming music - their favourite programmes and personalities, local news and information, and a sense of community. 2024 will be the year of radio, because it remains effective and affordable for advertisers in challenging market conditions, and we expect the sector’s share of ad revenue to climb closer to 10 percent this year.

What notable trends and themes does CRA anticipate shaping the radio landscape in 2024 and beyond?
There will likely be a lot of industry movement in Australian commercial radio in the coming months, and there has been increased interest in buying into the growing radio and audio markets. We are also anticipating the podcast industry in Australia will go from strength to strength, with listener numbers continuing to grow and radio talent continuing to crossover into podcasting.

What advice would you give to PR professionals seeking positive and productive interactions with radio journalists and professionals?
The most important piece of advice we could give PR professionals when it comes to contacting radio newsrooms is don’t call at 10 minutes to the hour! Radio is always looking for fresh angles on the hot topics or big stories of the day, whether interviews for programmes, or news grabs for the next breakfast shift. If you want your media release to make it into the bulletin, audio is key - so either have talent ready to take a call or consider sending through pre-recorded grabs.

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