Telum Talks To: Claressa Monteiro, Head of Audio, The Business Times

Telum Talks To: Claressa Monteiro, Head of Audio, The Business Times

You have taken on various roles in media up to your current position as the Head of Audio for The Business Times. Can you share what’s your driving force to continue staying in the media industry?
What can I say? I love media! I love a challenge and the opportunity to learn new things and stretch myself. The landscape is changing, ditto for the way we do things. The tools available to us now can either be viewed as a threat or viewed as opportunities to harness. I am going with harnessing because it means that WE need to grow, learn and transform. That’s exciting.

Could you share more about The Business Times’ podcasts?
At the core of what we do at The Business Times is business and market-related news and analysis. Our podcast lineup complements that core mission. However, we stretch ourselves in the production of Lens on Singapore, which covers geopolitical and societal issues. This is a fairly new title for us and one that we are very proud to produce, as it takes a deeper look at issues that impact our lives here in Singapore and in the wider region.

With the rise of podcasts and streaming platforms, how do you see the role of audio evolving in the media landscape?
Audio has always been a very intimate and personal way to communicate with someone. Tone, cadence, pacing, all of this leans into the feel of a personal conversation, even though you’ve probably never met the presenter - they feel like friends. This, in a nutshell, explains the enduring power of radio. Podcasts and streaming platforms answer the need for on-demand listening versus appointment-based listening, which is at the heart of broadcast’s synchronised urgency. I believe in our busy modern lives, on-demand listening will take on a more significant role in information delivery in the very near future. 

How have the changes in technology and industry trends influenced your strategies or perspectives in audio production and leadership within your team?
As you said, audio is evolving and so is the way listeners engage with audio content. The changes are what keeps me on my toes and horizon gazing to anticipate and react to the changes that sometimes feel relentless. Technology in particular has been something of a Pandora’s Box no? But for now, we are embracing AI and the productivity tools it has given us at The Business Times Podcasts team, because it gives us the ability to serve our audience better. 

As for leadership, my strategy hasn’t changed that much over the years. I hire the best people whose mindsets, values and skills align with my vision of the perfect team. Then I empower them to be their very best selves, get out of their way and they in turn hit it out of the park and make me look like a genius for hiring them in the first place!

Any advice for PRs who are looking to align their pitches with The Business Times’ target audience?
Simple. Know what we do. Pitch us stories that align with the content we produce. For example, we don’t have a podcast that covers tech, don’t pitch us heavy tech-skewed interviews. As interesting as it may be, I can’t use it. And if you pitch things I can't use, in very short order I'll stop reading all your pitches.

Looking back on your journey in journalism, what are some of the challenges you have faced over the years and how do you overcome them?
Learning to ask the right questions, the right way; to get the best answers. This continues to be my biggest challenge in everything. Data analysis, interviewing, building strategies, all of it. Asking the right questions. That is what keeps me moving forward until the next time I don’t ask the right question and have to learn from it. Lifelong learning isn’t just a WSG pitch. It should be what continually drives us.

For individuals aspiring to carve out a career in audio production within the media sector, what key advice or insights would you offer to guide them on their journey?
If you love it, do it. But you have got to love it - because it doesn’t always love you back. And by “IT”, I mean leadership. People can’t appreciate what they don’t understand. Accept that your leadership may not necessarily understand why it takes two hours to edit 10 minutes of audio. Great if you have bosses who do, but realistically, that isn’t always the case. Make sure that 10 minutes of audio is the best work you can deliver anyway. Every. Time. Why? Because YOU love what you do.

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Claressa Monteiro

Head of Audio

The Business Times

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