In this episode of The Experts Podcast we talk radio, the future of the industry, the competitiveness, the losses, the gains and what it takes to make good radio for an audience. Carmen and Nic get to spend some time with the boss of ABC here in Perth and feel out what makes a good story and good talent. There has been a lot happening at the national broadcaster particularly over the last 12 months and we go straight to the top to find out what has been happening. There were certainly some uncomfortable moments for our guest when we got a little personal and you can see that the station is more than a job, its family.
Sarah Knight is our guest this week and she is the Local Manager ABC Radio Perth. A voice you will have heard over the last 33 years maybe in the regions and locally as a broadcaster in her own right. When quizzed which would you prefer broadcasting or managing? It’s a resounding preference to broadcast, “wouldn’t anyone choose that?” Sarah has a very clear understanding of her audience, what changes have come into play in recent times and where the station is heading. Local is at the heart of every decision that is made and that is very clear particularly with the programs and presenters that are in place today.
The loss of Russell Woolf last year was brought up and you can hear the pain and raw emotion that Sarah and the ABC family still feel for his passing. It was so unexpected but the way everyone came together it was such a special moment and opportunity for the station to share ‘Rusty’s’ life so publicly. The other great character and ratings giant Eoin Cameron also got a mention because of the effect his passing had on Perth and the ABC family. It’s been something that Sarah wouldn’t want to go through again but hats off to the way the whole station and the audience said goodbye to some radio legends. We did have a few laughs remembering them as characters.
The idea that the ABC doesn’t listen or look at the competitors is squashed quickly. Of course, they are looking at their stories and talent. It is a competitive industry, and you would be worried if they weren’t. There is no exact algorithm for what makes the perfect radio story, but Sarah correctly identifies the highest engaged segment for radio is when a linguist expert comes on. Everyone goes crazy for it and that also applies to commercial radio who love a ‘wordsmith’. We don’t always know what makes great radio, but we do know the ABC Radio Perth is in good hands with Sarah steering the ship.
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