Peter Higgins


An Analysis of the Future of the Commercial Radio Industry in Australia Based on the Examination of Historical Developments and Outlining Current Issues.



There are currently about 256 commercial radio stations on air in Australia and there are about 37 million radio sets in Australia. In addition, almost eight in 10 Australians (16 million people) listen to commercial radio every week. Sociological research has also shown that radio is the medium, which is; “The most trusted”.

It is clear that radio is an important medium both culturally and
financially, yet despite his fact, It is interesting to note that there
has been little or no academic rigour applied to the future of commercial radio in Australia.

The history of commercial radio reflects a medium that has gone through three major metamorphoses in 79 years. It is also apparent that commercial radio is on the verge of another significant change. Despite the impact that radio has had on Australian society there is no written history on its development over the past 79 years. Whilst it can be said her has been some work done on the period 1935 to 1950 there has been nothing documented since the 1950’s. Indeed the oldest of the commercial radio stations - 2UE and 2GB - have no internal documentation on the historical development of their networks and the changes in content and program delivery.
It is of significant importance to document the history of Australian radio but especially so from the viewpoint of the future of commercial radio in the period 2004 to 2024. Radio is now competing against many new media, for example the internet, but, more importantly, audience expectations and content delivery are changing markedly. Rather than a haphazard approach to radio programming over the next 20 years it would be of greater benefit for the industry to have a shared vision and awareness of future options relative to industry issues.

The importance of an academic piece of work that documents the history of Australian Commercial Radio in a written format is marked and timely. The proposed Doctor of Arts would look at the issues facing the future of Australian Commercial Radio but do so within the context of how Australian radio has developed and why it has the programming footprint that it currently is delivering.

The success of commercial radio in the future will be based on commercial achievements and financial success. This thesis would have to be reflective of these commercial requirements as well as editorial content integrity and programming necessities.

The outcomes of this thesis would be two fold: firstly, it would be an academic work that is unique and timely and, secondly, it would be a document that could be used as a basis of a long term plan for the Australian Commercial Radio Industry.

The future issues of Australian Commercial radio would be academically documented within the framework of:
A. The role of radio currently from the viewpoint of the listener
B. Current and future competitors to radio,
C. The role of news,
D. The role of talkback,
E. The role of music,
F. The Point Of Difference for the radio audience, and
G. The financial viability of commercial radio stations.
H. The cultural, sociological, content and programming changes that may need to occur for Australian Radio Stations