Radio has always struggled with thin ad margins so there’s pressure to keep wages low

It’s been almost two months since Radio Today was contacted anonymously by a radio employee arguing for increased pay in an open letter to the industry.

Kim Napier continues the story.


The open letter prompted an outpouring of impassioned comments from radio employees, such as:

“I’m one of your many passionate employees that have worked in the industry for a while, and if I’m being honest, I’m a little over you taking advantage of us all…

“My peers and I all talk, and the common theme is – ‘you don’t need a pay rise, think about all the perks and experiences you’ll gain from this opportunity.'”

Our readers mostly say they love the industry and want to stay in it, but can’t make ends meet on their pay scales, which are well below their high-profile peers.

According to former 2GB Executive Producer and journalist Phil Sylvester, “this is a wake-up call for the radio industry. They’ve managed to get away with the condescending “button monkey” epithet for… I was going to say too long…but it’s FOREVER.”

Phil employed me as part of his podcasting team in 2017 on a 30 hour per week contract while I worked casually in the newsroom at Nova and Smooth FM, so I asked Phil for his views on the new competition radio now has from podcasting for wage rates.

Phil moved from radio to PR before taking a position as External Affairs Manager with World Nomads, a global lifestyle and insurance company.

It was here Phil pitched a podcast to reflect the stories and information desired by an independent adventurous traveller.

“Radio has always struggled with thin margins from advertising revenue, so the pressure has been on to keep wages low,” says Phil. “I told management the aim of the World Nomads podcast was to find new users of our online content whose first point of contact with the brand was an excellent travel podcast that spoke to their values.

“The audio market is evolving and in some cases, the roles of either producer or host on a podcast pay more money than radio, particularly if you are lucky enough to score a gig with a corporate company…

“The podcasting industry doesn’t measure success by advertising revenue alone. There’s also value in audience engagement, brand awareness, and other aspects of marketing. Many of these are intangible if the only measure is the profit & loss balance sheet from the sales department. Consequently, podcasters value the input of producers and audio engineers differently and pay accordingly. These were the metrics I used when setting up The World Nomads Travel Podcast. We decided to make it ad-free to lessen the disruptive effect. It was a pure content marketing play.”

 “I’d like to be able to say that enabled me to pay over the odds, but no, the pay was shit… the hope was to find a recent radio production or journalism graduate with 1- or 2-years radio experience to join me as my associate producer. As EP, I would do all the heavy lifting and hosting duties and the junior producer would then make it all happen.”

Yeah, the pay wasn’t great if I compared it to my salary at the peak of my radio powers, BUT it was a lot better than the starting wages in radio being shared with Radio Today in our comments section after the open letter.

So, if you’re not getting what you want from radio, there are now other alternatives in podcasting. You get paid for the hours you work, and in my experience working with World Nomads, your worth is rewarded. It is putting renewed pressure on radio companies to review market rates in light of more competition for employees.

To give Phil the last word, he says:

“Because I’m a lucky bastard, I had the good fortune (personally and professionally) to have a very experienced and highly skilled producer and presenter apply for the job. I tried to talk Kim out of it, I pointed out the pay didn’t match her skills, but she said “yes” anyway.

“Did it work out? Yes! Have a listen to this, my favourite episode.”


Look for more coverage of this issue later this week.


Our previous reports:

Show us the money

Are Australian radio employees being paid enough?


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Actually dumbfounded
2 May 2022 - 10:06 am


The follow up on the article that gained so much attention from industry members because they agreed, yes, we are being underpaid, is a very blatant advertisement for a podcast that has nothing to do with wages?

And the solution that I can gather you’re presenting here to the radio industry is to just make a podcast?

Good lord.


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