Q&A: JOAN WARNER – Chief Executive of Commercial Radio Australia


Joan Warner has been the Chief Executive of Commercial Radio Australia since July 2011. Ahead of this year’s Radio Fest and ACRAs 2014, TBS chats to Joan about women and their roles in radio. 

You’ve worked at a senior executive level in private and government sectors, why did Radio appeal to you in particular working for Commercial Radio Australia?

Radio is a dynamic industry and working at Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) gave me the perfect opportunity to combine my experience and skills from politics and the public sector with my commercial background in FMCG, finance and other areas. I joined CRA at a time of change for both the industry body and for the industry as a whole with new technology and new platforms emerging. The challenge of ensuring that CRA provided a strong and united voice for commercial radio both in terms of political and public sector profile and of raising the profile of the industry with advertisers and agencies was an exciting. Bringing together the entire Australian radio industry of commercial, public and community radio broadcasters, to ensure that radio had a digital broadcast future in DAB+ digital radio was another interesting project that was only at conception stage when I joined.

The radio industry is generally perceived as quite male dominated; do you still believe this is true?

Across the commercial radio industry today there are women on Boards, at CEO and senior and middle management levels and more than one female owner. The number of women in the industry has continued to grow and become more visible in the higher ranks and in influential positions since my time at CRA.

What is your advice for women in radio wanting to move into more executive roles? What qualities do you think they need to have?

To excel in any industry, I believe women need to be passionate about what they do and aim to excel. Nothing is more convincing, in terms of promotion, than dedication to a role and organisation, initiative, new ideas and, of course, results. Women should not be daunted by any perceived “glass ceiling” but continue professional development and training, look for mentors and have confidence in their abilities. If a door opens always walk through – even if it might be a new experience or it may be taking on a bigger role or one a little outside of your experience. If someone has the confidence in you to offer that opportunity, then have the confidence in yourself to take it and make it work.

Who are some women in the radio industry, be on air or off the air, that stand out for you and why?

Cathy O’Conner: CEO of Nova Entertainment
  • Alison O’Neill: Director, Grant Broadcasters
  • Nikki Clarkson: Head of Marketing and Communications, SCA
Kate Dundas: Head of Radio , ABC
Mandy Wicks: Head of Radio, SBS

All these women have achieved many milestones in their careers. They are intelligent and resourceful, have worked hard and have taken on variety of roles at which they have succeeded. But they are still approachable and inclusive and would make excellent mentors!

  • Janet Cameron – Managing Director – Grant Broadcasters
Stephanie Camplin – Director – Bathurst Broadcasters

These two women are owners and operators and display a passion for the industry and a knowledge and wisdom that is hard to match. Janet Cameron, in particular, has grown her network to be the second largest in Australia – an enviable track record.

In what ways does Commercial Radio Australia promote the promotion of women into executive roles?

Commercial Radio Australia offers a very flexible workplace and tries to accommodate all of the circumstances confronted by our employees. We provide ongoing professional development opportunities and regularly encourage staff to show initiative and in some cases to move into roles for which they display talent and aptitude. The majority of the work force at CRA is female with the majority of senior roles held by females.

About Author

Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee started her career in the media 10 years ago working for various companies including Working Dog, Southern Cross Austereo and NOVA Entertainment. During this time she has been an Announcer, Promotions Manager, Producer, Music Director and Assistant Content Director. Amanda created The Broad Side as a support network for women in media to discuss and share their obstacles and successes in their industry.