Interview with Steve Ahern

Interview with Steve Ahern, Founder of and Director of A F T R S (Australian Film Television and Radio School) -
2nd April 2003

How did you get your start?

I started in radio about 25 years ago and have worked in Community, ABC and Commercial radio. The RadioInfo website grew from my original company's website called AMT (Ahern Media and Training Pty Ltd).  It was bought a few years ago by RadioWise, who have improved the site massively and changed the name to RadioInfo.

Why did you the radio industry or did it choose you?

I think it chose me. I was always talking on a mic or constructing radio desks when other kids were playing sport or building model aeroplanes. So I guess it chose me. Since beginning in radio I have been on-air, in production, in programming, news and management. 

What do you do when you’re not attending to the RadioInfo website?

I am Head of Radio at A F T R S (Australian Film Television and Radio School)

What do you like most about your chosen profession?

Through radio you can make a difference to people’s lives by entertaining them or informing them. And it's FUN!

What kind of people give you scoops and inside tips for the “latest movement” and news sections?

There are over 9000 stations or individuals who read the RadioInfo site every week. Tip offs come from them. Other stories I discover myself by talking to people or observing industry trends.

Greatest professional and personal achievements?

Professional - Taking 2CN to many number ones in my five years in Canberra. Giving many great radio professionals their start.

Personal - the birth of my two sons Daniel and Liam. They are great kids!

How did the RadioInfo website come about? (elaborate)

It grew from my first company website. I started putting up some industry info now and again and more and more people started reading and asking me for more. After a while it generated a momentum all of its own and I realised that the other parts of the site were not as important or profitable as what I had stumbled on to. I guess it was something the industry needed and I was happy to provide it.

How much traffic / how many hits / how many impressions per month?

Over 10,000 hits per week.

How many pages are there in the website?

About 20, but the main ones are News, Jobs, Movements, Show Prep, followed by the discussion pages, news doctor, technology and overseas news, and selector tips and ratings pages.

Is the website a profitable entity on its own, or does it compliment other aspects of your business?

It is now owned by RadioWise, so I would not like to speak for them, except to say that it makes good money and also contributes to their business. There are more enhancements planned by RadioWise soon.

Has anyone ever done a website review for you? (I have done 2GB, 2UE, SMH and your next, you will be glad to hear) 

No. You're the first! Thanks. 

How has the internet helped you, and what have you done to adapt to the internet “space”?

The whole concept for RadioInfo would only work on the internet, otherwise the production and distribution costs would be too high to make it worth while.

We adapted the site continually based on emails and other feedback when people request something new.  

Tell me about your ups and downs in the business?

The first year was strange because it was evolving. I would write something and wonder if anyone was ever reading it. Then as more time went by the feedback came, showing that more people were indeed reading it.  The feeling moved from wondering to knowing that it was being read.

What are the main changes you have incorporated in web design and database management, seen you have been online with RadioInfo?

Andy Grace, the RadioWise webmaster has done a complete revamp of the site, putting behind it a powerful database, which makes writing and loading stories much easier now!

What is the most time consuming aspect of working on RadioInfo?

Writing the news page update each week.

What inspires you?

Knowing the site is useful to very many people, plus my love of radio. If I could not write the news pages I would still want to talk and write about issues in radio somewhere, so I guess the site gives me the right outlet for what I enjoy doing, even though it is time consuming.

What do you do to relax?

Have time with my wife Serena and two boys.  Listen to music. Listen to the radio.

Over the course of your career, who has been the best to work with?

Pru Goward.  A great journo and a very professional person. But behind the strong exterior a nice person and a mum who carers deeply for her family.

Do you have any mentors?

Lots.  Over the years I have asked advice from many people, who have all inspired me with their love of radio and their willingness to give me advice.  I think, now that it is my turn to be in that position, it is my turn to return the favour to anyone who asks me for advice. Thanks to many inspirational broadcasters who have helped me in my career. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been offered?

Most conspiracies are really just someone's stuff up that they are trying to cover up!

The greatest compliment you have ever been given?

"Why did you write that crap!  It's true"

Why do you think Derryn Hinch has performed better at 3AW, than was expected?

Because the station makes the star, not the other way around.  John Laws and Alan Jones seem to be exceptions to this rule.

What main changes to you think will occur in the Sydney radio market this year? (lots of talk about possible sale of 2SM and more niche programming)

The 2SM sale is on again and off again constantly. Maybe it's closer this time - only Bill Caralis knows that!  I think the next thing to shake the Sydney market will be the sale of the final FM licence some time in the next 12 months.  The other shake up will come when Laws retires - who will fill the vacuum.

Any Laws, Jones, Hinch, Price predictions, based on inside knowledge?

No inside knowledge other than what is published on the site.  I think Laws will remain strong despite the recent challenges and will see out his 50th year in style. I think Price will grow with help from Zemanek's night shift.

Anything else you would like to share with me or our audience?

Thanks for making the RadioInfo site a success!


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