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Media Week: Ali Clarke on the radio bullpen, Matt Abraham's new gig

Media and marketing

In this week’s column, ABC presenter Ali Clarke opens up about the tough world of breakfast radio, Matthew Abraham returns to journalism, Cory Bernardi’s outrage-driven marketing strategy, learn about the future of journalism, a good week for SA’s reporters, and more.

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Podcast: Ali Clarke – the accidental announcer

ABC Radio Adelaide announcer Ali Clarke has opened up about the sometimes brutal world of breakfast radio in an interview with Adelaide podcast Rooster Radio.

Clarke, who recently moved to the breakfast shift, reveals her original appointment as an on-air announcer was accidental.

She had been working as promotions manager for the then struggling Mix FM station – now Adelaide’s leader. She wrote what husband Matthew, an assistant coach at the Crows, described as a “Jerry Maguire” email – passionately outlining how the station could beat its rivals.

Part of the approach was a new breakfast team, but the station struggled to land a woman to join a new line-up of Kym Dillon and Chris Dzelde. With the clock ticking, then station manager Steve Rowe asked her to take the job – two weeks before launch.

Ali Clarke. Supplied image: ABC

That was 2003, and before long the trio were the leading commercial breakfast team in town and Mix was on the up.

Clarke, who says she didn’t have ambitions to be a radio announcer, tells Rooster Radio that she was terrified.

“I was hanging on for grim death,” she says.

She learned quickly and, five years later, the Mix breakfast team shocked the media world by marching across the road to rivals Triple M, where they were successful for another five years before being suddenly axed.

She describes the reasons behind the move away from Mix, as well as the grim details of her sacking.

“When I got fired from Triple M that was a little bit out of left field because I still had another year on my contract and we were going okay. And more specifically no-one had said that we weren’t doing well.'”

She also has some choice words about certain organisations and the way they treat staff.

“I have the belief that certain companies… there’s a lot of trading on ‘you’re so lucky to be here – we can’t pay you that much but you’re lucky’.

“Until all of a sudden you’re a number and you get that wake-up call. Until you get that wake-up call, you drink the Kool-Aid and you’re into it.”

It’s a detailed insight into the radio business. Listen below or via iTunes .

Matthew Abraham’s new gig

Everyone is being tight-lipped, but InDaily can reveal that long-time ABC radio announcer Matthew Abraham will re-emerge as a newspaper columnist this weekend.

Abraham, who wrote a Messenger column for many years, has been adjusting to life away from the maelstrom of morning radio since he left ABC Radio Adelaide at the end of June.

He said at the time that he would continue in journalism, in some form.

Sure enough, the Waymouth Street whispers are that he’ll be in the Sunday Mail this weekend, which seems like a good fit for the veteran wordsmith.

Bernardi’s outrage-driven marketing success

Cory Bernardi’s latest social media-driven issue – a fundraiser at an Adelaide school in which boys wore dresses – has been painted as a having backfired for the Australian Conservatives leader.

As a result of Bernardi’s publicity, the kids of Craigburn Primary School have been flooded with donations.

But backfiring for Bernardi? Far from it. He has gained exactly what he set out to achieve – huge publicity and separation from the political pack.

Bernardi is a canny user of social media marketing, which he uses to galvanise supporters and bring in members for his fledgling party. Even when he was part of the Liberal establishment, he was careful to foster his own direct communication methods – a YouTube channel, a policy and ideas website, e-newsletters, polls and judicious use of Facebook to foment dissatisfaction with the political mainstream.

When he quit the Liberals, he immediately started talking about the conservative political “base” – and seeking to play to them to build his new alternative.

In other words, he’s in marketing mode, not policy mode.

Hence, his focus on small, emblematic spotfires (many of dubious significance, such as thin stories about banning Christmas carols, or food companies airbrushing religious overtones from Easter snacks, or the alleged lack of a ‘chapel’ at the new RAH or, this week, an innocent fundraiser at a school).

It’s cynical, but effective.

His Conservatives followed up his original Tweet on Craigburn with a “poll” – complete with beaming Bernardi photograph. No doubt he would be ecstatic with the amount of priceless free publicity that he’s garnered through a solitary tweet.

The school’s ‘do it in a dress’ campaign aimed to raise $900 – and as of this morning it is closing on the $200,000 mark. That has bought an education for 650 girls (so far) in Sierra Leone and Uganda, according to the crowdfunding website.

Win-win. The only loser is the state of political discourse in Australia – as long as this sort of superficial stunt continues to be effective, the smaller parties and populists in the majors will keep doing it.

He’s not really outraged – he’s marketing.

Why journalism matters in SA

There were three examples (at least) this week about why serious journalism matters in South Australia and why it can make a difference.

This morning, The Advertiser’s Daniel Wills has exposed breathtaking claims about failure at the top of the South Australian public service (the link is paywalled, but it raises similar questions about public sector recruitment as this scandal reported years ago by InDaily’s former senior journalist Kevin Naughton); earlier in the week the ABC’s Nick Harmsen and Alina Eacott revealed another child protection failure; and InDaily’s Bension Siebert shamed the Government into lifting the cruel secrecy over the deaths of workers in South Australia’s workplaces.

Journalists might not be popular, but democracy needs them.

Sadly, more statistics out this week – on jobs and advertising revenue – only confirm the decline of the media in Australia.

And the future of journalism is…

Local journalists and a US-based pioneer of digital public affairs are holding an event in Adelaide next week to discuss the future of the media.

The SA branch of the Public Relations Institute of Australia SA Branch is running the event with Open State as part of the festival’s “future democracy” theme.

“The Future of Media – How news is changing and what it means for SA” will feature Aaron Guiterman, head of Digital Public Affairs for Edelman, based in Washington DC. Guiterman is a pioneer of “behavioural micro-targeting” – a “sophisticated form of creative strategy”, according to the PRIA.

Joining him will be InDaily’s dual winner of young journalist of the year, Bension Siebert, veteran journalist and former long-time news director at Seven, Terry Plane, media and communications academic Dr Collette Snowden, and ABC reporter Alina Eacott.

The event will be held at UniSA’s city east campus next Friday night, September 29.

For booking details, go here.

Media Week is a regular column on the media, marketing and public relations industries in South Australia.

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