Are Australian radio workers paid enough?


Radio Today was contacted anonymously by a radio employee demanding a pay rise in an open letter to the industry.

Dear Radio Network Leaders,

I’m one of your many passionate employees who have been in the industry for a while, and to be honest, I’m a little sick of you taking advantage of all of us…

Your producers, advertisers, sales reps, engineers, the promotions team, all of us are the people who drive your revenue and audience goals, and help contribute to that massive bonus you love to talk about at staff cocktail parties. … Yes, you talk very loud after a few beers.

Let’s start with how I’m… I’m just exhausted. To quote ABC Virginie Trioli “After another COVID summer, it’s only January 29 and I’ve never felt so tired.”

Most career opportunities come with a move, which means a huge life reset. I had to leave my family behind, navigate new cities, make new friendships, find new routines, and build the trust and reputation of a new team multiple times.

My peers and I are all talking, and the common theme is, “you don’t need a raise, think about all the benefits and experiences you’ll get from this opportunity.”

With full respect, we see through the bullshit and it’s time to start paying.

We are in 2022 and everything is expensive.

Let’s get the facts…this is a breakdown of essential living costs in Sydney.

Suppose I have a salary of $60,000 and earn $938 per week. After paying for necessities, I would be left with $293 per week, but before I can invest in my savings, I also need to consider the following expenses:

  • Go to the doctor or see a psychologist,
  • Insurance, fuel and car registration,
  • Clothing and Cosmetics,
  • Home Internet/Netflix
  • Socialize with my friends,
  • And a coffee made by a barista.

How bad does that look? Sure, you might notice and suggest that I stop buying clothes, but did you think we wouldn’t have anything to wear to work because you don’t provide us with a uniform?

We want to look and feel good for all the Instagram stories you make us do.

While we’re on the money, I’ve also repeatedly expressed in employee engagement surveys that you need to stop shoving ASX results down our throats.

If the companies are in such a healthy financial position, why is there no money in the budget for a salary increase? I think it’s time to shift your priorities away from shareholders and invest in your people.

It is counter-intuitive for senior members of staff to train and develop the next generation of leaders just so that we all walk away with the skills we have learned. It’s a waste of time and resources. We deserve to earn a living wage that will allow us to live in dignity and participate as contributing members of society.

Thank you for your time.

So, are Australian radio workers paid enough?

“Radio station staff have their salaries set by a variety of awards that apply to different professions or by contracts negotiated with their employer,” explains Joan Warner CEO Commercial Radio Australia.

“Every worker has the right to claim that they work at a higher level of responsibility or skill and deserve to move up the pay scale.

“The radio industry is no different from other industries in that it is subject to competitive market forces when seeking to hire and retain the best employees.

“The CRA does not have visibility into pay rates and cannot comment on individual cases.”

Unrewarded employees, including managerial employees, are covered by the national minimum wage and national employment standards.

Employees must be paid at least the rates of pay and entitlements granted.

The federal minimum wage has been set at $772.60 per week for a full-time employee.

Information on the different prices is available from Fair Work.

The big money

Meanwhile, Radio Today wrote in 2018 about some of the industry’s brightest stars earning big bucks.

And not much has changed in 2022.

The stars are Kyle and Jackie O, who each earn $5 million a year.

But what about our anonymous letter writer who represents the largest proportion of employees in the radio industry – “those who don’t have a lot of money”.

How does the cost of living differ between cities and regions? Let’s compare Melbourne in Victoria to Launceston in Tasmania each month.

Melbourne cost of living infographic

Source: Cost of living in Melbourne, Australia

Launceston cost of living infographic

Source: Cost of Living in Launceston

Figures are based on a comparison of 64 cities.

In summary, the cost of living in Australia is $1942, which is 2.03 times more expensive than the world average. Australia ranked 11th out of 197 countries by cost of living and the 2nd best country in which to live.

The average after-tax salary in Australia is $3746, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.9 months.

You can read here Cost of living in Australia over the past ten years.

How are they doing financially?

Let’s go back to the author of the anonymous letter who is unlikely to save. This means limited opportunities to improve the lifestyle and, without a salary increase, it will probably be the status quo in the future.

Is it reasonable to expect that “the benefits and experience you will get from this opportunity” will be enough to compensate for a higher salary?

I would say no.



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