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Australian Radio Pioneer Retires posted on July 6th, 2008

If the push for online radio content and next year’s introduction of digital radio has got you anticipating big change, you’re in company with Paul Thompson, founder and CEO of DMG Radio Australia. Feeling that these events have created a “natural watershed to retire” the 65-year old CEO of DMG Radio Australia plans to step down to a non-executive chairman role in October, leaving control of the business to managing director Cathy O’Conner. Mr. Thompson states, “As radio transforms itself into a multi-platform medium, Cathy will be a CEO who ensures DMG’s leadership role in this evolution.” In keeping with the evolution, DMG is currently investing in digital media properties and creating a team responsible for providing content through station websites, including interactive advertisements and online promotions. DMG is also looking forward to the January 1, 2009 introduction of digital radio, which will allow broadcasts in higher-quality supplemented by content such as scrolling images and text.

Mr. Thompson’s legacy includes building two national radio broadcasting networks, first as the founding CEO of the Austereo Group, which he managed for 15 years before it was sold to the Village Roadshow. In 1996, Mr. Thompson was approached by the British Daily Mail & General Trust Group (DMG) and asked to consolidate regional radio stations to form DMG Radio Australia, which was later sold for $193.5 million to the Macquarie Media Group (MMG). In 2002, Mr. Thompson was one of two inaugural inductees into the Commercial Radio Australia Hall of Fame.

DMG Radio Australia has established eight FM and one AM stations in Australia, including the Nova music stations in Syndney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – top FM stations among the 18 to 39 crowd, Star 104.5 on the Central Coast, the Vega stations in Syndney and Melbourne – aimed at the 40+ baby boomer crowd, and Adelaide’s number one talk station FIVEaa – DMG’s first purchase. In the time since its inception, DMG has invested around $550 million in Metropolitan licenses and currently employs over 500 people. DMG’s impact on Australian radio includes innovative strategies, such as increasing the impact of advertising by never playing more than two ads in a row. In addition, Mr. Thompson has aimed to counter the “standard” feel of radio by directing his programmers to play untested music in a broader variety, placing wildly differing genres back to back and eliminating the kind of radio that DMG stated “unfairly pigeonholed” its listeners.