10 Questions: Craig Bruce

Craig Bruce is the Head of Content for Southern Cross Austereo, and is ultimately responsible for programming on the Today network, the Triple M network, and all the regional stations. Yep it's a big gig.

No idea how he found time to answer our 10 Questions, but he did, and here they are.

Southern Cross Austereo is the biggest radio company in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world, clearly it is desirable, given the need for on and off air talent, to be seen as an employer of choice. How is the culture within the merged company developing?

I think the culture is developing nicely, it certainly wasn’t difficult to bring the 2 teams together. Austereo was a Top 50 workplace and Southern Cross was filled with a bunch of really passionate and talented radio specialists so for us it was just a matter of agreeing to some very basic operating principles and getting the content structure right.

The Today stations overall have slipped a little since the departure of Hamish & Andy from the daily shows a year ago, and this coincided with Nova moving to a hit position. Have both, or either, of those events impacted the network, or is there some other reason for the decline?

Hamish and Andy were a once in a generation show and we always knew that the numbers would settle after they left, having said that Fi and Jules (and now the Highway Patrol) are both developing into very strong national drive brands for us.

To your point on Nova’s pop format, they used to sound different, now they’re choosing to copy us. That’s for them to work out if it’s a sustainable strategy.

The ongoing Kyle headlines. There are two schools of thought. The first, that any publicity can be good publicity and you'd rather be talked about than not, or secondly, that the reaction particularly to the journalist incident in November was so intense that it could only be bad for the company. What's your view?

Trust me, anyone that says any publicity is good publicity has not been through what we have been through! Kyle is one of the best broadcasters from the last 15 years, (I think Brad had him ranked at #1 in his Top30), yes he made a mistake and said the wrong thing last year but we are certainly sticking by the show.

Let's talk music for a moment. Capital FM in London has dropped all One Direction songs from their playlist, and have not played them for two months now, after the band thanked Radio One at the Brit Awards and not Capital (here). Accepting that none of us are across all the nuances of the situation in the UK, as a first impression, how do you feel about a move like that?

It’s dumb. Plain dumb. That sort of stuff works really well in kindergartens, but in business you would think there would be a little more respect show to your key business partners.

Whilst at the time you were not responsible for the station nor did you make the decision, do you think it was the right move when Triple M dropped the Vines from the playlist after they behaved badly at a listener event?

Ha!! Well done. Didn’t see question 5 before I answered question 4. Different circumstances, clearly, and you’re right I wasn’t involved with the Vines decision.

For a young Programmer, or aspiring Programmer, who wants to get into Southern Cross Austereo and build a career, what is the best way to bring themselves to your attention?

Send me an email. I respond to every single aircheck, show audition or job application. My office is in Adelaide,(I’m never there, but that’s where it is) and when Mathew Eggleston was working at SA-FM as the MD he would notice whenever my car was in the carpark and would always make an effort to come past the office and ask a question, or discuss the playlist.

Matt put himself on my radar and it showed not only that he was keen to learn but was smart enough to put himself in front of the right people that will help his career develop. I’m sure he will be one of our best CDs one day.

Couple of light questions: How many flights have you been on in the past month.

Probably 12, maybe more. I love the travel though, it’s an honour to be in a role where I can be involved in so many radio stations.

What was the last station you listened to that wasn't an SCA station.

I listened to 5aa on the weekend. They have a Saturday morning sports show that I like to keep an eye/ear on.
 

What have you heard lately, on any station, that really impressed you.

It would be a tie between the Hot breakfast in Melbourne and the Highway Patrol.

The Hot breakfast because it just nails the concept of “winning the day”. It’s a show that could only be broadcast in Melbourne and nails the 24hours news cycle without fail.

Merrick and the Highway Patrol, because I’m really happy with the way we’ve cast that show. Julian and Rachel have been perfect for Mez. The team is working really together and it’s a genuinely funny show. I’ve been so impressed with Merrick’s professionalism, I still can’t believe Nova let him go.

Finish this sentence. The most important trait for a programmer to have is:

Sorry, can’t give you 1. We’re looking for 4.

  • Initiative. The ability to sniff out a great idea or opportunity when your opposition is snoozing.
  • Creativity. We are competing for people’s attention. Make it interesting or don’t do it at all.
  • The courage of your convictions. Make decisions. Have a position and own it.
  • Integrity. Someone asked me recently,”where do I start when I’m hiring a new CD?”. I always start with the person.

If that sounds like you, do what Matthew Eggleston did and send me a note!

 

 

 

Craig Bruce is Head of Content for Southern Cross Austereo, and you can contact him here.

 

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