10 Questions: Richard Park
Whilst Australia and New Zealand enjoy a high calibre of radio by world standards, it makes sense to learn from the best that other countries have to offer, as written about recently in our 'walking the walk' article here.
In the United Kingdom, there is no more influential radio figure than Richard Park. His reputation and legacy are significant.
Whilst he rarely gives interviews, he agreed to a chat with Radio Today, here is what he had to say.
You have a varied background as a programme controller (director), head of music, television presenter, music artist manager – you seem to enjoy being involved in different things.
Opportunities have come along which I have grabbed with both hands and given them my all. I am naturally a massively enthusiastic person and enjoy every challenge that presents itself.
I have been extremely lucky in my career, and certain success has come my way, and I put that down to the fact I love what I do.
Your time with Capital FM has been very successful, after you left in 2001 the audience on Capital halved from a reach of 3 million to under 1.5 million. Whilst Capital had success in the mid-2000's under Aussie Scott Muller, it was in bad shape until you came back in 2009, but now has its strongest audience reach in many years. Tell us about that?
Great presenters playing great songs is the start point, and make every hour exciting.
Radio One is far more commercial in its playlist than Triple J in Australia, tell us about competing with a very accessible, almost mainstream FM brand that runs no commercials.
Having a competitor with broad ranging radio services entirely funded by the taxpayer and able to promote for free all its television channels certainly focuses the mind! However this competition makes the commercial sector sharper and we can move faster.
Despite the BBC’s advantages, commercial radio wins reach and share in some markets across the UK.
Since Global took ownership of Capital and Heart, you have created networks from those brands. What's the rationale behind this?
Our strategy from the very beginning of Global Radio was that as the rules relaxed we would be able to move towards building national brands to add to the one we owned already, Classic FM. The first was to rebrand a host of smaller UK station and pull them together under the Heart brand.
While we respect local programming at breakfast and drive, the rest of the output is networked, with local input where required. Heart now competes strongly with BBC Radio 2.
A little over a year ago we did the same with the Capital brand creating the UK’s first ever national pop station going head to head with BBC Radio One. These national brands are strong and easily understood by both our listeners and advertisers, and places them at the forefront of the UK’s radio industry.
The networking of Heart and Capital has been successful, is there anything you think Australian radio could learn from that?
In a word – yes. I’m sure Aussie owners are studying our models.
Digital Radio is still embryonic is Australia, and it had a difficult birth in the UK, what's your perspective on how it is evolving in the UK?
The UK is committed to a digital future, and Global supports this position. However there are still a great many issues to iron out. Our position remains that we believe our listeners tune in to hear high quality programmes, and how those programmes are delivered to them must be as good as, or better, than FM before there can be a switchover.
This coverage issue is currently the main focus of work.
You've worked with big radio names over the years, perhaps most notably Chris Tarrant (left); can you give us a snapshot of 3 or 4 of the most talented broadcasters you've worked with?
There genuinely are too many to mention. However, from times gone by Chris Tarrant stands out as does Kenny Everett.
How is Dave Berry settling into Breakfast?
Dave came to the Capital Breakfast show at the beginning of this year after a very successful run as the breakfast presenter on our other station XFM, so he was no newcomer to early mornings.
Dave is a great radio talent and he and Lisa Snowdon are doing well and are establishing a strong following. I am extremely confident for the future of the show in London.
Global is a major player in the UK, from that perspective, are there regulatory changes that you wish to see happen?
Relaxation of regulation is very much on the agenda, and we adapt to those changes as they are made.
In addition to being a radio group, Global also manages music artists. Are diverse, although related revenue streams that can be cross-pollinated, the way of the future?
Global, prior to acquiring radio stations in the UK, had established itself as a talent and music publishing business, so this was very much the beginnings of this company.
However the founder, Ashley Tabor, like me, has his roots firmly in the radio industry. I believe for all businesses it is sensible to look for diverse yet related revenue streams, and I am sure we will see much more of this in large companies across all sectors in the years ahead.
Finally, what does the future hold for you? You've virtually done it all, so what's the next challenge?
I certainly haven’t done it all, and every day I look forward to something new. Global is still a very young business and we have a long way to go.
Richard Park is Group Executive Director, and Director of Broadcasting for Global UK.
You can visit their website here.