10 Questions with Mike Byrne
Mike Byrne is the Group CD in Newcastle for NX and KOFM. We caught up with Mike for Ten Questions. We talk his career, who influenced him over the years, what did he learn being a breakfast anchor in Sydney and with them about to move into a new building, if the walls could talk what would they say?
What got you into radio?
I was devastated when my careers advisor told me I would never be a brain surgeon, so I looked for an alternative.
Boom-tish…. some of your earlier influences?
I was an avid listener of Brisbane’s FM104. Back in the 80’s it was THE dominant station in Brisbane with jocks like Barry Drinkwater, Rex Morris, BBQ Bob Gallagher, the late Mr T Rod Tiley and Bill Healy (all legendary FM voices). I ran into their promotions manager at a careers advice expo who told me how he’d gotten into the biz. I thought… geez, can’t be that hard. I was lucky enough to get into AFTRS and many of the great teachers like Arch McCurdy, Phil Charlie and Lois Baird were early influence’s too.
This is your second run in Newcastle as Group CD – what brought you back into the fold?
Actually it’s my third run here after a short stint at B105 in 2001 interrupted my first run. More recently I was doing breakfast with the awesome Marnie T at River949. I’d been there for nearly 6 years (firstly as PD) and it was a great tree change after a few years in Cap Cities. I promised my daughter she would get through High School at the one school, so when she graduated I looked for other opportunities. As much as I enjoyed doing breakfast, Programming is where my real skills lie. I love the professionalism of SCA, the depth of talent around the group and I could see that the 2 brands I’d helped become so dominant needed some guidance. So when Mickey tapped me on the shoulder to come back they didn’t have to ask me twice.
A while back you anchored breakfast at then Mix1065 – what did you learn from that?
Frankly I was the wrong person for that role. I learnt a lot about myself and my abilities in those 4 months.
The last metro station you listened to?
Smooth 95.3. We stream it throughout the house most weekends. They play virtually nothing that we play on either of my stations so it’s just a relief. I also love KOST and BBC Radio 1 too so listen to them a bit on weekends.
Ripper survey result last week in Newcastle – the sum of all parts or something that stands out that helped deliver the results for both brands?
No it’s always the sum of the parts.
A well thought out and well executed strategy, some strong marketing and the best talent in the market. We made some difficult decisions last year with NX breakfast and KO drive which have proven to be prudent.
We researched the market and built the product around that. Nick and Sophie just sound great together. They work extremely hard and are a perfect fit for Newcastle. Tanya and Steve are the best regional breakfast show in the country. In fact the entire product team is just superb. And our new GM Ashley Myatt has been an incredible support too. There’s more growth in both brands to come. We’re not satisfied yet.
Hypothetically If a GfK rep came to your front door handing out a survey diary, would you accept it?
Of course not. I’d pass it straight on to a “very good friend.”
Soon you’ve got yourself some new digs… now the old building on the Pacific Hwy, Charlestown … if the walls could talk what would they say?
Little A (Andy Simpson) would have more stories than the walls in this building. But hasn’t it seen some incredible talent move through over the years? David Jones, Sammy Power, Derek Bargwanna, Michael Christian, Mike Duncan, David Collins, Garth Russell, Brendon Whippy Dangar, Penny Cooper, the late Shane McFarlane and some colourful characters too like James Ashby, Jim Morrison and Barry Graham. They’ve all worked in the bunker on the hill and created some brilliant radio. The design of this building show’s how much radio has changed in just 30 years. We’ve totally outgrown the place. We miss many of those names, but we won’t miss this building!
Describe your perfect weekend?
Any weekend out on the lake in my boat is a good weekend! I’ve also been learning how to surf but it’s fair to say Mick Fanning has nothing to worry about.
The future of radio is…….
Pretty strong I think. Providing we remember why people use the medium. Remaining relevant to your listening and client customers is still what it’s all about. The right mix of strong talent and localism will always attract an audience.