10 Questions with Scott Mayman

A 30 year career so far in radio news and news/talk programming. Mark Hales caught up with Scott Mayman for 10 Questions.

Mark: Your career has mainly been in radio journalism, what stations have you worked at ?

Scott: 4EB/QIT news (1985/1986), 4KQ (late 80’s), 4CC Gladstone 1989, Ipswich QFM (1990),  2KY and 2SM (1991-1992), RADIO 56 4GY and RADIO 97 (1992, 1993), 4BH and 4BC (1994, 1995), SEA FM 1996, HEAT FM NOOSA 1997-1998. Then, 1998 to 2005:  KCMO-AM, KCFX-FM, CBS RADIO NEWS (ongoing) and back to Australia to SEA FM, ABC RADIO and News Director at 4BC.

Mark : What changes to radio news have you seen over that 30 years ?

Scott: I’ve seen good and bad changes. Some newsrooms have increased with some very good credible journos being employed which is great. Of course, we’ve seen a downsizing and the introduction of younger junior journos who don’t get the mentoring that they should. The reporting of court stories today doesn’t reflect the way they used to be reported in the 1980’s. Today,  Newsrooms get away with so much more – and I’ve heard so many rookie mistakes being made, but that’s only because many radio newsrooms employ junior journos who need mentoring by senior journos. Sadly, that particular ratio is disproportionate these days.

 Mark: Where do you see radio news heading in the future ?

Scott: Sadly, I see it being downsized further UNLESS a radio station operator – somewhere in Australia realises we need to embrace change (from all sides).

Last year, I went back to the U.S. and caught up with some American programmers who I previously worked with. They showed me how NEWS is no longer considered a “COST CENTRE”. It’s now a self reliant and self-revenue generating product. It actually makes money for the station in an appropriate way which did not cheapen its credibility. It’s news with personality. They’ve gone back to employing senior journos after realising, the younger entry level journos needed help. (not to mention, the multi-million dollar lawsuits when a journo said something they shouldn’t have). I was impressed with the way they’ve done this. The same could work here in Australia if someone would be willing to give it a go.

Mark: You just started doing breakfast at Radio 97 on the Gold Coast. Why the move from news to programming after so many years ?

Scott: THE MONEY !!! – but seriously, Programming isn’t new to me. I have been on-air previously. I was on-air at Radio 97 in 1992, but was hosting my own show on ABC Radio. Not to mention, my programming work in the United States. I learned the hard way, many years ago, you need to be versatile and “ahead of the pack”.

So, when I was made redundant many years ago, I made a commitment to learn as much as I could about broadcasting. From News to Programs – copywriting to schedules – even at a management level (General Manager, Ops manager etc). I have some very good friends in radio who spoke with me about the gig – and Radio 97’s owner Bill Carallis was very welcoming, gracious and understanding of recent media events which involved me. The opportunity for a regular Monday to Friday gig with a regular paycheck where I could REALLY enjoy and have fun in radio was the main drawcard – plus I get my weekends back to spend time with my wife and young son. It’s also been great catching up with old friends at the station which also made it great value to “COME HOME” again – and the challenge of doing a job that I’m very passionate about.

Mark: What are the main differences/similarities between the two roles?

Scott: Many have told me, you can have fun in a programming role. But you need to be credible in News. Having done both over the past 30 years, I’ve found there are more similarities than differences. I think News is actually a tough role with a lot of self discipline as you need to provide a variety of news items in a short amount of time. But a lot can be said about Programming as well which allows you to expand on those news stories and explain them in greater detail. There are actually a lot of similarities in the two and when it comes to “ON-AIR” –  I think if you get some broadcast time in programming, it can help you a lot as a news presenter. Above all, be yourself in both departments.

Mark: Describe your Radio 97 program ?

Scott: It’s back to the traditional heritage of radio. “Listener driven”. Sure, you’ve got your Secret Sound and music, but I’m bringing back the fundamentals of broadcasting – that “ONE ON ONE” Connection with the listener. I’m not shouting at them, I’m talking with them and having fun. I aim to be their friend which is something you don’t see/hear these days.

Mark: How are you utilising your journalistic skills in your breakfast role ?  

Scott: A lot of it is editorial judgement. Selecting stories that the listener might be interested in, or if it’s a local yarn. Then, tracking down audio that will match the story.. and how do I make sure we don’t get sued! Is the content appropriate for the breakfast audience? I’ve also got live to air interviews, so I still like to formulate questions that can give the talent the opportunity to answer in detail. A wise man once told me – “Let the Talent talk – not me”!

Mark: Which radio news people do you enjoy listening to ?

Scott: I’ll answer this in an objective manner as I don’t want to be involved in the “WOMEN vs MEN” scenario. So I’ll mention one of each.

Hope Fabillar is based at ARN Headquarters and reads news on Brisbane 97.3 and 4KQ. Not only, in my opinion, does she have a beautiful voice but she’s a well rounded journo who’s had years of experience in Brissy, Sydney and Melbourne. She had a tough start to her radio news career (Haven’t we all)! but she got it together and is now a credible radio news veteran.

As for the blokes: Hamish Finlay has one of the most authoritive credible sounding voices that just flows. In addition, he’s a very senior journo. Over the years, I’ve been proud to work with both of them.

Mark: Which radio programming people do you enjoy listening to ?

Scott: Again, I’ll answer with a male AND female response. But to answer this,  I must turn to the United States (sorry Aussies). For the blokes:  Mike Murphy. He was a talk back host in Kansas City at Radio KCMO-AM. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot about making a ONE ON ONE Connection with the listener. He had an incredible way of telling a story on the air – not reading it and not yelling it. He was incredibly inviting with his talkback callers and knew how to get the best out of them.

FOR THE WOMEN: Her name is Karen Barber. She was a Breakfast DJ (or as they say in America, “Morning Drive” host on a classic rock station. BUT – she was previously a program manager and operations manager. Once again, A veteran who handled herself well (both on-air and behind the scenes). She taught me a lot about programming – and also had a very commanding style on-air. Very well respected. BTW: I must acknowledge my own mentors. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Without them, not only would I not be here, but so many talented news and programming people owe their current jobs to these people. Thank you mentors!

Mark: If you could do one radio gig, anywhere in the world, what would be your dream gig ?

Scott: There are so many thoughts that come to mind. My wife, son and I love to travel, so perhaps I could become the next 60 Minutes reporter? OR perhaps the guy who fills in at radio stations in Australia and America? – But the one radio gig I’d love, is the radio gig that offers stability, respect, pride and FUN in what you do, whether it’s news or programming.

I’m getting a lot of that in the job I’m doing now at Radio 97 so perhaps, THIS is the dream gig! In all honesty, this is broadcasting. You meet good people and you meet bad people. All sorts of good things happen – all sorts of shit happens. People give you a helping hand – while others bully you or trash you. This is probably one of those Questions, that this reporter can’t comment on.

 You can contact Scott here

Mark Hales is former Editor of Radio Today, and Program Director of Nova 91.9.

He is now Music Director and Drive Announcer at River 94.9 in Ipswich, Queensland.

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