Content Kings: Brad March
Brad March has been hugely influential in shaping the Australian commercial radio landscape.
At 27 he became the youngest PD in a major metro market at 3MMM. In his time as group program director and group managing director for Austereo (SCA), he drove the Hit and Triple M Networks to market-leading positions around the country and established a lasting legacy for his hands-on approach to talent management, creativity and strategic thinking.
He was appointed to the Austereo board and was on the team that eventually floated Austereo on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Brad’s career has also included successful roles such as as group programming consultant at ARN and program director at several market-leading stations including 2DayFM, B105 and FM104.7
Brad’s influence in the industry is still being felt today. As the managing director of radio talent management company Marchmedia, Brad now manages some of Australia’s top talent including Jackie ‘O’ Henderson, triple j’s Ben and Liam, and The Chaser.
Below, Brad chats about how to gain success in programming, in the final part of Radio Today‘s ‘Content Kings’ interview series.
What are the common factors you see when looking back on the great programmers of Australian radio?
Most are very determined and driven people. So I think the will to win, competitiveness has a lot to do with it. And you need courage, lots of it!
They would all have known how important it is to surround themselves with the right people. And they all share that hunger to learn. The saying I like the most is ‘Most people want to win but it’s being prepared to do what it takes to win that matters the most’. In programming, to win it’s important to get that right balance of science and creativity.
Gut feel and research!
What changes have you seen in the programmer role compared to when you first started out?
As Austereo’s managing director I made sure that product and ratings came first, sales second.
That seems to have changed a lot now. Radio is a content-driven business, you have to get the product right first. Programmers today have a lot more to deal with, a lot of sales promotions and admin.
The great challenge is coming up with sales solutions that work for programming too and it can be done. There are some great examples around where that happens.
And the really big change is technology; CDs have to now oversee social media and online as well.
How do you see the future of the programmer or group PD role developing?
The basics remain the same – Breakfast, Talent Management, Strategy, Music, Research, Marketing/Promotion, Packaging, Creativity; they’re all important.
A lot of the key decision making is now even more centralised with the Group PDs.
The PD role in some cases has become more of an operational role. Hopefully, that will swing back a bit but that will depend on the skills and strength of the individual PD’s
Programming and sales now have to work even closer together. Programming has become more sophisticated and will continue to be in the future as radio content competes more with other entertainment platforms.
Also, I think we will see some Breakfast shows networked in the future, there are only a few truly great breakfast shows and we’ve seen how successful the networking of Drive shows have been here, and networking Breakfast has already been successful in the US.
What are your proudest moments developing talent?
The highlights would probably be….
Hiring Jane Kennedy who was doing traffic at 3UZ to join Triple M Melbourne Breakfast and watching her success with Working Dog and now on Drive!
Getting Wendy Harmer to move to Sydney and being Number 1 for a decade, she was the first women to truly ‘star’ on breakfast radio.
After many years of trying, getting Andrew Denton to do radio and hiring him and Amanda Keller; it was great to see their huge success.
Hiring and overseeing Tony [Martin] and Mick [Molloy] – ‘Martin Molloy’ the first ever national Drive show. A real groundbreaker it lead the way for so many other shows.
Working with B105 breakfast – Jamie Dunn and the team scoring over 30% ratings.
Pairing Matt Tilley and Tracy together for FOX Breakfast and them reaching Number 1 in a very short time.
More recently Jackie O and the long-term deal she got with ARN, getting equal pay, parity with Kyle and becoming the highest paid woman in Australian media.
So well deserved and very proud of her.
And taking Ben and Liam from Adelaide community radio to triple j national breakfast. Very proud of those guys.
Who is the best programmer working right now?
That is a really hard question to answer as they are all great in their own way. All of the Group PDs here are world class.
A lot of our PDs would do very well in competitive overseas markets like the US and UK, and some have!
It’s so important to teach, coach and support new programming talent for the future, as well as nurturing young new on-air talent.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers today?
Learn as much as you can. Listen more than you speak. Find people who can mentor you.
Don’t get too caught up in the hype and bullshit. Study strategy. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Learn to understand and think like your target audience. Work out ways to deal with the pressure.
Strive to always improve – yourself and the product.
And have some fun along the way!