Staff Writer
Staff Writer

Revealed: Australian FM radio’s most successful programmers of all time (11-20)

In the second of a two-part series, Radio Today pays tribute to the most successful programmers of all time in Australian metro FM radio.

Following the unveiling of 1-10 earlier this week, we can now unveil the next ten.

The role of programmer is one of the most demanding, challenging and heavily criticised in this industry, and only a handful of people have ever held the title in Australian FM metro radio.

While the group PD role has changed over the years, the fundamentals are still the same; it’s about product, content and ratings.

The below list was more than two months in the making, formulated in consultation with industry heavyweights past and present.


11. Dave Cameron

Dave Cameron began his time with Southern Cross Austereo in 2000, serving as 2DayFM music director, before positions as the content director at Triple M and SAFM followed. During his time as the role of head of content for the Hit Network (2005-2015), Fox FM became Australia’s most listened to station, while Dave also oversaw the rise of Hamish and Andy into the juggernaut they are today. He remains at SCA to this day, having served as general manager since 2017.


12. Mike Fitzpatrick

Triple M’s head of content Mike Fitzpatrick leads the content teams for the Triple M Network across Australia’s metro markets. He is responsible for talent recruitment, development and coaching, music and listener research, as well as overseeing the overall “sound” of the network. He’s previously served as content director for Triple M and Southern Cross Austereo and got his start as a presenter and music director at B-Rock FM in Bathurst.  


13. Dan Bradley

Dan Bradley is a radio jack-of-all-trades, not only holding the position of content director at 102.9 Hot Tomato but also the director and founder of Kaizen Media, record label Laneway Music, Active Instore and Purple Wax. Like many, Dan began as an announcer, with his first gig coming at 7HO in Tassie. More announcing roles followed at 4AK and Triple M. He progressed through the ranks at SCA as music director at FM104.7, then Fox FM, and finally Triple M, before being snapped up by DMG Radio as their regional group PD. Perhaps his most impressive achievement was in his role as the founding programmer for Nova 100 Melbourne, taking the station to #1 within just 12 weeks.


14. Jeremy Millar

Jeremy Millar has been with the ABC for over a decade now in roles ranging from head of strategy and transformation radio to his current role as the senior strategist for strategic planning and change management, but it was as group program director of ARN from 2002 to 2007 that he really made his mark. Over that period, eight of ARN’s nine stations were ranked #1 in their target demographic, and Jeremy’s work building the overall strategy for the peak listening period of Mornings helped to develop and implement new network features that remain to this day.


15. Ian Grace

Ian Grace has spent more than three decades in radio and now serves as president at Virgin Radio International Limited, responsible for the development of Virgin’s distinctive and highly successful contemporary music-based radio programming. He is best known for his time as program director for Triple M Sydney and Melbourne, where Ian’s keen eye for talent meant he oversaw and helped to form some of the greatest radio shows of all time in Doug Mulray and later The D Generation. Ian helped to grow Triple M with his detailed market analysis and audience research, while he also spent time as an announcer and program director at 2SM.


16. Cherie Romaro

Cherie Romaro was the first female music programmer, program director and general manager in Australia. A pioneering force in the industry, Cherie served as the inaugural program director at Triple M Sydney in 1980, before moving to that same role at 2DayFM from 1982 – 1989. She assumed the position of group program director of Australian Radio Network from 1992-2000, in that time launching a new FM network, creating and launching MIX and Classic Hits. Cherie has since been recognised in the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame as one of Australia’s first women in telecommunications, and now operates an international radio and TV consulting company.


17. Scott Muller

Scott Muller is revered both in Australia and Europe for his excellent programming work with networks and stations including Austereo, Nova, GWR Media Group, and Capital Radio London. During his time at Austereo in the 1990s, Scott cut his teeth as program director and production director at stations including Fox FM, Triple M Sydney, 92.9 and 96FM. He made his name in Australia taking Nova 96.9 to #1 in the early 2000s, growing the station’s share to a massive 12% and breaking multiple industry records at the ACRAs. He then returned to the UK to successfully turn around Capital Radio London, leading it out of a 7-year decline and returning the Breakfast show to #1.


18. Gemma Fordham

Southern Cross Austereo’s current head of content Gemma Fordham rose to her first programming role in 2014 at New Zealand’s premier integrated media company NZME. She originally began her career at SCA as a receptionist, but quickly rose to the position of executive producer. Gemma then jetted overseas firstly to London at Heart FM and then spent some time away from radio in Los Angeles. Upon returning to Australia in 2010 Gemma returned to SCA as the content manager at 2DayFM Breakfast. She now oversees the content and talent across the entire network.


19. Derek Bargwanna

Derek Bargwanna started his radio career at NXFM as a panel operator and now serves as the head of content for both KIIS Sydney and Melbourne. He’s been instrumental in the day-to-day of legacy Breakfast show Kyle and Jackie O, from the early days at Southern Cross Austereo, coming across to ARN with the duo for 2014. Prior to his move to KIIS, Derek had spent over 15 years at SCA, having moved to 2DayFM from a content director role at Perth 92.9.


>20. Charlie Fox

His start in the industry came working at 2SM with Ian Grace, after which Charlie Fox would go on to become Triple M Sydney’s group program director for over a decade. He developed and worked alongside some incredible talent at that time, with the likes of Doug Mulray and Andrew Denton just the tip of the iceberg. After some time spent away from commercial in which he founded the ultimately unsuccessful world first streaming radio station 9th Planet, and the more successful music video streaming channel thebasement.com.au. Charlie then returned to radio at Australian Radio Network as content director at WSFM and The Edge but has since called time on his programming career.


>20. Lee Simon

Known as the ‘godfather’ of Triple M Melbourne, Lee Simon has been with the network from when it burst onto the scene as EON FM in 1980. While serving as program director, Lee was instrumental in bringing AFL to FM radio for the first time, and in 2017 celebrated 20 years of Triple M calling the footy. He started out as a high-rating jock first on 3XY from 1975.


As always, let us know in the comments if there’s anyone who you think we’ve missed, and check out numbers 1-10 here.

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Recent comments (11)
SALLY
20 Jul 2018 - 10:00 am

Well its good to see TWO bloody females listed here AT LAST.
What a disgrace for the radio industry that there were NONE in your Top Ten.
Women naturally have a better FEEL for content and programming. They may not be as competitive but they do it with much greater STYLE .

Mary
20 Jul 2018 - 10:03 am

Radio Today what are you doing now no one will get any work done today arguing about this poll. Thats all anyone here has talked about all week. Enough already.

Belinda
20 Jul 2018 - 11:15 am

This looks like a stretch. Are these two women included only because they are women? They dont seem to have the credentials or success that your other names have. I dont think any women wants to be included in anything just because they are women #metoo !

Michael
20 Jul 2018 - 11:55 am

One or two here with zero runs on the board

Rachel
20 Jul 2018 - 12:07 pm

My two cents.
#20 Charlie behind all these others doesn’t seem right?
Does #18 have the credentials so early, the network is not a success?
#11 deserved to be in an equal #10 spot one would think.
AM getting own list?

Dr.Dan
20 Jul 2018 - 1:21 pm

Baffled as why Ian Grace ranks only at 15.
IMO some of these programmers, albeit talented don’t even walk in the shadows of Grace.
Same for Cherie Romaro who had Brad March as her understudy at 2Day at one stage.
Polls will be polls.
Shout out to Dan Bradley.Going from strength to strength.
Gemma Fordham?

Mark
20 Jul 2018 - 3:00 pm

It’s early days for Gem keep listening.

Sock Puppet
21 Jul 2018 - 9:46 am

Some great content directors in this lot. Some questionable ones. And at least one that is yet to do much with a struggling station.

Arthur
21 Jul 2018 - 12:43 pm

The Top 10 was without question, the 10-20 is a little more dubious. Several outstanding and talented contributors but some media administrators which is a league of its own. Quite a few great creative programmers with proven track records deserve billing over popular names.

Neil Marks
21 Jul 2018 - 4:07 pm

Cant believe Bill Page of SAFM fame hasn’t got a gurnsey yet. Best mentor of talent ever. He would drive around regional areas listening to announcers who would be worth future investment.

Michael
23 Jul 2018 - 8:16 am

WHY are there so few women on this list ???? WELL it’s because there have been so few successful female Content Directors. That’s the bottom line here.