10 Questions: Ashley Myatt
Ashley Myatt is the Regional General Manager in Western Australia for Southern Cross Austereo, responsible for the Radiowest and the Hot FM group. In between enjoying a typically spectacular Bunbury autumn day, he gave us his thoughts on the following 10 Questions:
So what's the background, where have you worked and in what roles?
I started as the 4RO Promotions Manager in Rockhampton about 16 years ago. After 12 months, I was persuaded to join the sales team and then progressed to General Sales Manager. My first job as General Manager was at 2MC FM & Star FM in Port Macquarie, combined with a short stint managing Coffs Harbour’s 2CS FM & Star FM too.
I then became the GM of Cairns’ 4CA FM & HOT FM. My current role is the Regional GM of Southern Cross Austereo’s Western group, which is the RadioWest & HOT FM network throughout the southern half of regional WA.
It's a long way from Cairns to Bunbury – probably about as opposite as you can get within Australia! Why did you decide to 'go west'?
I thought we’d achieved some great goals in Cairns and I’d had a heap of fun, but perhaps it was time to experience more. Bunbury was a great opportunity for me to stay regional but have more responsibility and experiences. And very importantly, my wife was born in WA and wanted to come back here to live for a while.
I had no idea about WA at the time, but it’s worked out well professionally and personally.
From the DMG days, through to Southern Cross Austereo, the WA regional operations out of Bunbury have always been quite self-sufficient and operated with minimal group involvement. With the SCA merger, are there any changes that flow through to the WA regional group, or is it business as usual?
Both I think. It is business as usual, but wherever it makes sense we use the greater resources now available to us nationwide. We are given the autonomy to provide what is best for our regional communities, but we also have the benefit of tapping into our very successful national framework to top up what we cannot provide locally, such as content like Fifi & Jules or the Dead Set Legends, programming research, shared technology and systems, and so on. I think it’s the best of both worlds.
Your stations run a lot of networking, given that, talk us through how you engage with your local communities.
I’m passionate about providing good radio and then obviously getting a good return on that. Local content on radio is great but it’s got to be compelling and exceed a quality standard. It has to be both entertaining and relevant. You cannot make it viable to provide that locally 24/7 in some of our smaller regions.
So I believe we make the marriage work very well between providing a great standard of local content mixed with the top quality national content our group creates. HOT FM is entertainment driven, and RadioWest beats the local drum. Every one of our regional WA markets has a local RadioWest breakfast show, which includes some markets with as little as 5-10,000 people. All but Kalgoorlie and Bunbury have a specific agri-business 1 hour show every weekday morning.
(pictured left: RadioWest 6KG Kalgoorlie Breakfast Announcer, Glenn Wilson)
We are a primary driver of all our major local events. No matter what time of the day or week, we are committed to broadcasting 24/7 for local emergencies, as we did for the recent Margaret River fires. The local footy games are broadcast every Sunday all season throughout the Wheatbelt markets, and the local finals are broadcast in Kalgoorlie & Bunbury. It’s a good quality call too.
Our local communities have helped us raise almost $500,000 over the last 4 years for the Princess Margaret Children’s hospital to assist with either new equipment or travel subsidies specifically for families outside of Perth. We provide a regional WA news service that’s relevant.
HOT FM’s recent $30 or $30,000 wedding created a local ground-swell I have not seen before both for social media or traditional interaction. A HOT FM “Home Delivered” tour was just for fun, but involved the breakfast team travelling to every single local market and then creating & cooking a different pizza according to the most popular local ingredients that community requested. We just concluded running a “Best Of” for every local community to find that town’s best fish & chip shop, best bakery, best newsagency, etc which was all based on each community’s votes (and reflected the sheer local passion each town had).
Whether it’s the more traditional local programming or even the fun local stunts, I am proud of the way our stations engage with our local communities throughout regional WA.
Revenue pressure is everywhere, and clients these days expect more accountability for their marketing spends. In your markets, where you have no official ratings, how do you manage to ensure that clients campaigns are successful?
A client can start making money from regional radio in less than a week. A campaign can be sorted on a Mon, creative can be onair by Wed (we would normally like longer!), and results by Fri. I think sometimes we forget how easy and simple it is.
We quantify what the client wants to realistically achieve, we build a campaign to satisfy that, and then we monitor it with the client and tweak it along the way if we need to. It is true that local client partnerships can be very strong, but that won’t save you in the longer term if you are not making them money.
Ratings may assist more in a radio competitive marketplace. We have a duopoly in almost all of our WA regions targeting the overall 18-54 demographic. So rather than radio, our competition is TV, print and new media. We’ve found that results for clients will always win and consistently grow your share in a regional environment.
You live in an amazingly beautiful part of the world in Bunbury, and you have lived in Cairns which is surrounded by beautiful places – however both are so different in their visual appeal. From a picturesque perspective – what wins – Bunbury or Cairns?
They are both absolutely stunning in different ways. I miss the social life of Cairns and the humid, misty clouds at the top of the mountains. But the perfect WA beaches, Margaret River wineries, Esperance’s islands, Albany’s harbour, the rolling Wheatbelt hills, the Kalgoorlie Cup, and lots more make it pretty special here in WA too.
I think the West is more ‘patriotic’ than Far North Queenslanders too. Just, and that’s saying a lot. But ideally if I could combine the summer of Bunbury and the winter of Cairns, I’d be very happy.
Last concert you ever went to?
Southbound. A fantastic live music outdoor event in Busselton.
Last station you listened to, that wasn't one of yours?
I’m not sure what was the last, but in the last week it would have been ABC, 92.9, Nova, Mix, JJJ & Spirit. I like all forms of radio.
What was the worst thing that ever happened to you in your career?
I wasn’t successful at combining the Coffs Harbour & Port Macquarie managerial role. It was a taxing time trying. Other than that, I’m glad I’ve had so many experiences, good and bad. I mightn’t have thought so at the time, but it does make you a little wiser each time perhaps. I still always think it’s a low point though when an individual doesn’t get closer to their potential for whatever reason.
Finish this sentence. The winner of the AFL grand final this year will be:
From WA of course. And Arsenal for next year’s EPL title.
Ashley Myatt is the Regional General Manager in Western Australia for Southern Cross Austereo, responsible for the Radiowest and the Hot FM group.