10 Questions: Dave Carter
Dave Carter is the Program Director at Crocmedia, based in Melbourne. We threw 10 Questions at him, and he came right back at us with these comments.
You're at Crocmedia now, give us your history and what you've done.
How long have you got? I started my radio career at 3TR in Sale after attending Max Rowley’s Media Academy in Sydney. The difference in studio technology was a gap equivalent to the Grand Canyon but somehow I managed to bluff my way through the first few months.
I did everything from mid-dawns to nights, drive, fill-in breakfasts, weekend music specials and lots and lots and lots of carting! I owe a lot to my first PD, Steve Mummery, and my first GM, Tony Bell. Those two guys were very different but both very instrumental in helping shape my radio career.
Another guy at 3TR who had an immense impact was a production guy named Brad Worth (sadly, no longer with us). Brad encouraged bringing out “the inner me” on air and to always be the best version of myself that I could be and I will always remember that. I moved to breakfast at 3CV in Bendigo (when it was a rock station) then onto mid-dawns at Classic Hits 3TT (now MIX 101.1) before heading to Canberra to do breakfast at KIX FM (at the time, also a rock station and now MIX 106.3) before returning to 3TR as drive host and music director.
I headed south as part of the inaugural line-up at TTT-FM Hobart (now SEA FM) before returning again to 3TR to do music and drive. I went to 3SR and SUN-FM Shepparton as Program Director before joining MCM as their first male Affiliate Relations Manager (apparently us radio blokes preferred talking to females on the phone… who knew?!).
From there, I moved into a programming role at MCM. I met another two very influential people in my career at MCM – Tony McGinn and Bruce Turnbull. Both encouraged me to dream big. That’s how Live At The Chapel came about in 1999. In 2002, I moved to Granada Television as EP of Light Entertainment and Formats and from there went on to become manager and lecturer at the Melbourne Radio School and then developed the RADD (Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drink Driving) campaign with Peter Rubinstein and Peter Saxon from Radiowise.
That was a great initiative, but before too long I found myself tempted back to MCM as GM of Radio, where I stayed for another 7 years.
You spent 100 years at MCM, why make the jump to a new role?
It didn’t feel like 100 years, but it’s a lot like being a teenager and deciding to leave the family home. There’s a great sense of familiarity and comfort in the same surroundings and people day after day, but if you’re ambitious and curious to see what else is out there beyond your own four walls, you’ll eventually go seeking those opportunities.
Many people wouldn’t know it, but I’m a risk taker and I’m restless for new and better ways of doing things and very fond of new ideas. I’m always looking for inspiration and for people who share my passion for developing new things. There’s a lot more that we could be doing as a radio industry to engage and entertain the public and I’m keen to explore those things.
Crocmedia is a relatively young company, tell us about them?
Crocmedia creates brand-funded entertainment, mostly around the sports genre. We have some great brands, including Off The Bench, Sportsday and of course, AFL LIVE – our very own coverage of 6 AFL games per week across regional Australia.
Our focus is on creating entertaining and informative environments with integrated brand messages. We work hard at trying to build relationships with our radio station partners, our talent and of course our clients. A lot of relationships with clients are formed by bringing them in to experience what we do and to meet our talent – it’s very easy to forget how powerful that can be.
Alongside our radio content, we create some exciting TV properties too, with TAC CUP Future Stars and Off The Bench TV two of our stars in that area. We have a dedicated news team, headed up by Damian Barrett (left), who is one of the nicest guys in the business. We’re very active in the social media space as well.
We’re a small company, always chasing big ideas.
Is sport's programming going to remain the backbone of the company, or do you see it diversifying into other forms of syndicated or brand funded content?
There’s a lot of sport in the catalogue, that’s for sure, and that comes in part from having an award-winning sports journalist as your CEO. But that will only take you so far and sport is so fragmented on a supported basis in this country that it makes sense to try and branch out into other areas.
We’ve done some stuff in the lifestyle and entertainment genres, and that is definitely a development area for us and we have some key projects in the pipeline as we speak. It’s easy to try and want to grow too fast in this business and what we say no to at this point is just as important as what we say yes to.
So is your main focus around sharpening up existing products, or identifying new products to take to market?
For sure, the focus is on making our existing products even better, but so much happens so fast in this business that it’s hard to pass on new opportunities. They just have to fit with our current core competencies and offer us a level of commercial growth. We need to commercialise our media properties as that’s the name of our game, so commercialising the opportunities we have within our marquee products is mission critical to the business.
If we get that right, then new product expansion becomes a natural extension of increased funds and increased resources.
Most of your products seem to be taken up by AM broadcasters, with obviously a sports-talk lean to the content. Do you have an interest in expanding into the FM stations?
We definitely have an interest in the FM market and some of our products are already on FM stations in regional markets. The key is – as I was once told – identifying a hole in the market and a market in the hole.
As a syndicator and program supplier to networks, you have to be able to offer something exciting that networks can’t get or at least, can’t get easily. Great talent often leads the way in that equation, but the idea behind the talent must be strong and both must be able to move and breathe over time. Then it’s about being able to resource it properly and monetise it.
Crocmedia has a strong history with AFL, however to get into the northern markets NRL is the main game. What are you doing around NRL.
We’re currently testing the waters with the NRL and would definitely like to have a deeper engagement with rugby league. To be honest, we’ve been supporting the NRL for some time already in regional markets across New South Wales and Queensland, through our existing programs Off The Bench (the NRL version), Sportsday Queensland and The Pulling Power Pre-Game Show (formerly the Sporting Hour of Power).
We’ve got some fantastic talent heading up these shows, including Ben Ikin, Gorden Tallis and Robbie Kearns. Recently, we were working with NSW league legends Brad Fittler and Laurie Daley on separate projects and we’re keen to keep exploring opportunities with them and other league personalities in the media space.
The NRL is in an exciting place right now and the game is only going to expand further and I believe Crocmedia are well placed to be a significant part of that expansion.
As Program Director, you're in the unique position of having the guy who owns a fair bit of the company (Craig Hutchison – left) on-air in at least one of the shows you provide. How's it going to work if the boss has a bad show and you have to give him a crack?
Very delicately! He’s bigger than me too, which poses a problem. A late Friday night email crack works best… then I immediately shut down my email for the weekend.
What was the last radio station you listened to?
Triple M Melbourne
The future of radio is…….
in relevant entertainment. I believe the audience is more astute than what a lot of people give them credit for and with a generation of kids coming into the audience mix who don’t see radio as their first choice music destination, unique personalities with an engaging take on life and the world around us are going to become more important than ever.
And getting those personalities out there onto as many access points as possible. Keep an open mind, think differently and be prepared to take risks – at the very least, it will be an interesting ride.
Dave Carter is the Program Director of Crocmedia, you can drop him an email here.