10 Questions : Mark Taylor

Staff Writer

Mark Taylor is the Group Program Director for Ace Broadcasters, and 2AY/3WM General Manager. In amongst his 800 jobs, he found time to answer 10 Questions on the Ace group.


Give us the history on where you've been and what you've done.

I started in 1980 at 5MU Murray Bridge as a night jock and ended up the breakfast announcer. From there 5PI (now 5CS – breakfast and PD), 5AD Adelaide (now Mixx 102.3,) station floater, back to 5PI as General Manager, 5AU General Manager, 3TR General Manager, 4MK General Manager, 3WM General Manager/Network Group PD.

And for the last year and ongoing 2AY/3WM General Manager and still Network Group PD of ACE. 


Despite the lure of the big smoke down the road in Melbourne, you have remained primarily focused on regional radio, tell us about the background to that?

I was always going to go to capital city radio, I had a stint as an announcer in the city. The idea was to go back out to the country become a GM and go back to the city as a GM.

But something happened when I joined 3WM – called ACE Radio – and you can only understand if you work for ACE, it would be like leaving your family to leave this organisation. 


You seem to have a focus on locally hosted programs – most of the time – is localism something you guys are focused on?

Yes, we are. We do fancy ourselves as pretty good at automation! We locally automate where possible. Yes, we share talent but the talent always need to do a separate program. It is not uncommon for one of our afternoon announcers to do 2 entire shows. For instance: my 3WM afternoon announcer also does afternoons on Gold 1242 Gippsland but he puts in full preparation for both shifts to make them very different.

We have a strong internal intranet prep site which means you can jump into another stations mode pretty quickly. Probably against industry trends, we do live network most of our breakfast programs. This came about after having staff constantly stolen to other networks, destroying breakfast duos and so on.

Jon Vertigan has been networked on 5 of our AM stations for over 6 years now. Five of our 6 FM stations share the same network breakfast show. We happily run 3 other breakfast shows two single and another duo, it is not a network policy and is totally dictated by available talent.

There are many local window opportunities in our breakfast programs as we use a combination of wan and satellite technology. Of course, on our FM stations we were the first external network to take Hamish and Andy and continue to take Fifi and Jules and the Hot 30. I see these programs as too good not to take. Our listeners deserve a mix of local broadcasting and the excellent products available from city markets as well.


Operating in primarily solus markets where Ace own both the stations, there is a risk of being insular in your outlook, do you keep across other networks and other markets?

We operate in two competitive markets – Gippsland and Albury/Wodonga – pretty much all of our decisions are based on what happens around us in those two markets. Myself and my senior programming team, constantly talk about what is going on around the nation. We also have Aircheck, which makes things a little easier too!


Ace Broadcasters are the only network to own a radio school (the Melbourne Radio School). How did that happen, and why?

The radio school was for sale and our Board saw it as a perfect fit to nurture talent – not only for our network but for the industry. It operates out of the building next door to our Head Office and gives us a base of Melbourne studios. We run a producer in Melbourne running imaging for the network and also hire facilities to Crocmedia.


A number of your stations provide entry for people to the industry, what do you look for when you are considering potential new on-air talent?

Enthusiam! And I always take note when they are here for work experience from Swinburne, AFTRS and the Radio School if they go home on the weekends or not! They have to want to become a part of these local communites.


In all size markets, big, medium, or small, the need for programming to assist with revenue generation is greater than ever. In solus markets, without perhaps the 'check-point' of competition, there is a risk this can go too far. How is the balance with your stations?

This was sorted out many years ago in ACE. Our stations know that our owners are concerned about the product and if we say that our FM stations, for instance, are playing 10 In A Row across the workday – the sales department aren't going to change that – and have not tried.


The last metropolitan station you listened to?

Gold 104 Melbourne


The last regional station, that wasn't your own, that you listened to?

The River 105.7 Albury


Finish this sentence (and give the answer, and the rationale) : the future of regional radio is……

Very solid as long as we continue to focus on our local market and broadcast across as many platforms as our listeners require. For instance, each ACE station has an ipad/iphone/android streaming app available, we heavily promote these and our streaming hours of use at all stations are incredible.

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