10 Questions: Ryan Rathbone

Staff Writer

Former SCA, ARN and Nova programmer Ryan Rathbone jumped across the ditch to New Zealand over Christmas to be the new Group talent Coach-Music for MediaWorks seven national brands and The Edge TV, which is a free nationwide 24 hour music channel.

We caught up with Ryan armed with only 10 questions to find out the state of play in NZ.  We will also chat about his career so far and the best bit of advice he has been given.

Q1: You’ve been programming for since the age of 18 and at 32 you’ve worked for all three major Australian networks in senior programming roles.  Which network is the best to work for?

Ryan: Wow that’s a loaded question… Each network has positive points, but I think that it is up to the individual to decide which has the values that resonate with them.  For me it’s all about the people and what I can learn from them. I’ve been very lucky to have surrounded myself with great people throughout my career regardless of the network, and I continue to learn and sharpen my skills every day. 

Q2: What is your proudest career moment to date?

Ryan: Having the privilege of leading the team at Nova 106.9 in Brisbane to seventeen 10+ wins was good but seeing shows I cast or people I coached succeed outweighs ratings results any day.

I really enjoyed seeing “Meshel, Tim & Marty”, a show I cast and built go national on Nova.  My work experience kid in Rockhampton Matt Acton killed it at SCA and now ARN. The street guy Dan Anstey developed into a great talent in his own right for SCA, and a bunch of others both on and off-air that I’ve been lucky enough to know and practice my craft on over the years.


Q3: What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career?

Ryan:  “Don’t work with F&*^wits”. I won’t tell you who said that, but I was young and clearly that person impacted my vocabulary long term. I’ll translate that for you to something publishable, “try to work with likeminded people with similar values”.

Q4: Why have you made the move to New Zealand?

Ryan: My long term career plan is to be a group programmer / consultant, so I felt exposure to different programming strategies and market situations was the next logical step for me. But more specifically the role here was critical in my decision to move as I believe talent and content is the future for all media brands.

Q5: Let’s just look at that a little more.  What do you mean by “talent and content is the future for all media brands”?

Ryan: Online has already changed the game for traditional media with large revenues being diverted into new media, but without compelling content and the talent to create and execute it you don’t have a product, it’s just a delivery system. Regardless of the platform I’ll be creating content to populate it, engage and deliver an audience because that is the future of programming.

Q6: So the MediaWorks title you have is “Group talent Coach”, what does that involve? 

Ryan: Basically I’m like an internal consultant working across all Mediaworks music radio brands and the Edge TV. The objective is to work with the Group Content Director and Network Content Directors on improving their brands content by coaching their talent to improve overall on-air execution and planning plus building new shows, identifying and growing new talent for the group.

Q7: How do you rate the talent in New Zealand? 

Ryan: Their drive, ideas, passion and ability are really competitive with Australian standards but they don’t have the support teams of our Sydney / Melbourne stations, even with a potential cume of a similar size to those cities.

Their humour is virtually the same too but unlike radio at home, “radio people” are still big stars on the radio here, only a handful of comedians and reality TV stars, Sportsmen and TV presenters are on-air here as without support teams “radio people” are critical to get the execution and behind the scenes radio stuff done.

Q8: How does Aussie talent go On-Air in New Zealand?

Ryan: ZM has aired Hamish and Andy’s best of shows every weekend for years, Labby’s also doing drive on ZM plus the George FM’s drive guy is an Aussie, so it does happen.

But a few months into living here it’s been made very clear to me New Zealanders are very competitive with Australia in general and while they like us they like nothing more than beating us and seeing us lose anything to them. So like getting a big Sydney breakfast personality to work in Melbourne against a local hero it’s an uphill battle but not impossible.

The big opportunities I can see for Aussies here in New Zealand would be off-air roles like producing, promotions and digital content producers.  These are what I see as growth areas here with changes coming to radio survey methodology in coming years and a focus on digital from all media companies.

Q9: The last few weeks on RadioToday we have been covering the news on NZ surveys.  The first round has cancelled and now NZME, your competitor is going it alone, what’s your take on it all?


Ryan: The two major commercial networks with Radio NZ, the independent radio stations, and The Radio Broadcasters Association agreed to suspend survey 1 this year and review the current industry standard similar to what CRA did in Australia recently with the shift to GFK and digital measurement. Peter Don and David Kidd whom I respect greatly will be presenting their recommendations to the New Zealand radio industry shortly, which I’m sure will offer a more informed and in-depth opinion than I could on the subject.

Q10: Ok, fair enough.  Final one – Are you still skateboarding?  

Ryan: Yes absolutely I am, although not as much as I once did… I think it’s very important to have interests outside of radio and drinking.  Skateboarding is mine and Auckland has some sweet skate parks.




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