10 Questions with Drew Chapman

Drew Chapman is the CD for Grant Broadcasters River 949 in South East Queensland.

Radio Today’s Mark Hales chatted to Drew to find out his background. Where he got his break into radio and what happened to Drew with Fifi Box in New Zealand?

Ten Questions answered with Drew Chapman

As a bit of background, what stations have you worked at during your  career and in what roles?

I started at Mix and Sea FM Sunshine Coast while in high school in 1996 doing work experience/casual shifts/crosses etc. In 1999 I got my first full time gig as MD and Drive Announcer at the brand new Sea FM Townsville.September 2000 I moved to Triple M Sydney to do network mid dawns, which led to becoming “PD of weekends” and floating across the station.

In January 2002, I moved up the road from 2MMM to 4MMM to take up role as breakfast anchor for the “Homegrown breakfast show”. This role later grew into becoming producer of the show. By 2005 I moved into a day shift and became APD for Triple M.

In 2007 it was back to 2MMM to anchor the “Shebang for Breakfast with Marty and Fifi”. In 2008 my role was Operations Manager/Mornings Announcer at 2MMM. Then in 2009 (because I hadn’t been up and down the Pacific Highway enough!) I moved back into Workday announcer/APD at 4MMM. In late 2010, I became PD of Mix 106.3/104.7 in Canberra, where I spent the next 3 years. Since November 2013, I have been PD of River 949.

What got you into radio?

When I was 15, I used to LOVE listening to 92.7 Mix FM at night (when Mike Nicholls was doing the “Hot 20”) and I used to call up and request songs, win dodgy “Kulcha” CD’s, and in my squeaky teenage voice I would do ID’s over the phone.

I sent Mike a letter asking if I could do a station visit, he got straight back to me, and I was in there by the end of the week. Even though I was the quietest kid at school, I HAD to work in radio (mainly because I would no longer have to pay for “Breaka milk”).  From here,  I rode my bike 15 km’s each way from Maroochydore to Nambour a few times per week just so I could spend as much time at the station as possible. Highlight during this period was winning Big Macs for my entire class thanks to Mix FM (all of a sudden I became very popular)

Any jobs before radio?

From the age of 12 to 17 I had a 600 house pamphlet run 3 times a week and I  worked 2 afternoons a week at a Fruit and Veg market in Buderim on the Coast.

What is the best lesson you’ve learnt during your career?

Many lessons have been and continue to be learnt, but the one that springs to mind first is “listen more than you talk”. As tempting as it is to arrive at a station and change the world on the first day, I found that it’s very important to spend time listening to the station and to its people. These people have been at this station for longer than me, they know the station and can offer insights into the market. No 2 markets are the same, so one “bag of tricks” won’t work everywhere.

Describe a day in the life of Drew Chapman?

My day starts at 5.30am by tuning into the breakfast show. Even though we meet every day post show, the first part of my day is spent making sure we’re across what we need to be across.

Before 9am, while monitoring, I do the workday formguide, all writing (Promos, imaging, etc), rosters/reports etc done, so i can focus on breakfast/jocks/tactics/music during the day.

I meet with breakfast after 9am for between 30 and 60 minutes, where the main focus is on what’s coming up.

From there, every day differs with exec meetings, airchecks with the workday guys, sales meetings, product meetings, etc.

I work very closely with River MD (and former Radio Today editor) Mark Hales (we share an office, which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t enjoy as much as I do).

We spend a LOT of time on how we can make the station sound better every day.

Around 3 months of the year are spent on air (covering for holidays) and I jump on a weekend shift most weekends, as I think this is really important as part of the role.

Who are the radio people and radio stations you enjoy listening to away from work?

To be honest, I can only pick up one radio station where I live (which is the station I work at – the transmitter is about 2 km’s from the house!)

When I’m driving though, i spend time listening to most of the Brisbane stations, and streaming stations from overseas.

What is your most embarrassing radio moment?

There’s a few! Most from the early days, but there was one in 2007 when I was anchoring the Shebang in Sydney. We all went to Queenstown, New Zealand for a week. There was a lot of talk about going bungee jumping, which I was DESPERATE to avoid.

Fifi was also keen to avoid it, so I thought as long as Fifi didn’t do it, I might get out of it. Then, that night Fifi decided to bungee jump in the dark, so I had no way out. The next day it happened. I was deadset on that platform for at least 30 minutes, freaking out and thinking about which rock I was going to smash my head on before we finally let go (It was a tandem jump with one of the show’s producers)

I’d never been so happy to get into that boat below, until I walked back up to the office, where all the staff members were laughing HYSTERICALLY at our video. I asked them what was so funny, so they went back to the start and played it again.

My first instinct when falling was to flap like a bird..WHY?? I don’t know, but holy shit I looked stupid. When I was done flapping like a bird, the angle of the video looked like I was groping the producers chest, which I honestly wasn’t! But geez did I cop some grief on the show for weeks after the jump.

What’s the best part of your job? 

The best part of my job is working with like-minded people who also want River to sound the best it can, and make it different every day.

I love trying different things all the time, as I think a lot of stations have become too structured. Example – we did a “Back to the Future” day last year (To coincide with the date that they travelled to in the 2nd movie – October 21st 2015)

We discussed all sorts of options including “sprinkling” some songs from 1985 into the day. But why couldn’t we go all out and make a MASSIVE day out of it? From 5am till 6pm, we only played songs from 1985, and we literally took our listeners back there with news, sport, and even traffic updates from 1985. It’s great to have that kind of flexibility. The feedback from listeners was incredible.

(Complete this sentence)…. in 5 years from now I will be……

In Vegas…I actually will be, because I’m having my 40th birthday over there.

The future of radio is…….

It’s been happening for decades I know, but I believe the future of radio is LIVE and LOCAL. There’s only a handful of stations like ours left, one thing online radio won’t be able to do is connect locally.

(bonus question) What do you like doing in your spare time?

I live on a 100 acre farm, so the spare time is generally taken up with using some kind of machinery. A mower, tractor, whipper snipper or a quad bike. My fun spare time hobby though is taking photos of storms. I’ll drive hundreds of k’s just trying to get photos of lightning (I often wonder why too)

Mark Hales is former Editor of Radio Today, and Program Director of Nova 91.9.

He is now Music Director and Drive Announcer at River 94.9 in Ipswich, Queensland.

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