Revealed: The 25 most creative people in Australian radio for 2019
Who are the most creative people in Australian radio today? We all love a list so I’ve decided to have a crack at it.
I’ve worked with hundreds of talented creative people in my 20+ years in radio and it really is hard to isolate the absolute cream of the crop.
Firstly, how do you define ‘creativity’? In the context of radio I go for people who bring original and bold thinking. They have the proven creative attributes of curiosity and confidence – and they do it consistently.
To make it fair, I’ve removed on-air personalities from the list (sorry to them!). The main reason is this. How could you pick who is more creative out of Chrissie Swan and Kate Langbroek for example? Or Kyle Sandilands and Mick Molloy? Hamish or Andy? And if I did include people who are currently on-air, they’d dominate a large part of the list, which would then make it a very different kind of exercise.
This list is my attempt to put together an all-star team. The first 25 or so people I’d pick to work on a new station launch or a difficult client brief. The 25 people I could imagine myself saying ‘hey – I really want your brilliant brain on this’. The 25 who are going to be original and diverse in their thinking and not get lost in groupthink.
Another thing to note is there are many brilliant creatives who are no longer working in Australian radio. They are either overseas (mostly in New Zealand it seems), or have recently left radio altogether and are pursuing other careers.
My eligibility criteria is simple – being employed in Australian commercial radio in an off-air capacity at the time of making the list. That’s it.
If you’re not on it, I apologise. Of course, it has no real bearing on your creative ability. I firmly believe everyone is creative and radio is blessed with many people who bring it daily. If I had a list of 100 names I could have filled it easily.
There are also brilliantly talented people who are simply amazing at getting other people’s ideas executed. They aren’t on this list but they are critical to the creative process otherwise nothing would ever get made. This list contains the original idea generators, the sparks, the crazy, and the brave.
Lists exist to stir up debate but I also wanted to give some brilliant people a small spot in the sunshine. No doubt your own list would be different – but this is mine.
Adam Williscroft – Head of Digital Content, SCA
I love Adam’s understated way of thinking. He connects the big picture with the execution and without dominating the conversation. He champions the braver idea, the one that gets street talk and is underrated in his creative contribution to radio.
Adrian Brine – Head of Talent Development, SCA
He thinks big without being brash. The least ego in any creative mind I’ve ever met. Helps other people make their ideas better before developing his own. Adrian gets excited to hear ideas executed and underrates his own creative ability which in itself is immense. A rare mix.
Andy Mathers – General Manager – K Rock & Bay FM Geelong, Grant Broadcasters
You might be surprised to see a GM in this list, but a more creative GM you won’t find. His early foray into radio as a Copywriter, Account Manager and Sales Manager helped develop his secret weapon – his sense of humour. Blend that with passion and empathy and Andy is the GM you want running your station if you’re in a creative role.
Ben Ryan – Production Manager Brisbane, NOVA Entertainment
His mind is from another planet. He comes at challenges in ways that excite and delight you. I love how Ben goes about his work with little fuss. He’s reliable and always gives you a more creative result than you could ever have asked for.
Brett Nossiter – Content Director – iHeart Radio, ARN
Nozz is absurd in a brilliant way. When they were handing out cans of energy, Brett swallowed the vending machine. His ability to visualise ideas and make them happen means you get the most original solutions no matter what the format.
Cam Marlowe – Creative Director Adelaide, SCA
Cam is so quick it’s hard to keep up. Part Ricky Gervais, part Robin Williams – Cam can take idea generation to places that make you laugh, make you think and most of all leave you impressed.
Corey Layton – Head of Commercial Product and Audio Partnerships, ARN
I love Corey’s combination of heart, head and hip pocket. The most commercially creative guy who treats every challenge with equal respect: from a breakfast show to a difficult client brief. If I could clone him I would.
Craig Hutchinson – CEO, Crocmedia
Known for his on-air work, Hutchy is a CEO by title and therefore qualifies for the list. Ask anyone in his team and they’ll describe him as an idea-generating machine. Someone is so clearly progressed into a solution by the sheer volume and speed in which he operates. His early days as radio producer have never left him and the energy he brings to everything he does is worth it’s weight in gold.
Emma Barbato – Digital Marketing Specialist, Central Coast, SCA
A livewire solution finder, Emma wears her creativity on her sleeve. Brilliant at articulating the problem, diverging her thinking and bringing people along on for the ride. She is the personification of a creative spark.
Greg Jennings – Head of Creative, SEN, Crocmedia
Greg has found a sweet spot. His strong bent for satire and simplicity means he cleverly creates concepts that cut through in a really entertaining way. Greg is underrated as a performer of his own ideas, and as well as voiceover work he should really be hosting a sports show bursting with stuff that makes you think and laugh.
Harriet Power – Head of Promotions Hit Network, SCA
Haz blends experience with original thinking. She will deliver quality over quantity and is someone you can trust to answer any creative challenge. If creativity was an exam, she’d study harder than anyone else and would get the high distinction to prove it.
Irene Hulme – Head of Music Hit Network, SCA
An idea-generating machine, Irene picks up on the smallest vibes and makes them huge. Credited as the brains behind R n’B Fridays, she listens and talks with equal passion. Always wanting something more, she challenges you to come up with better while setting a high bar herself.
Kate Murphy – Director of Commercial Strategy, NOVA Entertainment
Kate’s no BS approach is critical to cutting to the chase while having fun along the way. A true believer in the power of creative solutions, she instinctively gets how an idea moves from conception through the development process. The person you want in the room to help ensure original ideas will actually make sense.
Kirsten Franc – Head of Brand Asset Management, SCA
You could easily mistake Kirsten as being an implementation guru (which she is). But it is her fearless approach to any strategic problem that means she always thinks outside the box to find brilliant solutions. Creative thinkers don’t just appear to the world as the crazy and zany types. Kirsten’s ability to conceptualise solutions in ways that are so obvious in retrospect that make it look easy, does not recognise the intelligence she brings to the creative thinking process.
Lara McLaren – Talent Integration Manager, SCA
One of the great radio all-rounders, Lara’s background as a Show Producer and Promotions Manager means she thinks about the idea from all angles. A head full of ideas, and carrying a scrapbook full of business opportunities, Lara knows about the entertainment value of showbiz and it shows.
Lisa Levesque – Head of Strategic Insights, SCA
Lisa is a creative hidden inside a strategic mind. In another life she would be a fashion designer, artist or club DJ. In this life, she is the person who looks at a problem from all angles and can visualise what everyone who interacts with the eventual solution will think. Her originality and data smarts set her apart from the pack.
Leanne Gibb – Head of Marketing, NOVA Entertainment
Passionate and persuasive, Leanne never gives up. She loves a challenge and will pursue great ideas when others have moved on. Her creativity is best demonstrated by her understanding of non-radio brands and how they behave, allowing her thinking for the medium she loves to be spot on every time.
Luke Parsons – Head of The Studio, SCA
An emotionally-driven deep thinker, Luke brings curiosity and compassion to the creative process. He thinks originally because he looks consistently outside of radio for inspiration. If you want an example of how to create by constantly learning, Luke is it.
Matt Dower – Kennedy/Molloy Audio Producer, SCA
Matt is universally loved for his work in the production studio but his creative teamwork is what sets him apart. A brilliant collaborator, he’s called on by those who are the most creative in the business to bounce off and make something better. He’s the ultimate creative wingman.
Matt Dickson – Head of Creativity, The Studio at SCA
Dicko is one of the best writers around. He can distil thoughts into words that grab attention and can make you laugh at the same time. A real magic pudding when it comes to giving you more and more and more ideas.
Mike Fitzpatrick – Head of Content – Triple M Network, SCA
Fitzy is one of the most dangerous creative brains – willing to take risks, willing to push boundaries, willing to cop criticism. He’ll fight for the right idea and will recognise how to take a concept further than you thought possible.
Ronnie Stanton – Group Program Director Queensland, Grant Broadcasters
Cheeky and larger than life – Ronnie has developed his quick-fire wit on-air, into a rapid idea-generating powerhouse off-air. During the creative process, he keeps you entertained so much that it enhances the enjoyment and thinking of everyone involved.
Sam Cavanagh – Creative Director – Audio on Demand, SCA
His time away from radio will stand him in huge stead as he returns to the mothership. There’s not a lot you can say about Sam that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll add this. He doesn’t give up the fight for the right idea. He’s patient with the process while maintaining the passion required to get it off the ground. It’s ‘team’ first with Sam and he walks the talk.
Sideshow (Mike Andersen) – Head of Production, Triple M Network, SCA
Universally loved, Sidey’s gift is to consistently breathe new oxygen into the lungs of a product. He could be producing Triple M imaging for the next 20 years and it would be as fresh and funny and clever from the day he first got on the tools. A classic case of ‘give him the brief and let him go’, Sidey delivers and delivers and delivers and delivers.
Will Allen – Head of TV Sales, SCA
Totally underused in the creative process, Will thinks as well as he sells. Smart, curious and funny – he’s a powerful combination to use internally to generate ideas or to put in front of a client. Would have been a brilliant Content Director if he chose that path. A great dreamer and believer.
*Note – My Brother-in-law John Curran (Creative Director, Adelaide, Nova Entertainment), and best mate Scott Menz (Assistant Program Director, Triple M Brisbane) are certainties for my list but to avoid favouritism – I’ve left them off and instead sent flowers.
Wade Kingsley is the Founder of The Ideas Business ( www.theideasbusiness.com ). Wade works as a creative consultant for media companies in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada and the USA. He runs ideation workshops and coaches people to help them unlock their natural creative abilities. His white paper ‘Brainstorming is Bullshit’ is available for download from The Ideas Business website.