One of the Good Guys: Richard Barker
This week one of the radio industry’s good guys is heading off after 30 years in Brisbane radio. Richard Barker has been at the GM helm of Triple M and now hit105 in Brisbane since 2003. We caught up with Richard looking back at his 30 years – the highs, the lows – the wins and the challenges of being a General Manager in Australian radio.
Blair: You’ve been part of the Brisbane radio landscape now since the 80’s – this year it’s 30 years in radio… What’s been the biggest change you have seen over the years?
Richard: How our business has evolved as a multi-platform media company, because of the way listeners have changed their consumption habits. Eg Social media. We had to be in the space of what content they want and when they want it. This is more relevant, particularly in the digital landscape. That has influenced the way that stations are now staffed, eg: content directors, digital content leads etc. and certainly the way that we sell.
My career has spanned from Typewriters to computers, from desk phones to mobile, from the encyclopedia to the internet.
You started in Sales at 4BK just as it was about to convert to FM, what was it like when b105 launched in Brisbane?
It had been 10 years since the launch of FM104 when 4BK converted to the FM band. Brisbane listeners and advertisers needed a choice and an alternative on the FM band. It was incredibly exciting gathering the insights on what was missing for listeners and what potentially b105 format would be. The team work, excitement and energy were incredibly strong and remained strong long after the launch of b105.
After all, it was the station that Brisbane built.
The planning and execution of the branding and the marketing and the very talented team were responsible for ensuring that b105 was the most successful FM station launched.
You’ve been GM of Triple M and now hit105 since 2003… bloody good innings!
I am not able to just pick 1.
The launch of b105 and the consistency of the performance. The excitement of being number 1 is still as strong today as it was back in 1990.
The 20 year b105 Christmas appeal that raised over 12 million dollars for sick and injured kids. The impact that b105 had on changing listeners lives. Winning major promotions that we ran.
The re-launch of Triple M in the early 2000’s and taking it to number 1. The Triple M Classic Rugby that raised over $700,000 for the victims on the Christchurch Earthquake.
But to have worked with so many good people and to see so many careers go on to be successful, without them we wouldn’t have been able to achieve anywhere near what we did.
Every business goes through challenges, but we were able to meet them head on with a strong culture which allowed everyone to turn up and do their job.
What are the Biggest Challenges facing a GM these days outside ensuring the brands make budget?
People/Staff/Opportunity are probably the biggest challenges. The GM role has only got busier. There’s so much more content being created now than ever before. There’s more staff than ever before, with many moving pieces, so ensuring everyone has a clear job description, coming to work every day and knowing what has to be done is critical for the GM.
You’ve said your two passions outside the family are Rugby and Radio – Will you miss radio?
Absolutely. I don’t think it ever leaves you. I’ve not met anyone who has left radio and not missed it. I’ll always consume it differently because I’ve worked in it for 30 years, but now I’ll be able to listen to it without the responsibility.
Tell us about your new position as CEO with Queensland Rugby Union.
It’s a large role as it encompasses both the community and professional areas of the code across the state. I’m looking forward to it, it will be a significant challenge but with many opportunities. I have a clear purpose to improve the organization.
Good luck Richard!