Brad March Talks Talent with Paul Jackson (pt 1)
If you’re looking to kick your career into hyper drive – whether you’re on-air talent, off-air talent, or programming talent – these articles are for you!
As Group Program Director for Austereo Brad March established the Today Network as Number 1 FM station in every market and re-launched the Triple M Network taking it to the Number 2 FM position nationally.
During his stellar career Brad has ‘discovered’, developed and mentored more great talent than virtually anyone in Australian media – the Sydney Morning Herald wrote of Brad: "March developed the radio potential of such comic talent as Andrew Denton, Amanda Keller, Peter Moon, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy … Jamie Dunn and, of course, Wendy Harmer".
And, of course, Brad has done the same for countless off-air and programming talent – many of whom are now in senior positions and following in Brad’s footsteps.
Following 'Brad March Talks Talent with Craig Bruce (of Southern Cross Austereo)', we now turn to DMG Radio Group Programme Director Paul Jackson (right). Here Brad and Paul discuss everything from ‘discovering’ hot new on-air talent, to the rising stars at DMG, to hairier questions like “can Nova 96.9’s Fitzy & Wippa beat 2Day FM’s Kyle & Jackie O” – and “Who will replace Nova 100’s Hughesy & Kate”?
Brad: Thanks for taking the time to talk to Radio Today, Paul. November is your 3rd anniversary in the role of Group Programme Director at dmg Radio. So, happy anniversary and congratulations. The Nova brands are performing well, and are within striking distance of the market leaders. And smooth fm has been a great success so far.
Paul: Thanks Brad. I’m delighted with the evolution of Nova in the last couple of years. It’s a great achievement for all the Nova teams to be Number 1 under 40 in each market and the Number 1 Network nationally. It’s easy to forget that smoothfm is little more than 16 months old. It’s been an outstanding report card so far!!
Brad: Before we get into it, let’s start with a little about you – what’s your background in UK radio, for those that don't know?
Paul: I’ve worked in almost every role possible and done all the crazy hours that we all do for love, just to get a foothold. I moved around the UK a lot working in local, regional and then national radio at Virgin. I moved here from my Group role at Global running the Capital and Xfm networks.
Brad: Tell us more about your time at the legendary Virgin radio.
Paul: There’s something very special and iconic about 1 Golden Square. It was a fantastic place to work. I loved it, the team spirit, creativity and challenger brand mentality was unrivalled. Virgin always took the old adage of ‘work hard, play hard’ to the extreme, mind you with the likes of Suggs and Tony Hadley around anything could happen! Coldplay changing lyrics of songs to our presenter names in front of 150,000 people sticks in the mind as one of the more surreal days at the V Festival.
Brad: How would you compare the standard of Australian radio versus UK radio?
Paul: It’s very similar. There are many top class shows here that could thrive in any market. Both countries are very fortunate to have very vibrant radio markets which is reflected in the huge cumes in both countries. Quite a few Aussies have done very well over the years in the UK.
Brad: Do you think coming from the UK and having little or no market knowledge was a help or hindrance at first?
Paul: I think one of the key reasons I was given this opportunity was because I would bring a fresh perspective and different thinking, or so they hoped! Reflecting now, I can’t say it held me back although there was plenty to learn quickly. I think it was probably tougher for the people here trying to understand my Scottish accent!
Brad: What are your favourite radio brands and talent in UK?
Paul: I’m a huge fan of how Global Radio have rolled out Capital and Heart across the UK. It’s been a massive success and sounds terrific. Talent-wise, Christian O’Connell (right) is a unique and very talented guy who I was lucky enough to hire for Virgin. I’ve always been a fan of Geoff Lloyd who I worked closely with at Virgin. Again, like Christian he’s creating distinctive, funny, original radio daily. Hirsty at Capital Yorkshire also does a great show.
Brad: Is there much developing, training and coaching at dmg Radio for on and off air talent?
Paul: Of-course, we have very experienced Programme Directors in every market who work daily with our on air teams to constantly refine and evolve our output. Likewise, off air we constantly strive to enable our people to reach their full potential. We prefer our coaching to be one to one and to focus on the individual’s performance. We also have live mid-dawns across the Nova network which provides invaluable opportunities for aspiring broadcasters to gain experience and be coached regularly by our PD’s. For things like our new Zetta playout system, which is currently being installed across the group, we do full and comprehensive training for everyone.
Brad: What do you look for in new on air talent?
Paul: There’s a combination of things. It’s important to be yourself, be real, let your enthusiasm and passion shine through. We’d rather find a rough diamond with raw potential than someone who’s trying too hard. The coaching and developing can come later, but we’ll always give a chance to someone who is genuinely creative and different.
Brad: What's the best piece of advice you've given Talent?
Paul: Goodness, you’d have to ask the broadcasters that. I always want the talent to enjoy themselves, be well planned and really give it their best shot. Ignore the critics and remember why you got into the business in the first place. You owe it to yourself to give it your best effort every day.
Brad: Who are the rising stars on air at dmg Radio?
Paul: We have a lot of rising stars on smoothfm. Simon Diaz (left) is an experienced broadcaster but has totally reinvented himself in the past year. Byron Webb and Ty Frost have been outstanding, as has Cameron Daddo in the evenings.
Tommy Little (right) is a star in the making on Nova 100 weekends and as a relatively new combination, Lewis and Lowe (Nova 919) have been magnificent this year.
Brad: What is your view on hiring reality TV stars, are you keeping an eye on the shows as they share similar casting principles to radio?
Paul: I’m not against hiring from anywhere. Reality shows have given chances to people who may otherwise have taken longer to be discovered. Fitzy, for instance has such talent that he would have found his way to breakfast radio in time, but Big Brother accelerated his rise. Ultimately, quality talent always rises to the top.
Brad: Would you agree that what talent do 'off the air' is nearly as important as what they do 'on the air?
Paul: Absolutely. Our presenters are creating great content, engaging and interacting with the audience not only on air now but all day everyday through online and social communities and in the case of our talent through video as well. All aspects of social media and digital are perfect for radio brands like smoothfm and Nova as it’s just another part of our listener’s daily lives to engage with us, wherever they are and whenever they want. There is no separation between on air broadcasting and digital, it’s all integral and all part of our DNA.
Brad: What advice would you give new talent who are thinking about getting into radio?
Paul: It’s a fantastic industry, so work out exactly what role you want to play. Be brave, believe in yourself, be persistent. Opportunities don’t just arrive at your door, you have to be prepared to put the hours in, to absorb and learn every facet of the business and get in people’s faces, showing them how passionate you are. Surround yourself with mentors from radio and other walks of life who can give you good advice and guidance.
In Part 2 (here), Paul Jackson shares with Brad March his views on programming talent, Executive Producers, music, ‘cume vs TSL’ – and Brad asks about the elephants in the room – what are Paul’s plans for when Nova 100’s Hughesy & Kate leave at the end of the year – and what are Paul’s thoughts on Meshel, Tim & Marty?
Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network and is Managing Director of Marchmedia.