Brad March Talks Talent with Paul Jackson (pt 2)


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!

Following 'Brad March Talks Talent with Craig Bruce (of Southern Cross Austereo)', we now turn to DMG Radio Group Programme Director Paul Jackson (right).

You can read Part 1 here.

Today, in Part 2, Paul shares with Brad 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?

Programming Talent

Brad: Paul, let’s turn to your views about Program Directors – what do you look for?

Paul: First of all, they need to be great leaders of their teams in their markets. I think to be a leader now is no longer about position in a hierarchy but more about your passion and vision for the brand. I always enjoy working most with the people who challenge our assumptions, just because a certain idea worked up until now doesn’t mean the same idea will continue to take us forward. I’ve got the best team of Programmers I’ve ever worked with in all the Nova’s right now. They are all relentless in their quest for perfection, always making their product the best it can be. Collectively there’s a terrific team spirit across the network.

Brendan Taylor
Nova 96.9
Mike Cass
Nova 100
Jay Walkerden
Nova 106.9
Dave Shearer
Nova 91.9
Daniel Underhill
Nova 93.7

Brad: What qualities should your Programmers have?

Paul: It starts with imagination. You have to have a clear vision for the output. It’s important to treat everyone in the team well and to see opportunities in the daily issues that crop up to continue to always be taking small incremental steps improving the output. We want people who are relentless in their ambition for themselves, their teams and their stations.

Brad: How important do you see the role of EP (Executive Producer)?

Paul: It's a very important role. They are effectively the PD (Program Director) of their show ensuring the on air content is executed the right way. EP's often grow into excellent PD's as the skill set is similar.

Brad: You are up against a big brains trust and a lot of experienced programmers at Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) – how do you compete with that?

Paul: I have a lot of respect for anybody in programming these days. The competition is fierce, standards are high in every market and instant success is expected. It takes a certain type of person to want to do these jobs and that’s why we love it, isn’t it!!


Brad: Southern Cross Austereo’s “Today Network” and DMG Radio’s “Nova Network” are now closer than they've ever been musically – what impact do you think Southern Cross Austereo’s recent music adjustment will have on Nova?

Paul: At Nova we run our own race and really focus on our listeners’ tastes and not any of the competitive set of stations in any market. I think we do a great job of understanding the musical landscape and anticipating the changing trends musically. We make it our business to know everything about our listeners and deliver for them consistently a distinctive offering. Nova has been positioned as Fresh Hits for three years now. It’s not really relevant to us how anyone else chooses to position themselves against us.

Brad: With CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) formats how important is it playing a record first, given 2 stations in some markets want to own that position?

Paul: We don’t set out to play records first. Our proposition is very clear but we won’t just play anything for the sake of being first. There’s the occasional event song like a new Katy Perry which all stations would receive at the same time and want to play instantly, that aside timing is everything and rushing in isn’t always the best approach.

Brad: Where do you think the music cycle is heading?

Paul: It’s been a great year again for top class songs. I guess Lorde has been one of the standout artists this year which is an indication that people are looking for something a bit different. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive is the type of song I think people want more of. We’re still waiting for something exciting to come from modern rock, it’ll happen eventually, though I’m not sure anything will come along for a while bigger than dance. This generation can’t get enough.     

Contests & Cume

Brad: What are your thoughts on the importance of marketing, cash giveaways vs the actual product (content)?

Paul: They all play their part in making the brand of a station what it is in the listeners mind. These days with so much choice for the consumer it’s vital to stay front of mind and Tony Thomas has done a great job with marketing our brands. In all of our markets we have very strong content across all our shows, backed up with fun, engaging and often talk of the town activity whether it's Red Room tickets, Loose Change or the innovative Bobbleheads In Space that the Brisbane team dreamt up! (left). Equally important now is digital and social media which is integral to everything we do across the company.

Brad: Ratings are of course the key performance indicator for a Program Director. I’ve seen you talk quite a bit about CUME (reach) – and the Nova network does well with reach … what's your view on the importance of TSL (Time Spent Listening)?

Paul: Of-course TSL is very important but I think in a diary system measuring actual time spent listening will throw up vagrancies as we’re asking people to remember what they did every 15 minutes across the week. Cume is a clearer indicator of how well your station is performing as, ‘which stations did I listen to in the last seven days’ is an easier recall for people. We all look at TV ratings to see how many people tuned in to see X Factor or Home and Away last night, not how long they watched it for.

Having said that, I’ve no complaints with the system and it further emphasises how important being front of mind and being talked about as a brand is.

The Future of Nova 100’s Breakfast Show

Brad: Nova Melbourne breakfast announcement was big news – your thoughts? They will be hard to replace? It’s a chance to put in a fresh new team?

Paul: Hughesy and Kate (right) are two of the best broadcasters this country has ever produced. Together the on air chemistry and humour is outstanding so replacing a show of that calibre and heritage will be no mean feat. I think we can only appreciate all they have done over the years, enjoy the next couple of months and move on with something fresh and new for Melbourne next year.

Brad: Melbourne is such a strong breakfast market with FOX, Triple M, GOLD and MIX all having high profile breakfast personalities. Would you agree it’s possibly the most competitive breakfast market in the country?

Paul: I don’t think there are any easy breakfast markets in the country, which is a testament to the quality of the talent in each of the networks. In relative terms each market has fierce competition.

Brad: Meshel, Tim & Marty (left) – they’re arguably the best drive show on radio – what do you see for them in future?

Paul: I’d agree with that. I think they are all very funny, bright and creative in their own right and they will all have big futures in radio.

In Part 3 (here), Paul Jackson shares with Brad March his views on the stellar success of smooth fm, his favourite on-air teams, his greatest programming influence, and … Nova 96.9’s ‘Fitzy & Wippa’ versus 2Day FM’s ‘Kyle & Jackie O’…

Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network and is Managing Director of Marchmedia.


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