Brad March Talks Talent with Paul Jackson (pt 3)


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 and Part 2 here.

Today, in Part 3, Paul shares with Brad 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’…

On Winning


Brad: Let’s turn to the intensely and fiercely competitive nature of the radio business – is it important, or a part of dmg's business strategy, for Nova to win and become market leader?

Paul: Definitely. Nova is now the Number 1 radio network across Australia and all our stations are number 1 under 40. We're in this business to be the best, to innovate and to lead.

Brad: Do you think Nova 96.9’s Fitzy & Wippa can beat 2Day FM’s Kyle & Jackie O?

Paul: Why not? Kyle Sandilands is a heavy weight broadcaster but Fitzy and Wippa are upping their game all the time. The next couple of years will be very close. I believe we've got the winning team for the long term.

smooth fm

Brad: With the two smooth fm stations, do you see a time when you will develop breakfast shows – given your main competitor, Mix, has talent driven breakfast shows?

Paul: As I see it, we have developed breakfast shows. Our audience has a different expectation from say a Mix audience. Our presenters compliment the More Music approach we have and create a relaxing environment. We are doing something distinctive with smooth and catering for an audience that previously had no fixed station of preference.

Brad: Are you happy with the music mix now on smooth fm?

Paul: I’ve been delighted with the blend of music on smooth right from the start. We regularly change the songs around to keep it fresh and reflect the seasons but would never change our promise of easy and relaxing music. We always look for unique songs to play like Rumer or Jaimie Lee, a new artist we are supporting, alongside classics like Tenterfield Sadler or Slippin’ Away – Max Merritt that wouldn’t have been played in years. I think for most people we're never more than a couple of songs away from an all-time favourite.

On Programming Success

Brad: You hold one of the biggest media roles in the country. Why do you think you've been so successful, so far?

Paul: I don't really ever stop to think about it. I tend to be in the moment, there's nothing we can do about what's gone before, except learn from our mistakes and be really well planned for the future. That, and I think I’ve always been good at identifying talent and putting strong teams together on and off air. You're only as good as the people you surround yourself with.

Brad: Radio programming is a combination of science, strategy and creativity. Research versus gut instinct. What are your thoughts?

Paul: All the best programmers l've ever known had gut instinct in abundance. I tend to feel that once you have developed a clear plan for your station that research can be your guide as to whether you are on the right path or not, but it won't tell you what to play or who to hire in the first place. The great programmers are so clear on what success sounds like but the execution part can be like steering a ship through storms on the high seas. Many brands end up way off course as a result of poor execution of a strategy.

Brad: What do you think radio has to do to remain relevant in the future, especially with younger demographics?

Paul: We have to be a part of the listener’s life making connections with them 24 hours a day taking radio into their environment. You may wake up with Fitzy and Wippa in Sydney (and have a laugh!), hear the parody song, go online to see the video, share it with your friends, follow them on twitter or indeed follow Nova on social media and be aware instantly of new songs, gossip, live music events from Future to Stereosonic to money can't buy Red Rooms and so on. The advent of social media is a huge advantage for radio brands and allows us to have a deeper, more connected relationship with the listener than ever before.

Brad: You have children, Paul – can I ask how old they are?

Paul: Sure, three kids, 15, 13 and 10

Brad: Do they listen to radio?

Paul: They do listen to radio all the time. The other night Tommy leapt across the sofa running out the room, I thought something had happened but it was just that Smallzy had tweeted he was about to play the new Jason Derulo song! I notice how kids now really buy into certain presenters and hold them in the same esteem as pop stars. Again, this is the upside of the digital age we live in and the presenters who can grasp this and are genuinely passionate about music and culture right now have a great advantage. In our house Smallzy (left) and Ben Wood (right) are stars!

On the Sales / Programming Relationship

Brad: What are your views on the importance of the relationship between sales and programming – do you work closely with the dmg Radio sales team?

Paul: It's vitally important. In programming and digital all our teams work closely with our Sales and Create teams. It's a key part of the role to understand the client’s needs and to work closely together to creatively deliver something that works for everyone.

Digital Radio

Brad: dmg Radio has NovaNation (the Dance station), and Koffee (the chillout music format) – do you see part of the role of digital radio being to develop separate brands, or to use strategically as Southern Cross Austereo have done, with the launch of Triple M in Perth?

Paul: It can be both. We rolled out smoothfm on digital in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth to give us a national footprint, but also have separate brands still in Koffee and Nova Nation.

Drive & Achievement

Brad: Paul, you're very driven, motivated and competitive. What drives you?

Paul: I guess it's just who I am. I'm in this industry for my love of music. I also love the strategic business side of what we do. You know, life is short, there's no point sitting on the sidelines criticising, you may as well get on the pitch and have a go. Do stuff, take a chance, create things. Why not make it the best it can be?

Brad: What would you say is your proudest achievement in Australia?

Paul: I think it would have to be smoothfm. I had a vision for the station which Cathy O'Connor and Tony Thomas shared. So far it's been a wonderful journey. I'm just grateful that so many listeners love the station so much.

Paul’s Awards for Best Promotion, TV Campaign, On-Air Team, and Best Programmer

Brad: Best Promotion ever?

Paul: Two Strangers and a Wedding. The only thing I ever took from 2Day! We did it at BRMB in Birmingham in 1999. We ended up filming the whole promotion and had all the major TV channels bidding to buy the show. In the end it ran to over 10 million viewers as a two hour special on itv and had 3 front page News of the World splashes. This was before reality TV had even taken off – it was huge.

Brad: Best TV Campaign ever?

Paul: Well growing up in Scotland, it would have to be Barrs Irn Bru ads, oh you mean radio, well, BBC Radio 2 made an amazing ad starring Elvis Presley in 2008, worth checking out.

Brad: Best on air team?

Paul: That's a tough one. I couldn't really separate any of our on air teams, so I'd say maybe Chris Evans on Radio 2 who has great banter with his team, mind you Chris Moyles and Chris Tarrant were pretty special as well.

Brad: Best Programmer?

Paul: My father of course (Richard Park – left). He won the Gold Award at the Sony's this year and is unrivalled in his Programming ability and success.

Brad: What do you do to switch off and relax?

Paul: My partner and kids would tell you that I don't switch off ever, but whilst the radio plays in the background I love to read a lot, often business or biography books. I also watch every Liverpool game regardless of whether it’s played at 3am or not!


Radio Today would like to thank Paul Jackson for his time and generousity in talking talent with Brad.

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


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