Smallzy on 40 consecutive wins: “No survey day is ever just a formality”

Former Assistant Editor

“Everyday is just as much effort as when we weren’t number #1,” says NOVA Entertainment’s Kent ‘Smallzy’ Small on officially achieving 40 consecutive surveys as the National #1 Nights show.

“I’m as hungry to be #1 tomorrow as I was when I wasn’t ever #1.”

A run that started in Survey #6 2013, Smallzy’s Surgery has become a legacy show and a vital cog in the Nova Network’s content and branding strategies.

For the past year or more, reaching the mark of 40 has felt somewhat inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that Kent and EP Zach La Cava weren’t feeling nerves ahead of the release of this morning’s radio ratings.

“No survey day is ever just a formality,” Small tells Radio Today, exclusively. “I’ve never viewed it like that, it is a report card on what we do and we work in a very competitive environment so every survey day is just as important as the survey day before.

“I don’t think any host or broadcaster would say ‘I don’t care for ratings.’ They let us know how we’re doing, I think everyone has a bit of nerves the night before. It’s locked away now and you’re thinking ‘fuck, what’s it going to be like?’

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, given the break-neck speed at which he’s constantly jetting around the world; Small hasn’t yet spent a lot of time reflecting on the achievement, that’s been gained over a period of five years.

“It does feel like a long time ago. But then, it also feels only like yesterday which is kind of crazy in itself,” he says.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about what it means to have the hard work vindicated, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to even pause and go ‘how does it feel, what does it feel like?’ No one day is the same in what we do for a job, everything is moving at 100 miles an hour.

“I feel like it’s always trying to be better than you were yesterday, and then when you get that survey result you feel great, and we’re on the right track, growing and moving in the right direction. It’s a bit of a relief that you’re still in touch and still creating stuff that people are engaged with and consuming and enjoying.”

Smallzy may be the main man behind Smallzy’s Surgery, but when reflecting on 40 consecutive #1 surveys, he’s quick to shift focus on his team, especially his gun executive producer La Cava.

“I can’t do this on my own, and he [Zach] is as the EP of the show has my full trust, support and confidence; 100%.

“We are a dynamic team in that he thinks differently to the way I think and we’ve worked together for such a period of time now that we back each other and we also respectfully let each other take a direction if we believe in something. We both know the show so well.

The support network goes beyond just Zach too.

Chatting with Radio Today about Nova’s fantastic results today, NOVA Entertainment group program operations director Brendan Taylor spoke of the importance of giving Small the necessary backing and support for his show to keep succeeding.

“I am blessed to work in an incredibly supportive environment, led by PJ [Paul Jackson], Peter Clay, Brendan [Taylor], Ben Lattimer. I am so grateful that I can work in an environment where I’m trusted,” reflects Small.

“I’ve got the runs on the board to prove that I’m in touch with the audience and understand what they want, and with that comes the freedom for us to pursue opportunities overseas.

“I could not put more weight behind how important it is to be given that freedom, and with that freedom is encompassed support because there’d be nothing worse for me than working in an environment where I’m 100% micromanaged.”

Chatting with Radio Today about Nova’s fantastic results today, NOVA Entertainment group program operations director Brendan Taylor spoke of the importance of giving Small the necessary backing and support for his show to keep succeeding.

“He gets all the support,” says Taylor, something that’s vital for the show to keep its globetrotting nature, because “it’s in the DNA of the show to be present at events around the world.”

Few would argue that one of Smallzy’s biggest strengths is his ability to remain dynamic and innovative. It’s something that Small admits remains his “biggest challenge.”

“If you were to ask me what the single-handedly hardest thing to do, the number one challenge I face is to ask ‘what are we going to do now that we weren’t doing before’ to keep us as relevant and in-touch, relevant and market-leading as we have before,” he says.

“I can sit and observe from afar and sometimes when people get that #1 they take their foot off the gas, have a bit of a rest. That’s when the opportunity is for an opponent to strike, and I never want to have that moment.

NOVA Entertainment group program director Paul Jackson also touted an exciting future for Smallzy at Nova. “We’re proud to have him at the NOVA network,” he said. “After 5 years, we know Smallzy still has his best years in front of him”.

While Small does see a future outside of Nights, he’s under no illusions as to just how good he’s got things at the moment.

“100% I have a desire and a career progression, and an interested in where my career goes next. I am excited to see where that goes, but on the flip side of that, I have such a wonderful job and opportunity now.

“Things I get to do now that I wouldn’t be able to do if I was doing another shift. If I was doing Drive or Breakfast, in those competitive timeslots you wouldn’t have the ability to travel to the other side of the world.

“It would be a content-driven slog every day. I so much enjoy the fringe benefits of what this show is, that I’m just grateful that I get to do it. I’m grateful that people love listening to it.”

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28 Aug 2018 - 5:12 pm

Congrats Smallzy.

Absolutely doesn’t get the credit he deserves from most people in the industry. Even if you don’t rate what he does you have to admit he absolutely knows his audience – and 40 wins is a row is no fluke.

Noah Juan
28 Aug 2018 - 8:48 pm

Thanks for that insight


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