The Craig Bruce Interview – Part 2


We have the last word from Craig Bruce on his close to 30 years with Southern Cross Austereo. In part 2 Craig talks about how he got into programming in the first place and he talks about how he has championed the new breed of talent.  “Every once in a while you strike gold and from the moment that happens you do everything you can to keep the band together”, said Craig

You were at SAFM when I was Managing Director at Austereo. You were working with James Brayshaw, Marty Sheargold and Amanda Blair from 1995-2003 as anchor.

Marty and I are mates. Trust me, he had a baptism of fire when he started at SA, but he is a true star. I did my best work as a show anchor when I worked with him-he forces you into that wonderfully unaffected groove that is now his trademark and to his great credit makes everyone around him sound better.

James and I are close too. What an incredible record of success he’s had. Virtually everything he’s done has been a ratings success-JB and Billy is number 1 in Melbourne right now. And the thing I love about James is he always acknowledges the good work of those around him, he’s generous both on and off the air.

How do you think the company Austereo/SCA (has) changed from that time, the early 2000’s to now around a decade later.

In so many ways but at its heart it’s still a company filled with people who are passionate about making content.

We also worked together at B105, I was PD you were one of the great daytime announcers. They were great times?

I loved my time at B105. Being surrounded by people who set incredibly high benchmarks around performance and effort was exactly what I needed at the time.

Who would you consider to be the best PD’s you’ve worked with?

As an announcer it was you. As an ACD it was Brian Ford and Phil Dowse. In terms of someone who helped me find myself as a programmer it was Jeff Allis.

Guy DobsonBest CEO you ever worked for?

I didn’t have a lot to do with Michael Anderson, but I know he had a great impact on many. I really enjoyed the year that Guy was in the chair. That role was perfect for him, he’s a brilliant big picture thinker and has a great ability to rally people around a cause.

Best GM you ever worked with?

Linda Wayman. Gutsy, tough but fair, honest and incredibly protective of her people and business unit-which is probably the best in the country right now. I have a great fondness for her.

What announcers and which stations did you grow up listening to?

Grew up listening to SA-FM. My heroes were people like John Vincent, David Day and Bill Weaver. I also have a soft spot for Ken Cunningham-I used to listen to his sport show on 5DN as a kid with my Dad, his personal story is extraordinary,(I’ll leave it for another time) but his success in Adelaide has been without peer.

Why did you get into radio in the first place?

My early motivations were completely wrong. DJs were famous and didn’t seem to work hard. As a 14 year old who was young and impressionable that sounded like a better career than following my father into the ANZ bank.

Why did you decide to get into programming?

I didn’t decide. I was gently pushed, thank God, by Jeff Allis. I remember thinking as a first-time ACD at SA-FM that I was finally doing something that had some level of responsibility attached to it and loved it from the moment I started.

If you didn’t do radio, what else would you/could you have done do you think?

That’s a question that is too scary to even contemplate. I have this tiny slither of expertise that I’ve managed to build a career around, I couldn’t even imagine doing something else.

You championed a few ‘new breed’ talent like Michael Bevergidge, Dan & Maz, Amos Gill, etc what did you look for in new talent ?

There’s lots of things going through my head when I’m talking to new talent for the first time. In the case of Amos and Michael I just really liked their company. They were engaging and funny, they had stories to tell and asked lots of good questions about stuff that had nothing to do with radio.

I always think if I can walk away from a meeting from someone feeling like I’ve connected on some level with them then maybe the audience will do the same.

Who was your best talent find of your career, I hear you and Brian Ford ‘discovered’ Hamish & Andy? How did that come about?

Ha..who discovered H and A! Brian as the CD and Jeff was Group CD, so they get the credit. I was just lucky enough to be at the Fox when they started, I actually paneled their first audition with us. At the time is was Hamish, Andy and Ryan Shelton. I remember walking out of the studio directly to Jeff’s office and said to him, whatever talent war chests we have, let’s put it all on these guys.

Dave Cameron and Sam Cavanagh have had a far greater influence on the boys career than I have, I was just fortunate to be at the right place at a moment in time when something extraordinary first started.

I remember when Tony Martin & Mick Molloy told me they were leaving (Austereo), it’s a rotten feeling and I remember panicking (a lot); how did it feel when H & A pulled the pin in 2010?

It’s tough. How do you replace the irreplaceable? But at the end of the day it’s the only reason we do this. We’re here to find and nurture talent. Every once in a while you strike gold and from the moment that happens you do everything you can to keep the band together.

In the final part of The Craig Bruce Interview. Been There Done That with Brad March, Craig talks openly about the exit of Kyle and Jackie O – “My initial feeling was…shit, what has just happened here.”

Craig answers what he sees as the most important attributes for Content Directors and was the Hit rebrand the right way to go?

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today a former Program Director, Group Program Director & CEO of Austereo and Group Programmer at ARN. He is Director of Marchmedia

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