The Craig Bruce Interview – Part 1
When Craig Bruce resigned as Group CD, it brought to a close almost 30 years with Southern Cross Austereo. Radio Today’s Brad March sat down with Craig to get the last word on his time with the group.
“What’s more important ? How you play the game or winning?”
The Craig Bruce Interview. Been There Done That with Brad March.
Craig – firstly congratulations on an amazing run, nearly 30 years at Southern Cross Austereo.
Thanks Brad, I was pretty lucky to have had such a long association with such a great radio company.
And also on the recent Survey 5 rating results.
ha…wasn’t sure if I could claim those! They were encouraging for the hit network that’s for sure and continue to be strong for MMM.
I’m pretty sure that no one at 2day has ever celebrated a 4 share-there is still lots of work to be done but I’m sure it was a great confidence boost for everyone working so passionately on the product. Irene, Eggo and Jase Allen are a brilliant core product team and I know how hard they’re working to maintain the station’s momentum.
They must have been bittersweet for you?
yep, there was certainly a feeling of personal disappointment that I couldn’t be there for the next phase.
Were you surprised by the swift move (on you) by new CEO Grant Blackley?
I probably hastened the decision, but it certainly happened quickly. Look, I understand that a new CEO needs to bring in a new broom and make changes, and it was really clear from the day he started that my role would be different and that he wanted to work with Guy on the product. I respect that decision. It’s hard to argue with Guy’s credentials. It’s funny, I had been saying for years that eventually either Guy or myself would have to go and it took a new CEO to make that call.
For Craig Bruce what’s more important ? How you play the game or winning?
It’s always about how I play. The ratings would give you a temporary rush of excitement or disappointment depending on the result, but the real enjoyment came from either fixing a problem or helping a team get better.
If you had your time again, what single thing would you change?
I would have got into programming earlier. I was offered the Canberra FM PD role in 1992 which Jeff Allis eventually took and sometimes wonder how much I could have learnt from Greg Smith and Paul Thompson who went on to play such a significant role in shaping Jeff’s career. At the time I was still focused on being a jock and wasn’t smart enough to understand the gift of that opportunity.
What would you consider your single biggest career highlight?
Kyle and Jackie onto 2day breakfast. I started at 2day in the latter stages of 2004, Jeff said to me that I had 8 weeks to work out if Judith Lucy’s show was going to make it and if it wasn’t I needed to replace it.
We agonised for weeks over K and J, but one afternoon I heard a break in drive where Kyle was talking about the video that plays inside his head when he was with his girlfriend, the video in his head obviously didn’t feature the unfortunate female friend he was with at time.
It was one of those ah-hah moments where you could hear the chemistry and the universal appeal of a show which at that time was seen by most people as a nights show.
There was a meeting in my office the day before the survey 8 result in 2004, 3 of us in the room. A massive storm was building over Bondi Junction just for good effect and it came down to me having the deciding vote on the change.
We went with K and J and the rest is history.
You are probably one of the most famous people in Australian radio. SCA being the largest network and you’ve enjoyed a very big profile. Thoughts?
One of my early mentors taught me the importance of “how you occur” to others. I always tried to use whatever influence I had in the role to help others-their success would then be a reflection of my input.
What would you consider your single biggest mistake during your time as Group Content Director?
Being involved in letting K and J leave 2day. No question.
I understand there’s a lot behind the K & J move but I was surprised to see SCA let Matt Tilley go as well, hand balling a super strong talent to ARN/KIIS ?
The plan for Matt was for him to build the next phase of his career on MMM. I am a huge fan of Matt and was devastated to see him leave, but it was never our intention to let him go. He’s one of the very best broadcasters in the country. Unfortunately what we wanted for Matt in terms of the next phase of his career were out of step with what he wanted.
What do you consider is the most important quality for success in radio – for programmers?
An open mind. Nothing destroys the creative process more than a leader who has all the answers. I go into every conversation assuming I could be wrong.
And for on air talent?
Fast twitch thinking. No other media rewards people who can think quickly like radio. Hamish Blake, Mick Molloy, Marty, Kyle…they have the ability to make fast, smart and almost always funny decisions.
Still to come. Craig tells us, who is the best PD and GM he has worked with over the years. Even the best CEO.
How did Craig wind up in radio and who was it that got him into programming?
“I didn’t decide. I was gently pushed, thank God,”
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