Revealed: Australian radio’s Top 20 content directors in 2020
The role of the content director is one of the most pivotal to the day-to-day operations of any radio station or network, while also being one of the most demanding.
Content directors are responsible for the sound of a radio station, taking care of the music, key shows, announcers, imaging, social, the execution of promotions and network shows. They deliver great content across Breakfast, workdays, Drive and Nights across Australia.
Radio Today is again recognising excellence in content and programming on commercial radio, with this latest list including not only station content chiefs but also the top network programmers.
There are seven brand new entries in this year’s Top 20, while it should come as no surprise that most entries come from the two biggest markets.
This year, 11 of the Top 20 are Sydney-based while another seven call Melbourne home.
There nine entries from Southern Cross Austereo, six from Australian Radio Network and three from NOVA Entertainment. Grant Broadcasters and Nine Radio are also represented.
There have been plenty of executive role changes at key networks in recent months, and with radio operating through one of its toughest challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, we’re predicting those most likely to successfully steer their network and stations through to the other side.
The list reflects the overall influence of stations, talent management and direction, music influence, experience, market size, competitive landscape and the scale of the position.
Here are the Top FM content directors in Australia for 2020:
1. Duncan Campbell
Australian Radio Network’s national content director Duncan Campbell has overseen ARN as it became the #1 network. Campbell’s storied history in the industry saw him launch the first FM radio station on the central coast, before stints with Austereo at B105 and Triple M Melbourne as program director. Campbell oversaw the launch of KIIS 1065 in Sydney, poaching the Kyle and Jackie O Breakfast show from SCA. More recently he gave 96FM in Perth a content reboot and facelift that has seen the station become competitive again after years in the wilderness. He also gambled on Christian O’Connell, bringing the UK star to Melbourne, paying off after 18 months when the show went #1 FM.
2. Paul Jackson
Paul Jackson is of the most influential people in radio, having served as the group program director at NOVA Entertainment since 2010, with his title recently changing to chief programming and marketing officer. He has also held such roles as chief executive and program director of Virgin Radio, and program director at Global Radio. Paul was responsible for the highly successful launch of smoothfm and oversees the direction of the Nova and smooth networks day-to-day.
3. Dave Cameron
Southern Cross Austereo’s new chief content officer Dave Cameron has been with the network for more than 25 years. He is responsible for the strategic leadership content across its 78 FM radio stations, 10 DAB+ stations, digital and on-demand content, and is also a member of SCA’s executive team. Previously the GM for SCA Melbourne, Cameron spent 11 years as a programmer in that city and six as a music director in Sydney. He is often credited for the launch of Hamish & Andy, one of the most successful Drive shows in Australian history.
4. Mike Fitzpatrick
Triple M’s head of content Mike Fitzpatrick leads the content teams for the Triple M Network across Australia’s metro markets. He is responsible for talent recruitment, development and coaching, music and listener research, as well as overseeing the overall sound of the network. He’s previously served as content director for Triple M at Southern Cross Austereo and got his start as a presenter and music director at B-Rock FM in Bathurst.
5. Dan Bradley
Dan Bradley moved to Melbourne to become the content director at SCA after years of service at the hugely sucessful Gold Coast station 102.9 Hot Tomato. Bradley got his start at 7HO in Tassie, and had roles as music director at SCA’s FM104.7, Fox FM, and Triple M, before being snapped up by DMG Radio as their regional group PD. He was the founding programmer for Nova 100 Melbourne, taking the station to #1 within just 12 weeks. He is also the director and founder of Kaizen Media, record label Laneway Music, Active Instore and Purple Wax.
6. Derek Bargwanna
Derek Bargwanna started his radio career at NXFM as a panel operator and now serves as the head of content for both KIIS Sydney and Melbourne. He’s been instrumental in the day-to-day of legacy Breakfast show Kyle and Jackie O, from the early days at Southern Cross Austereo, coming across to ARN with the duo for 2014. Prior to his move to KIIS, Bargwanna had spent over 15 years at SCA, having moved to 2DayFM from a content director role at Perth 92.9.
7. Ben Latimer
Ben Latimer was appointed to the role of head of programming at NOVA Entertainment in late 2019, having previously served the program director for smoothfm and Nova’s Sydney & Adelaide stations. He now oversees Nova’s Melbourne, Perth & Adelaide stations and recently launched Ben & Liam’s new Breakfast show at Nova 91.9 Adelaide. His previous roles have included executive producer of WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda, and programmer roles at Mix 106.5, Mix 102.3 and 5DN.
8. Gemma Fordham
Southern Cross Austereo’s current head of content for the Hit Network Gemma Fordham rose to her first programming role in 2014 at New Zealand’s premier integrated media company NZME. She originally began her career at SCA as a receptionist, but quickly rose to the position of executive producer. Fordham then jetted overseas firstly to London at Heart FM and then spent some time away from radio in Los Angeles. Upon returning to Australia in 2010 she returned to SCA to EP 2DayFM Breakfast.
9. Rex Morris
Rex Morris is another on this list to have moved into a bigger market recently, joining Triple M Sydney as content director after taking Triple M Brisbane to the #1 position in radio ratings. Morris began his career at SCA almost three decades ago in 1990, and was first promoted to a content director role in 1996. He’s held roles including Triple M head of music operations, and was appointed Triple M Brisbane CD in March of 2018.
10. Matthew Eggleston
Hit Network national operations manager and head of content for NSW, Mathew ‘Eggo’ Eggleston oversees operations and content across the state. He took on the role after three and half years as content director at Hit105 Brisbane, during which time the station often topped Brisbane radio ratings. He has previously served as the Hit Network’s national music director, and in MD/announcer roles at Fox FM, SAFM and NXFM.
11. Peter Clay
Peter Clay is NOVA Entertainment’s head of programming, and also heads up the network’s talent development & acquisition for both Nova and smoothfm. He’s also spent time as a producer for shows including Nova’s Fresh 40, Richard Wilkins, Melissa Doyle, Weekends, David Campbell and Michael Buble. He has worked in producer roles at both ARN and SCA as well.
12. Dan Underhill
Daniel Underhill is the content director at ARN’s 96FM in Perth, having overseen the content at the station as it has returned to former glory as a ratings threat in the city. He joined ARN in 2019 after spending almost 17 years with NOVA Entertainment. He started as a creative writer at Nova 93.7 in 2002, before serving as creative director, and raking up almost eight years as program director at the station as it dominated the radio ratings.
13. Barry Drinkwater
Barry Drinkwater is a Brisbane institution, has served as the content director for ARN’s 97.3 FM and 4KQ for almost two decades, helping both stations to plenty of ratings wins in that time. He first started at 4KQ in 1993, where he spent eight years at the Drive announcer before rising to the role of assistant program director and music director.
14. Greg Byrnes
Greg Byrnes joined the newly branded Nine Radio as head of content when it ceased to be Macquarie Media in 2019. Since joining Nine, he’s been at the helm of the biggest talent shakeup in years at the network. Joining after serving as an executive producer at Sky News, Byrnes previously spent 17 years at 2UE holding positions including news director and program director. He got his start in radio at Cooma’s 2XL.
15. Mike Byrne
Mike Byrne jumped ship from Southern Cross Austereo to Australian Radio Network in 2020 when he was appointed as the content director for Sydney’s WSFM. He previously worked with ARN as program director at Mix106.5 in Sydney and Gold FM in Melbourne, also holding roles as program director for Grant Broadcasters. He most recently served as the group content director for SCA Newcastle’s KOFM and NXFM.
16. Amanda Lee
After spending three and a half years as content director at Hit92.9 in Perth, Amanda Lee was appointed as CD at the high-rating Fox FM in Melbourne. It was a return to the station, where Lee previously served as assistant CD and acting CD, as well as holding roles including music director and operations manager. Her start in radio came at SCA’s SUN FM in Shepparton. She’s also worked as a producer and announcer at 2DayFM and in music roles at NOVA Entertainment.
17. Matthew O’Reilly
Matthew O’Reilly was the EP of Triple M Sydney’s Grill Team for over four years, before being poached by Triple M Adelaide to become the station’s content director. His previous roles have included EP of the Hot Breakfast show and AFL shows at Triple M Adelaide.
18. Ryan Rathbone
Ryan Rathbone returned to Australia at the end of 2019 after spending five years in New Zealand to take up the role of regional content director for Grant Broadcasters in Queensland and the Northern Territory. He has also served as the assistant content director at SCA’s 2DayFM Sydney, content director at ARN’s Mix 106.5, as well as program director at DMG Radio’s Nova 106.9. He was recently appointed group content director for Grant Broadcasters.
19. Sue Carter
Sue Carter currently serves as the content director of Gold104.3 in Melbourne, home of the top-rating Christian O’Connell Breakfast show. She has worked at ARN for almost five years, having also worked in programming at Mix 102.3. Prior to that she was EP of Triple M Sydney’s Grill Team, and has also worked for JackFM, GCap Media, Q102 Dublin, and GWR Group in the UK.
= 20. Tony Aldridge
Tony Aldridge joined ARN in 2018, overseeing Cruise 1323 and Mix 102.3 for 18 successful months before moving to Melbourne in mid-2019 to serve as content director for KIIS 101.1. He got his start in radio in the UK, serving in production and programming roles at Essex Radio Group and Global Radio. In Australia, he has worked as assistant program director for Nova Sydney and content director at i98 for WIN.
= 20. Erica McGee
Erica McGee has served as the content director of Southern Cross Austereo’s high-rating Mix 94.5 for almost seven years, helping the station to several #1 survey results in that time. She previously worked as a journalist, assistant CD and EO at SCA Perth, as well as having stints at Canberra FM, i98 and Triple M Sydney.