about

My career in radio started when I created Radio 4H, writing scripts for my primary school classmates to read and record into the school tape recorder.

By secondary school, I started answering the phone line for listeners to London weekend AM pirate radio stations, and was soon recording ID jingles and presenting programmes for them that mixed pop, soul, reggae and African music.

My first paid job in radio was acting as Head of Music for Newcastle’s Metro Radio where I introduced a then ‘revolutionary’ playlist system that rotated only a limited number of current hits and popular oldies, much to the horror of the presenters who until then had chosen their own songs. Metro Radio had been losing listeners but suddenly recorded the fastest growing audience of any UK commercial station (according to reports written by the IBA regulator). I was made redundant. The majority of UK commercial stations subsequently copied my playlist system.

After stints at Voice of Peace (Israel), community cable station Radio Thamesmead and London’s Capital Radio, I was invited to join London weekend black music pirate station KISS FM which had a huge underground following but was invisible to the wider world. I initiated marketing to mainstream media, campaigned for the government to offer new London radio licences and co-ordinated its second licence application. All three activities proved successful. As Programme Director, I launched the new commercial KISS 100 FM and attracted one million listeners within its first six months, the most successful UK station launch of the 1990s. I had also introduced EMAP/Bauer to the station which became its first significant radio investment. I was made redundant. Several UK stations (notably Galaxy Radio and BBC 1Xtra) subsequently copied the format I had created and poached staff I had trained and mentored.

I was invited to join US public corporation Metromedia International Inc led by America’s then richest man John Kluge. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it acquired newly privatised radio stations in Russia, Hungary, Latvia, Czech Republic and Germany to turn them into profitable businesses. I joined at the start of this venture and spent four years as a full-time consultant in these countries creating and implementing turnaround strategies. The resultant stations were so successful that the corporation President asked me to formally fill the role of Vice President that I had been performing without a title. I travelled to its New York office to sign the contract and there … I was made redundant.

Rupert Murdoch had been awarded several of India’s first commercial FM local radio licences and I was hired as senior consultant to develop a launch strategy for the initial stations. After executing $1m of market research, testing thousands of songs, determining a suitable format and a target audience, setting up Windows Selector and training staff, Radio City quickly became the country’s biggest commercial radio network. I had been hired initially for six months but worked a year in India.

I was in a dead-end job at newly created media regulator Ofcom when the BBC called and asked if I could go to Cambodia immediately for two months. It had signed contracts to train staff in radio production at two stations in Phnom Penh but then discovered that its ex-pat Head of Radio there had no experience making radio programmes. I arrived and worked a six-day week for six months training two teams at two stations whilst the Head of Radio twiddled his thumbs. My teams successfully launched Cambodia’s first live phone-in youth show, I returned home and was disappointed not to be offered further BBC work, apparently because I had had no time to write a report during my 70-hour/week work schedule there. The Head of Radio was subsequently promoted to Head of Project.

My experience: the radio business is rife with ego-driven, power-mad ignorants who thrive by stealing your ideas, taking your credit and denying opportunities to anyone they consider smarter than them. The radio airwaves may be filled with ‘hot air’, but so too are many of the people working in radio. Love radio, love radio people but not many of the people who manage it!

firsts

• Managed launch of first UK commercial radio station to target a youth audience, first UK radio station licensed with a black music / dance music format (KISS FM London)
• Created & implemented first Contemporary Hit Radio music format at a UK local commercial radio station (Metro Radio Newcastle)
• Consultant to launch of first commercial radio network in India (Radio City)
• Launched first national commercial radio station in Hungary (Radio Juventus)
• Analysed & published first UK market-by-market radio station rankings from audience data (in rpm Weekly)
• Authored first book to document the two-decade campaign by pirate radio for a black music station to be licensed in London (‘KISS FM: From Radical Radio To Big Business’)
• Produced first weekly independent music chart show on UK radio (Metro Radio Newcastle)
• Produced first monthly UK music radio programme syndicated to Japanese radio (for Rough Trade Distribution)
• Produced first DJ mix show on licensed UK radio (for Richie Rich on KISS FM London)
First presenter to play reggae & African music on London pirate radio

u.k. commercial radio

• Negotiated 10% ongoing reduction to cost of commercial radio sector’s RAJAR audience research (for RadioCentre)
• Member of team that negotiated 17% ongoing reduction to commercial radio sector’s transmission costs (with Enders Analysis for RadioCentre)
• Researched & wrote report for UK government Digital Britain consultation, leading to legislation that substantially reduced regulation of commercial radio stations
• Advised commercial radio sector on negotiations of music copyright agreements with PRS, PPL & MCPS (for RadioCentre)
• Advised Daily Mail & General Trust on its significant shareholding in largest UK commercial radio group GCap Media plc, which led to its sale to Global Radio Limited (for Enders Analysis)
• Initiated and co-ordinated successful campaign lobbying the government to release FM frequencies for new local commercial radio stations in London (with Heddi Greenwood for KISS FM London)
• Co-ordinated three successful funding applications to UK government Technology Strategy Board for online radio projects (partnerships with Festival Productions, Imagination Technologies, Mixcloud, Reciva, Sharpstream, UK Radioplayer & University of Westminster)

radio station launch/turnaround strategies

KISS FM London: launch achieved 1m listeners per week within six months (one of most successful UK radio station launches)
Radio 7 Moscow: turnaround from last to #3 commercial station with 1m listeners per week in market of 40+ stations
Radio Juventus Hungary: launched to become #1 ranked station in country with 34% adult weekly reach
Radio City India: launched to become #1 commercial network in country
Radio Skonto Latvia: turnaround to #1 Latvian-language station in country
Metro Radio Newcastle: turnaround to become commercial radio station with fastest growing audience in UK

forecasts

• Created UK’s most sophisticated model for forecasting commercial radio sector audiences & revenues
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast that DAB digital switchover would never happen in UK
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast long-term declines in UK commercial radio sector listening & revenues
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast Conservative government expenditure cutbacks would have huge negative impact on UK commercial radio revenues
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast that merger of Capital Radio plc & GWR Group plc into GCap Media plc would prove financially disastrous
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast that Channel Four Television‘s digital radio venture would fail
• Only media analyst to correctly forecast that Virgin Radio held little value & that its re-launch as Absolute Radio would not succeed

author/presenter/speaker

Authored 1,000+ analyst reports, commentaries, articles in the trade & consumer press about radio sector issues
Authored two books about the UK radio sector: ‘KISS FM: From Radical Radio To Big Business’, ‘DAB Digital Radio: Licensed To Fail’
• Invited to make presentations at UK/international conferences: EBU Digital Radio Conference, AER Annual Conference, egta AGM & General Assembly, Music 4.5 ‘Future Radio’ Conference, RadioCentre Members’ Conference, DCMS Digital Radio Stakeholders’ Group Consumer Panel
Interviewed by BBC Radio Four (including ‘Today’, ‘PM’, ‘The Media Show’), BBC Five Live, 40 local BBC stations, Channel 4 News, community radio, national newspapers & trade/consumer magazines
Creator/founder of UK’s longest running monthly black music magazine ‘Free!’ (later renamed ‘Touch’)
Creator/publisher of weekly UK radio industry newsletter (‘Radio News’)
Authored successful KISS FM London incremental local FM radio licence application

regulation

Commissioned to research & author first report on BBC acquisitions of UK independent radio productions (for BBC Trust)
Invited to present written & oral evidence to House of Lords Communications Select Committee on digital radio switchover
Invited to present written & oral evidence to Competition Commission inquiry into local commercial radio ownership
Commissioned to collate & analyse radio sector datasets for first Ofcom Communications Market Report
Evaluated local commercial radio licence applications & recommended licence awards to Members’ Board of The Radio Authority

market research

• Devised & executed 100+ ad hoc market research studies for radio station launch/turnaround strategies in UK, Europe and Asia
• Evaluated & critiqued market research commissioned by local commercial radio licence applicants (for The Radio Authority)
• Consultant to BBC World Service Trust, radio station owners and stakeholders on market research and questionnaire design to understand radio audiences
• Managed auditorium tests/market research of 1000’s of songs in India, Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic & Latvia to compile radio station playlists

copyright

• Researched & authored expert witness statements for the long, complex and groundbreaking PRS case before the Copyright Tribunal considering online music streaming music copyright royalty rates
• Consultant to PRS & RadioCentre concerning music copyright agreements between the UK commercial radio sector & rights owners
• Project managed production of government-funded prototype online one-stop site for radio businesses to obtain multiple music copyright licences

music industry

• Discovered singer Ofra Haza in Israel, promoted her recordings in UK, managed first UK promotion tour, achieved UK Top 20 single
• Worked for Rough Trade Records director Scott Piering, promoting independent record releases to radio, & achieved several UK Top 20 singles
• Created & managed distribution of 100’s of ‘World Music Information Packs’ to listeners of Charlie Gillett’s world music show on Capital Radio London
• Invited to serve as jury member for Juno music awards in Canada

radio production/management training

Trained team of 50+ programming staff from London pirate radio to launch new commercial radio station (for KISS FM London)
Trained teams without prior radio experience in India, Russia, Hungary and Latvia to launch & manage commercial music radio stations (for Star TV and Metromedia International Inc.)
Trained production teams in Cambodia to create, manage and market live phone-in and magazine radio shows (for BBC World Service Trust)