Love radio. Love music. A childhood listening to Big L, RNI, Veronica & 208.
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 was answering the phone line (0276-61316) for listeners to London weekend AM pirate radio stations (Radio Concord, Swinging Radio England, Skyport Radio, London Weekend Radio etc) and was soon creating ident 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 a very limited number of current hits and popular oldies, much to the horror of the presenters who until then had chosen most of their own songs. Metro Radio had been losing listeners but suddenly recorded the fastest growing audience of any UK commercial station (according to analyses of JICRAR data published by the IBA regulator). I was made redundant. The majority of UK commercial stations subsequently copied my playlist system and named it ‘Contemporary Hit Radio’.
After stints at Voice of Peace in Israel, community cable station Radio Thamesmead and London’s Capital Radio, I was invited to join London weekend black music pirate station KISS 94 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 projects 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 (now Bauer) to the station, the media group’s first significant radio investment. Once the target audience had been achieved, I was made redundant in order that my boss could claim my success as his own. Several UK stations (notably Galaxy Radio and BBC 1Xtra) subsequently copied the format I had created and poached some of the 50 staff I had hired, 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 which it wanted to transform into profitable businesses. I joined at the start of this venture and spent four years as full-time consultant working 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 the Windows Selector playout system and training staff, Radio City quickly became the country’s biggest commercial radio network. I had been hired initially for six months but stayed 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 expat Head of Radio there had no experience producing radio programmes. I arrived and worked a six-day week for six months training teams at two stations whilst the BBC‘s Head of Radio twiddled his thumbs. My local teams successfully launched Cambodia’s first live phone-in youth show, I returned home but was disappointed not to be offered further BBC work.
• 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 journalist to compile & publish weekly updated listing of London pirate radio stations from monitoring (in City Limits)
• First presenter to play roots 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 John Myers’ 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 1,000,000+ 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 1,000,000+ listeners per week in a market of 40+ stations
• Radio Juventus Hungary: launched to become #1 ranked station in country with 34% adult weekly reach & 1,000,000+ listeners
• Radio City India: launched to become #1 commercial network in country (47,000,000+ listeners per week)
• 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
• 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 4 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
• 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 ‘Smart 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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)
Love radio. Love music.