Why did you accept this position?
I think sales is the noblest profession on earth !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTit is principled and intended to make a difference for the better. I believe I can make a positive contribution to the business.
What best prepared you for your new position?
I am the product of the many people I have encountered in my career, who have had a profound effect on my life experience !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTboth positive and negative. Leadership is about being inspirational, and to be principled is the greatest source of inspiration I know of. Performance is a given !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTcaring about how you get there, makes you exceptional. Understanding that axiom of business philosophy prepared me better than any other activity; way beyond my formal education or some of the “luck” you inevitably experience in your career.
How are you planning to take RadMark forward?
It starts with a people-centric approach, which means an emphasis/focus on our staff. That may seem obvious, but in my experience there’s a gap in corporate South Africa between the idea of people centricity and its implementation.
In my opinion, RadMark is really very good at what it does and yet I’m not altogether convinced we believe that as a certainty; and if we do, then I’m not sure we know why we do it so well.
I will spend a great deal of time developing a strategy that focuses on our ability to manage change and on human talent management. People really are our greatest asset, but I think we can do a great deal more to convince them of that.
!_LT_STRONGOn the subject of media consumption, you said: “My parents consumed 20 hours of media per week. The Net generation consumes 20 hours per day !_LT_/STRONG!_LT_FONT color=#000000!_LT_STRONGÃ¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/STRONG!_LT_/FONT!_LT_STRONGin seven hours.” What are the implications for radio?!_LT_/STRONG
To understand where we are going, we need to be clear about where we are now and the role that regional radio plays in a society, where (more than 90 percent) of all South Africans listened to radio in the past seven days.
First, radio provides companionship in a world where loneliness is on the increase. Is this not ironic considering the social networking phenomenon? Second, radio facilitates a conversation.
Human beings are social creatures and conversation is the currency of social interaction. And third, radio provides a regular reminder of days gone by, as we associate music with memories of past experiences. Human life revolves very much around the past !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTthat is where our experience comes from.
On to the present: The purpose of radio will not change. Its role within society will become more important, not less so.
The manner in which media consumption, facilitated by technology, is changing is the issue !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTchanging as it is at such an unprecedented rate. The shift is demand-driven and the typical consumer will want content when and where they want it, on a device of their choosing. These changes will introduce us to the open media company of the future.
It will release archival content (radio has so much content that it doesn’t know what to do with it!) to a variety of different audiences; it will deepen the media experience through a social network that far preceded the likes of Facebook or LinkedIn; it will package content that allows for the monetisation of that content.
It’s a fair point that this will play havoc with traditional media economies; and it will allow for collaboration that supersedes traditional concerns about proprietary interests.
How will these changes affect RadMark’s activities?
Changes will include a shift from “postcampaign” analysis to “in-campaign” analysis – something we are already experiencing, as well as the consolidation of other exciting and innovative ideas like: Echocast (a technology used to migrate broadcast content to the online environment), Demo Station (a Jacaranda 94.2 initiative that allows for local musicians to promote their music online) and podcasting.
This will bring together radio and new media in a seamless manner, consolidating radio’s position as the definitive, social networking platform of the future. What will be different though will be the delivery mechanism which will, in all likelihood, be a handheld device.
Over a period of time that will affect how we sell radio as we will have to adapt to a market that expects more than the traditional 30-second commercial or interstitial, replacing it with a variety of other Ã¢Â€Â˜stitials’. These stitials will encourage a sense of community, experience and convenience in a way that is non-invasive. The manner in which it will be kept non-invasive is through creativity.
The rate of this change is not going to be comparable to either Europe or North America and I think we need to be careful of the hype around most futurist predictions. Humankind has never been particularly good at predicting the future and I am always a little cautious when someone thinks (he/she) can.
RadMark’s sales targets
“We expected double digit year-on-year growth in Q1 of our 2008-’09 financial year and that is what we have experienced from June to August 2008. We are, however, not immune to the exceptional set of circumstances in the world’s financial markets; nor are our customers. We expect Q2 to be a particular challenge. But just as the market contracts, so too will there be new opportunities !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTthe trick is to be ready for them before they become obvious to everyone else.”
Radio of the future
“I don’t think radio’s look or format will be as important as the relationship it develops with its audience. It will look like everything we already know and nothing we have seen before. A handheld device, laptop, desktop, TV !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTit will be available on each of them and may have a visual component to complement the audio experience.”
“Radio has strengths that no other media can imitate. Those strengths will remain !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTlike its position as a parallel medium as well as its compatibility with the internet !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTirrespective of the mutation radio goes through… Media confluence adds a new dimension as we start to bundle new media with its traditional counterpart. There is considerable trial and error in this process and the key is flexibility.
“The reality, though, is that expectations must be managed !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTthe internet in South Africa is way too immature right now and mCommerce is not able to show a profit. For this reason, they are secondary considerations and will remain so, until critical mass is achieved. And we are way off that point !_LT_FONT color=#000000Ã¢Â€Â“ !_LT_/FONTfor now.”
“The format will increasingly include a user-generated component, but I’m not convinced that this will result in anything more than an overload of the mediocre. Media owners will adapt to mitigate the overload in quantity within the value chain by filtering it, editing it and re-presenting it in a way that adds value to the media consumer.”
RadMark’s brands are Gagasi 99.5fm, Heart 104.9 FM, Kaya FM 95.9, Jacaranda 94.2 and East Coast Radio.
This Q&A first appeared in The Media magazine (November 2008).