Dr Mumbo

‘Never let a murderer into your radio station’ and other unusual lessons

You may have read a few articles with some of the key takeouts from Friday’s National Radio Conference. Dr Mumbo thought it would also be useful to collate some of the more unusual lessons shared by the who’s who of the radio industry in Melbourne.

Never invite a murder into your radio station

In the appropriately named ‘The things we’ve learned’ session Nova Melbourne’s Tanya Simpson told an unusual tale of an interaction with notorious gangster Mark ‘Chopper’ Read.


It happened on Hughesy and Kate’s breakfast show, and involved the Big Red Door – a competition where a mystery item is hidden behind an actual door in the studio and if a caller guesses what it is they win $10,000.

Simpson told the audience: “Hughesy and Kate were obsessed with Chopper Read for some reason. Weirdly whenever he did a promo for us he demanded to be paid in cash in a paper bag.

“Their producer went off to make him a cup of tea. She came back in to find him standing in front of the Big Red Door with her keys, going ‘Yes, do I get 10 grand, I know what’s behind the Big Red Door’. And he’s holding the item, so he’s broken into the Big Red Door, and clearly now knew what the mystery item was, and everyone was standing there going ‘What?’.

“I’m not fighting Chopper Read, like I said he kills people. Resilience is really big, but so’s not losing your shit. So we went to a commercial break and played some songs. For me in that moment it was ‘how do we get through this?’.

“So we’re standing there and we’ve got Chopper Read who thinks he’s done the funniest thing ever, but we’ve got terms and conditions, and listeners who are about to play this to win cash, so we had a quick session, told the general manger, got onto the phone with the legal team, checked the terms and conditions, went to air got Chopper Read in, had a chat about what happened, played it out on the air and had a lot of fun.

“And of course he wanted the publicity. We turned it into this really positive spin, did a really funny promo and put a great campaign together.”

“My learning is have the right people around you so when things do go wrong you have the people there to support you. But also don’t invite murders into your radio station.”

A horse won’t pass a donkey

Did you know a horse won’t run past a donkey? Neither did Dr Mumbo.

It was just one of the many pearls of wisdom shared by Hamish & Andy during their on stage interview.

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, Hamish and Andy, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, Hamish and Andy, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016

It wasn’t quite as random as it sounds, as the pair talked about their ‘Race that slowed down the nation’ last November, a riff on the Melbourne Cup’s ‘Race that stops the nation’ strapline.

the initial idea was to get four horses with varying abilities to run around a hired race track. But then they started finding out some of the biggest logistical problems they would come up against.

“If a donkey gets in front a horse won’t pass a donkey. I don’t know what it is,” admitted Andy Lee.

“Maybe it’s an honour thing, or they’re superstitious,” chimed in Blake.

“So they’d start from the back of the race and pass all the others then get to the front and just bow to the donkey and say ‘for your forefathers sir’.

“It’s kind of random but it’s an example of the logistical stuff that goes on behind the scenes.”

He added: “We’re clearly clinging to this idea that’s not even funny with these four different abilitied horses, but people wanted in asking to do it in a horse suit, and then it flashed in front of us that maybe this is a lot funnier if it’s a race for people in a horse suit.

“So we explained on air what we’re doing and floated the idea of it, and it took off from there.”

Turn your phone off

Ring, ring ring: Pat Baron

Ring, ring ring: Pat Baron

There’s nothing more annoying than a mobile going off loudly in the middle of your presentation. That was the lesson learned by McCann’s chief creative officer Pat Baron in his session.

Unfortunately it turned out it was his own phone which was going off: “That’s my phone, of all the people.”

Getting Merrick and Jules Lund to serve the coffee doesn’t help a sales pitch

The panel of media buyers shared some stories of media company pitches they had which had been good, and less good.

Jules Lund and Merrick Watts: not coffee waiters

Jules Lund and Merrick Watts: not coffee waiters

Starcom Sydney’s investment director Rebecca Ho shared the story of a brainstorm session at Southern Cross Austereo, owners of Triple M and the Hit Network.

“It could be as easy as just bringing in a good breakfast – ARN did that when they wanted to promote their summer breakfast,” she told the room.

‘But it has to relate to what you’re trying to sell. I remember being in an SCA presentation where they brought in Merrick (Watts) and Jules Lund, and it didn’t relate to what they were trying to sell, but when we got back t the office and thought about the proposal it didn’t really make sense, and I didn’t understand why they bought in the talent, there was no use for the talent to be there.

“It was fun, the talent was there and they got me a coffee, but there was nothing else besides that.”

Media buyers are typically 27-year-old men…

Marketing academic Mark Ritson has been making a splash of late in the industry with his bravura performances calling out some of the bullshit in media metrics, especially around digital.

But some of Ritson’s own claims made at the Radio Conference were put to the test themselves.

Like this assertion: “Here’s the problem: your average media planner is 27 years old, he’s male, predominately he lives in Sydney, occasionally in Melbourne, he’s never read a newspaper, he doesn’t listen to the radio, he does have a TV but he claims he doesn’t. He is already living the dream of the future. They don’t have a sensitivity to these other media.”

That description certainly riled the panel of media buyers put together for the conference, who were all female.

The media buyer's panel (l-r): Mumbrella editor Alex Hayes (moderator), Carat's Peita Pacey, Maxus' Zoe May and Starcom's Rebecca Ho

The media buyer’s panel (l-r): Mumbrella editor Alex Hayes (moderator), Carat’s Peita Pacey, Maxus’ Zoe May and Starcom’s Rebecca Ho

As did the media consumption claim, with Maxus’ May telling the audience she doesn’t base her media recommendations on her own habits “or it would be all outdoor and radio”.

A session titled around Game of Thrones will throw up an epic tale of treachery

Mediaweek editor James Manning led a session ‘How to win at the (corporate) Game of Thrones’.

Unfortunately it seemed Manning isn’t a big fan of the HBO epic, missing a couple of references to it from panelists, including Janine Allis, founder of Boost Juice, who quipped “when you want to get rid of competitors you invite them to a wedding” which seemed to go over his head.

Janine Allis, Founder & Owner, Boost Juice, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016

Janine Allis, Founder & Owner, Boost Juice, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016

However Allis also spilled the beans on a tale of skullduggery worth of Westeros, involving her husband, and former group program director at Austereo, Jeff Allis.

“One story I probably shouldn’t tell – when two programmers, it was Austereo against Triple M and it was how do we get the ratings?” she started.

“Triple M were launching their big program that was going to achieve big ratings and the two programmers, my husband and another guy, went in dressed up as executives, saw what they were doing, went back that night, did it and launched it before them. That’s what it took!

“Little did they know, six weeks later Triple M bought Austereo.”

Fortunately for Manning Anthony Everand, the head of Big Bash League, was a fellow non-GOT fan: “I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones in my life, I’m very good at The Bachelor though – Alex, Nikki, Olena.”


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