Brian Bickmore leaves Austereo after 24 years

Brian Bickmore has resigned from the Board of Austereo and from his position as Managing Director of Corporate Development & International Media. He will leave on January 15 after 24 years with the company.

“I’m looking for more balanced approach to life,” Bickmore told radioinfo.

Bickmore was a founding executive of the original Austereo company and the longest serving director.

“The past twenty four years have been an incredible and rewarding adventure. But there is a time when, after such a long association, you desire new challenges,” says Bickmore.

Austereo Chairman Peter Harvie called Bickmore’s contribution “significant” and said his unique skills “played a major part in the development of the Group, both in Australia and overseas.”

radioinfo: So, you’re going after 24 years.

Bickmore: Yea. Long time isn’t it!

radioinfo: How did you come to make your decision to leave after so long?

Bickmore: After 24 years there is a point where you know its time to do something else. I was 27 when we started the business. It has been an incredible journey, but I wanted to do something different and if I didn’t make this decision now I never would. It’s the right time.

radioinfo: What will you do next?

Bickmore: Take some time out and work it out from there.

radioinfo: Will your next thing be Radio again?

Bickmore: I’m not looking to repeat the last 24 years from a zero start. You can’t repeat something like that. I’m looking for more balanced approach to life, a different way of doing things, not the same environment I have just been in.

radioinfo: With a $1.9 million payout I guess you can afford to do that.

Bickmore: [laughs] I guess so, but don’t forget how much of that will go in tax.

radioinfo: Has the timing of this move had anything to do with the changes to the business lately?

Bickmore: I took time overseas and that’s when I really focused on this decision. The recent changes have not had much effect. After so many years, you’re always thinking ‘will I keep going or not.’ This time is perfect, if I hadn’t made this decision now I probably never would do it.

radioinfo: What’s the future for Austereo?

Bickmore: With me going they will cut their costs significantly! [laughs]

My reading of it is that they are taking a combination of approaches to handle the immediate future:

Reinvestment in Triple M and supporting Today.

Getting the cost base down (I’ll help that).

Using a number of financial issues to move forward.

Changing breakfast in various stations to deliver a lower cost base next year, which will position Austereo well for new competition.

One strategy alone could not get there, but all working together can rebuild the success of the business in the new environment.

radioinfo: Do you have any regrets or negative memories of your 24 years in the company?

Bickmore: No negative memories at all.

radioinfo: What do you remember as the most exciting and significant decisions you made in those early days of starting Austereo?

Bickmore: There’s no doubting that in the beginning it was about getting enough cash to get through the first year. Advertising was close to zero – that was exciting and worrying!

Another important decision we made was the conversion of 4BK to B105. It was probably the one single decision in those early days that solved a number of problems and created the future. 4BK was losing a couple of million, but after we converted to FM, within 12 months B105 was making $7-8 million. It underpinned our future after a tough period of growth.

Brian Bickmore’s termination package of $1.9 million, paid in accordance with the terms of his contract of employment, included 12 months salary and the balance of his executive retirement benefit, together with the payout of his statutory annual leave and long service entitlements. Due to provisioning in prior years, the payment of the termination package will only have an immaterial impact on budget of approximately $400,000 and will not have any effect on the forecast current year results of the Company.