How Canberra PD Geoff Fisher beat himself – but not by much.

Canberra FM’s group PD Geoff Fisher last month led his two stations to the number one and number two positions in the Canberra market, within 0.2 share points of one another.

FM 104.7 scored 20.5% and Mix 106.3 got 20.3%.

How did he achieve such a good result?

That’s what we wanted to know… so we asked him.

This is what he told radioinfo.

“Well, I don’t think I’ve got any ‘golden philosophy’. But here’s some things that are important to the way I work:

Set long term goals for the brands – I think it’s important to know where there stations are going, and to share the goals with the team.

Part of my aim has been to give each station a definite personality. I’ve really just tried to keep building that personality through everything we do on each station.

Invest in your people – I think it’s important to find and grow the right people – part of our philosophy as a company is to promote ‘staff involvement and growth’. I want people who’ll take ownership of what they’re doing on air, and what we’re doing as a team. I was lucky enough to get that trust (ie. from people like Steve Mummery when he was my PD), so I try to return that to my on air talent. They’ve generally got much better ideas than me anyway….. my job it just to help get the best out of them.

Finally, I think consistency of product is really important.

radioinfo: What is your assessment of the Canberra market ?

Canberra’s an interesting market in which to work. The reality of politics and the nature of the workforce here does influence listening patterns and ratings somewhat. But on another level people here have the same concerns and hassles as people in any other market.

MiX 106.3 has been in a real growth phase for the past 12 months, and has had very consistent product and personnel during that time. Meantime FM104.7 has been in a change cycle, both musically and in breakfast. That rebuilding process is coming along really well. Our two stations dominate 18-54’s, but there’s some areas of growth that I still want to achieve.

666ABC has a strong breakfast team, and they too have been very consistent. JJJ did well in the last survey.

2CC and 2CA have both had quite a few changes over the past year or so. From a ratings perspective I’d love to see 2CC take a few points off 666ABC, especially in breakfast!

radioinfo: Tell me about your career.

I got into radio after a highly unspectacular career in chartered accountancy! My first job was at 2PK Parkes in 1989 (it seems a lot of people had their first job at that station).

After 9 months I went to 3TR in Gippsland where I did copy and various shifts for nearly 3 years. Then I moved to 4MK Mackay for my first gig as a PD (I was a terrible PD at that stage, had no idea really).

After about 12 months I went back to Victoria to co-ordinate the networking operations for the ACE Network out of Horsham. I did that for 3 years before coming to Canberra as a jock on 2CA. After about 9 months I moved across to MiX 106.3 to do drive, then got the job as PD of MiX 106.3, then about 18 months later I became PD of both stations here. I’ve been doing that since January 2000.

The best training I got was working in a few stations where I had the opportunity to do practically everything in the station. There’s a lot to be said about working in smaller country markets. I understand the roles and challenges faced by jocks, journo’s, producers, music directors, and copywriters because I’ve done them all at some stage.

radioinfo: What’s the best career advice you have received?

There’s not really one stand-out bit of advice I’ve received, rather loads of great advice from some very good teachers throughout my radio career. I’m a bit of a sponge so I just look for things that make sense to me (from whoever and wherever they come) and try to apply them to my situation.

I also read things from people who’ve been successful in various walks of life and find things from their success that can work for me. I believe good lessons come from all kinds of people…..I just try to keep my ears and eyes open to find those lessons!

radioinfo: What’s the best advice you’ve had on how to program a successful radio station?

Successful is an interesting concept as the measure of success is hard to quantify. I certainly don’t intend sitting back thinking that we’ve got 2 successful radio stations. There will always be things I want to achieve and new areas to grow the product.

Again, I’ve had loads of great advice from various people. Steve Mummery, Paul Amos, Dave Charles, Guy Dobson and Simon Mumford (to name a few) have given me lots of guidance.

There’s a couple of quotes that have stuck with me though. They are:

“If you’re going to be good, you’ll tread on some toes along the way” – Geoff Handbury, owner of ACE Radio (he said this to me just after the local newspaper had launched legal action against us over some comments I made on air).

“Just talk to me” – Arch McKirdy, a radio legend and true gentleman. I had the good fortune to meet Arch when attending AFTRS in 1989, and was reminded of his philosophy of great radio at the recent AFTRS reunion. It’s what radio should be all about – just talking with your listener.