Fru Hazlitt – New GCap Chief Executive

GCap are in the midst of announcing that the new Chief Executive of GCap is to be Fru Hazlitt (ex CE of Virgin Radio and Yahoo UK). It’s going to be quite a change in style for GCap which loses Ralph Bernard as it’s number one. It will also no doubt kick off a management re-shuffle at the company, as the other two CE candidates – Steve Orchard and Wendy Pallot – try to work out what position (if any) they can retain in the organisation. They’ll also be the happy knock-on to other management as they try and work out whether their strategies are likely to be supported by the new boss.

Top on Fru’s agenda has to be ‘sorting out’ digital. GCap’s had virtually no digital strategy over the past 12 months as it tries to work out what it will do with the capacity it owns. The one thing it has been good at is moaning that it’s all too expensive. In reality, of course, the income from the multiplexes that it owns virtually covers the carriage costs of all its services meaning that the only costs it incurs are actually the programming ones. Which, means of course that there isn’t actually a DAB problem per se, it’s a making money from new types of radio problem.

This is actually a much bigger problem for a group like GCap. Existing incomes will naturally decline as FM reaches maturity, what they need to do is work hard to generate new revenue from new products. So far, they’ve been pushing online and the websites hard, which is starting to generate new revenue, but from a massive increase in costs. In good news, the GMG contract will bring new money and even more scale to the group which will help the bottom line.

I think the challenge for Fru will be to ensure that this (and other) cash can consistently flow into the new product areas whilst battling the City who are after this money to be channeled to shareholders.

In the short term this will probably mean more cost control in the existing business and the development team going hell for leather to sell more capacity across its multiplex networks. They’re already taking off Chill’s and other stations where they know they can get a paying customer on, i’d expect this to continue at pace over the next few months.

Disclosure: I often bid against GCap for contracts and work with them on some projects!

Facebook Launches Friend Lists

Facebook today have launched a feature where you can group together friends into separate lists. Potentially I think this is a great innovation and allows me to have greater control of my growing collection of friends.

So the first thing I did was create ‘2nd Division’ – they’re people who are ‘friends’ in that i’ve met them, and they meet my ‘happy to have a beer criterior’ however I don’t know them that well so their links/status updates are a bit of pollution in my newsfeed. Unfortunately I can’t do anything with this list other than specifically receive information from them! There’s no way to add these to a block or change specific settings for them – which is a shame.

I also created a list for Insanity Alumni, people who were involved with my student radio station, as I wanted to message them about an upcoming reunion. Unfortunately the ‘you can only message 20 people at a time’ rule stills exist, so the 45 on the Insanity list invalidates me from sending out a note to them!

Therefore i’ve yet to find a use for the list feature yet!

8 Random Facts About Me

I just knew that when Dan Taylor got tagged it was bound to come and get me too. And i’ve never even met him. Well, thanks to James i’ve got to do the following:

1: Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
3: At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4: Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, here goes.

1. I’ve presented over a thousand hours on kids radio station, Fun Radio. Indeed, you can still catch me on the weekends, if you’re unlucky.

2. I was crowned Bournemouth’s young headline writer of the year sometime in the early 90s. I had to come up with a headline for a story about a Farmer called Bill who had started an Ostrich farm that has become quite successful. What was my headline? Bill’s Becoming Ost-Rich. Did you see what I did there?

3. I think I got my first proper job in radio because someone needed a new housemate.

4. A family friend’s young daughter used to call me mushroom because she couldn’t say Matthew (my at-home name).

5. I used to be a (part-time) reality TV pundit and had RI:SE interview me live from my house (with a sat truck in the car-park).

6. I’m a big believer in “what goes around comes around”, which means I try to be nice (but mainly for selfish reasons)

7. In the few days before Christmas I work in my Mum’s shop taking money and wrapping people’s presents.

8. I subscribe to 215 blogs and merely pass their ideas off as my own.

Now I get to tag other people who have to do the same thing. I choose:
David Madelin off of the BBC
Helen off of Ox Fm
Jo Step-henson off of staying at home ‘writing’
Ian Stokes off of making Leanne’s dinner
Leanne Stokes off of being a scientist
Paul Earwaker off of being in the Congo
Paul Smith off of writing cheeky things in The Guardian
Nicky Tate off of being my newest work colleague.

Bauer Buys EMAP Radio (and some magazines too)

No, not Jack Bauer, he couldn’t buy anything as he’s in jail. H Bauer, the German media bods have bought Emap’s radio and magazine arm as well as their shareholding in the Emap-C4 joint-venture Box TV (that runs all the music TV channels). The radio side was valued at £422m.

The deal’s bad news for lots of people who hoped they’d be the winner. As well as a load of VC money with various people like Tim Schoonmaker and Phil Riley fronting it, Global Radio (the operators of Heart, Galaxy and LBC) are going to be a bit miffed about their loss. Global was created as an organisation that would drive consolidation and extract value from new scale. Instead they’re now at risk of being sidelined and they’re going to have to do a deal or they’ll probably be flogged off to someone like GMG. New pants time at Bramley Road.

We’re also going to have to find out what H Bauer’s view is on things – from digital radio to localness, their involvement is a wild card for the radio industry. Or have they just acquired these assets to sell them on to someone else. We’ll have to wait and see.