Grand Jury Confidential: Rick Houghton

New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards spends a few minutes each week with one of the Radio Awards Grand Jury members from around the globe. These prominent award-winning executives are actively involved in creating the exceptional programming heard in today’s radio industry and are recruited by NYF to serve on the Grand Jury and select the World’s Best Radio Programs℠.

Rick Houghton, Director, Talkabout Media Ltd., and presenter for Radio City's Home Run.

Rick Houghton is a Grand Jury member and Director of Talkabout Media Ltd. a multimedia company based in Liverpool that produces high quality video and audio for content for corporate clients. Talkabout Media also produces radio programs for Liverpool’s City Talk and Radio City 96.7. Rick is also the presenter of Radio City Liverpool’s “Home Run” airing 3-7pm Weekdays and Sunday mornings.

New York Festivals caught up with Rick and asked him to share his insights on all things radio including his early influences, the defining moment in his radio career, the hallmarks of an award-winning radio program, and much more.

New York Festivals: Who or what were your early influences in your career?

Rick Houghton: I realized I wanted to be in radio at the age of 9 – I had discovered my parents record player and used to practice in my bedroom, talking whilst turning the records over to play the B sides – my parents were a massive influence. I also listened to

Kenny Everett

lots of radio, Kenny Everett was a hero of mine growing up.

New York Festivals: What qualities are the most important to have?

Rick Houghton: A station owner once told me ‘never hire anyone to work in radio, unless you would enjoy hanging out and having beers with them’ – I think that is true! Personality is important on the air, but it’s equally important to be grounded and personable OFF the air. Helpful, kind, honest are all qualities I would look for.

New York Festivals: Tell us a bit about your evolution in the radio industry?

Rick Houghton: I started very young, at age 13 I was in my local BBC station at weekends making tea, then answering phones, then editing interviews. This led to access to the spare studio and I would sit and work on my demo reels. At age 16 I got my first full time radio show – evenings at Plymouth Sound in Devon England. Being on air at 16 was a UK record at the time. I then moved home to work at Radio City in Liverpool, this was a dream, working evenings on the station I grew up with, the show was well received – that was the foundation for a long career!

After spells at some of the UK’s biggest stations I packed my bags for my first management role as a PD at a new English CHR in Dubai – the first of its kind there. I was in the Middle East for 8 years before returning once more to host drive at Radio City. Then a bit of a blip, my personal life wasn’t good and I came off radio, I had been offered a management job and turned it down. I considered leaving the industry all together at one point. I then launched a sport/talk station in Leeds for a former football Chairman, and then hosted a drive show on a station in Stoke and less than a year later – my beloved Radio City came knocking again. I am currently drive host on Radio City 2 – a classic hits format that sits alongside Radio City on FM.

New York Festivals: What was a defining moment in your career?

Rick Houghton: There have been a few, youngest UK jock, launching the first CHR in Dubai and most recently being offered the chance to come home to Radio City in Liverpool and realizing that my real strength still lies behind a mic.

New York Festivals: What are the hallmarks of award-winning radio programs?

Rick Houghton: Engage the listener, relate to the listener on their level, entertain, inform and surprise! Create moments that keep people in the car at the office car park for ten more minutes, do something that gets talked about round the water cooler. Use video, it’s a massive part of how users consume media, use social media – DO NOT be afraid to take chances, be dangerous, confront the issue and make no excuses for the body of work you have created.

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