Grand Jury Confidential: Dallas Gurney

New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards award-winning Grand Jury is made up of over 100 directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on air talent, and programming executives who are recruited to select the World’s Best Radio Programs℠. These global executives are dedicated to their craft and  are actively involved in what is being created in the radio industry today .

Dallas Gurney, General Manager of Group Content Marketing, NZME New Zealand

This week, NYF spent a few minutes with Dallas Gurney, General Manager of Group Content Marketing for NZME New Zealand, owner of the NZ Herald, Grab One and many regional newspapers and nationwide radio stations. Dallas has over two decades of broadcasting and media experience, both programming and leading radio stations. Until 2015 he was the General Manager of Newstalk ZB, New Zealand’s number one radio station and Radio Sport, a nationwide sports talk network.  Dallas has picked up a trophy shelf of awards throughout his career, he’s a winner of fourteen New Zealand Radio Awards and a gold medal at the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards for Newstalk ZB’s coverage of the devastating 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.

Keep reading to find out more about Dallas including leadership lessons, the defining moment in his career, and his all time favorite radio program

New York Festivals: What’s the most important thing you learned from your first job?

Dallas Gurney: My first job was as a 14 year-old working at a large supermarket in my hometown. It was store policy to do announcements on the PA through the day of various specials throughout the store. For some reason, most people used to hate doing it and, to be honest, they were pretty useless at it too. I loved it so they let me do most of them. I realized if I threw some personality into it and cracked a couple of jokes people would comment to me about them. Then I caught on that they moved stock better too because people were actively listening and taking in the message. That learning set me up well for my first radio job – don’t be vanilla because they won’t hear a word you say. That was a great learning and served me well when I started work at the local radio station the following year.

New York Festivals: What were some early leadership lessons for you?

Dallas Gurney: All you have is your own reputation. Protect it fiercely and be honest with people. If you’re not people won’t respect you. Also to be a great broadcaster you have to be an even better listener.

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

Dallas Gurney: In 2011 New Zealand’s second biggest city was devastated by a huge earthquake killing 185 people. I was nine months into a new job running New Zealand’s #1 radio station, a talk radio format. Power was out and radio was all they had. I was in the control room directing the coverage. Never before have I felt a sense of greater purpose, it was literally life-and-death. We did a brilliant job which was recognized both domestically and internationally (we won a New York Festivals gold medal for our coverage), but a byproduct of this was it also helped my confidence. I knew if I could handle this, I could handle anything.

New York Festivals: What’s your favorite radio program that you created?

Dallas Gurney: This isn’t my favorite, but it’s the wackiest. New Zealand is having a referendum at the moment on whether to change our national flag. We recently did a 24-hour “Flagathon” (half live on-air and half on our own iHeartRadio channel) where we talked nothing but flags for 24 hours. We rolled about 60 different guests through. It was mental, but people actually listened and enjoyed it. The longer it went on, the funnier it got – there were some hilarious moments. It was good example of a mad idea, well executed.

For more information on the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards please visit: Stay Tuned, the 2017 Radio Awards competition opens  January 11th.


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