New York Festivals Grand Jury Confidential spends a few minutes each week with one of the Radio Program Awards award-winning Grand Jury members. These brief interviews provides a glimpse into the exciting careers of the global radio executives who are recruited to select the World’s Best Radio Programs.
This week, NYF profiles Andrew Wright, Managing Director of Wright Communicators Ltd, UK. Andrew started his career in the radio and television industry working as a news sound recordist in some of the world’s most dangerous locations. He spent 10 years as a broadcaster and programme producer where he developed his production and media management expertise working with programmers, advertisers, official regulators and talented broadcasters.
Keep reading to find out about Andrew’s early leadership lessons, the defining moment in his career, how his company encourages creativity and much more.
New York Festivals: Who or what were your early influences in your career?
Andrew Wright: I grew up near Liverpool, England and listened to Radio City during the late 70s and 80s. The Late Norman Thomas was my introduction to personality morning
radio and he made areal impression on me. Later Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 1 taught me the value of a dryer humour and intelligent co-presenters. My early influences essentially lay in outstanding morning radio and the production values surrounding it.
New York Festivals: What’s the most important thing you learned from your first job?
Andrew Wright: My first job was in domestic appliance sales, for around 4 months. From that I learned to write more letters and start my media career as quickly as possible. I come from a working class background but grew up around a more middle class environment which I have seen drain the ambition and determination from people. Comfort and ease will do that. Selling washing machines taught me the value of hunger, ambition, drive and self-motivation.
New York Festivals: What were some early leadership lessons for you?
Andrew Wright: I started my own business when I was 26 after 8 years in TV, then radio. I went into business because all but one of my bosses were great examples in how not to lead a team. They were at best woolly in their approach, at worst egotistical, self centred and distant from all but their cronies. The best leaders know their team, work hard to support them, and carefully critique, not marginalize and tear down. Life is about the way you treat other people, good bosses lead to serve.
New York Festivals: What qualities are the most important to have?
Andrew Wright: It depends on what you do. In presentation confidence is important but arrogance is dangerous. Self-awareness and humility balance confidence and allow you to self-critique and improve throughout your career. As you move through your career flexibility is crucial as attitudes, language, technology and cultures evolve, don’t be the last dinosaur standing. Finally a sense of ethics, values and your impact on others. I always wanted to be successful but not by burning bridges and leaving a trail of destruction.
New York Festivals: Tell us a bit about your evolution in the radio industry?
Andrew Wright: Like many young ambitious people entering the industry I wanted to be seen or heard as a presenter. Once I achieved that I spent 10 years trying to get better but realized half way through that period that I was more interested in production and leadership in the media. Production allows one much greater influence on a station’s sound, and on the success of the team around you. Now the profile of presentation doesn’t interest me, but supporting the exciting on air talent I often work with through production and more latterly advice, counsel and career support has become incredibly rewarding.
New York Festivals: What was a defining moment in your career?
Andrew Wright: Taking the terrifying leap into self-employment in my mid 20s. As many people know this can be so terrifying that many can’t jump but thanks to a great friend and mentor, Paul Daniels (a well-known VO and media producer) I was offered exciting writing work at Sky, and my then boss at BFBS pulled out the chair for me as a freelance producer. I have watched many others take similar leaps and know now that defining moments can be the result of a leap of faith helped by supportive friends and mentors.
New York Festivals: Will you share how the culture of your company encourages creativity?
Andrew Wright: This is my simplest answer of all. My team are never allowed to criticize ideas. Every idea is useful, either at the moment of conception or later. Saying no to ideas kills the creative confidence of so many people and it’s an appalling approach to innovation.
New York Festivals: What’s your favorite radio program that you created?
Andrew Wright: I’m going to stick to the past 3 years and choose a documentary I produced, just to tell the story of part of my career. “Radio at the Sharp End” followed the role of front line broadcasters over 3 decades and focused on a network that has been an incredibly important part of my life to date, British Forces Broadcasting, BFBS. I’ve spent a little time covering wars and wanted to avoid the glorification or adoration of the dangers of front line broadcasters. Instead I tried to let people who’d done the job talk about their experiences without sensationalizing them. I loved making the programme, and meeting the people who made it come alive.
Andrew Wright: If only we could write a 3 point plan, everyone would want to follow it. Here are my 3 tips for what it’s worth. 1. Clive Dickens always said to his teams in UK radio, “Listen to a lot of Radio”. It’s such a simple idea and I would add to it that listening to an eclectic range is crucial, from pure speech to edgy specialist music. 2. Your programme must at its heart be about people, not things. Good radio tells stories and for that you need people. 3. If you need technical help, ask. Don’t muddle through. A great story well told will be ruined by even the smallest technical error.
I can’t wait to hear this year’s global entrants and sincerely wish anyone who enters the New York Radio Festivals the best of luck, your radio often inspires and always interests me.
For more information on the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards please visit: www.newyorkfestivals.com/radio/ Stay Tuned, the 2017 Radio Awards competition opens January 11th.