New York Festivals International Radio Awards Open Mic Spotlight Interview offers insights into the brilliant careers of radio content creators from around the globe. NYF’s Grand Jury of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives are actively involved in creating the innovative content heard on radio today.
Grand Jury member Paul Bushnell is Auckland Manager for Radio New Zealand. Paul is an experienced documentary and feature producer with many years’ experience in judging international radio award competitions. Under Paul’s leadership, Radio New Zealand has earned numerous accolades including 2 New York Festivals Gold Trophies in 2017, one for “Kim Hill” and a second for “Public Enemy” as well as Silver Trophies for both”Otello ” and “Mediawatch” and a Bronze for “Kaikoura Earthquake.”
New York Festivals: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
Paul Bushnell: All technology-driven: the change to digital recording and editing (a huge change from the days of tape), the rise of platforms means that Radio New Zealand content is now accessible via dozens of ways, and on many other digital sites. We’ve taken an approach that as a non-commercial broadcaster it’s in our interest to reach audiences through partnerships with many other organisations, and the result has been a considerable increase in exposure and audience size.
New York Festivals: Where do you see the industry moving in the next 5 years?
Paul Bushnell: Most significantly, into the world of smart speakers. Radio New Zealand has diversified its output into video and online content creation, but now has a future in which our most traditional output – audio – has a natural home.
New York Festivals: What is your favorite program that you created and why?
Paul Bushnell: Radio New Zealand (not me individually) devised a richly informative insight into the exercise of power, interviewing the last six Prime Ministers of New Zealand about their time in the executive wing of Parliament. Entitled The 9th Floor, it got some extraordinarily revealing insights from its interviewees, including an admission from the PM who was the sponsor of market reform of the economy in the 1990s that economic neoliberalism has failed. It was as if George W Bush had repudiated his decision to go to war with Iraq. Or as if Margaret Thatcher had declared that her market reforms had gone too far and were damaging the society they sought to liberate. And this series was created by a very small team, as full tv and radio production with a strong online presence. A book based on the series of interviews was published too. A proud moment for Radio New Zealand.
New York Festivals: Whose work do you admire the most?
Paul Bushnell: A brilliant UK drama producer John Dryden (who has devised a number of vivid location-based dramas for the BBC) is now working for Panoply, creating in podcast form drama which has the same the qualities as his former work, but put together in a way which hooks audiences and keeps them listening. It’s like a radio version of Netflix – creating long-form story arcs running through multiple episodes. Enthralling.
New York Festivals: How has podcasting changed the way you create content and are you creating more of this on-demand content?
Paul Bushnell: Yes, undoubtedly. It’s not just a matter of slapping up traditional radio documentaries and calling them podcasts. We use documentary-making skill to craft content which suits the intimacy (and potential for binge consumption) of this form of distribution which provides an essentially individual experience.