Alison Rusted, Director, Alfi Media, UK
New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards Grand Jury Confidential series profiles NYF’s award-winning Grand Jury members, these world-renowned producers, directors and hosts are recruited from all facets of the radio industry to select the World’s Best Radio Programs℠. This week, we’re up close and personal with 2016 Grand Jury member, Alison Rusted.
Alison Rusted is Director for Alfi Media, UNITED KINGDOM. Alfi Media produces award-winning programs for BBC radio stations 2, 4 and 5live in the UK. Before launching Alfi in 2007, Ali enjoyed a 20 year career as producer and editor at the BBC. During that time, she launched national digital stations Radio 4 Extra and 5 Live Sports Extra, led 5 Live’s celebrated coverage of England’s Rugby World Cup victory in Australia and worked on major sports and news events including general elections, royal weddings and funerals.
In the interview below, Ms. Rusted shares her insights and lessons gleaned from her 20 year radio career, her evolution in the radio industry, as well as her views on what makes an award-winning radio program.
New York Festivals: Who or what were your early influences in your career?
Alison Rusted: An editor who encouraged me when I lacked a little bit of confidence, but who also set high standards and let me know when I didn’t reach them! Praise from him was not easily earned and meant all the more when I received it.
New York Festivals: What were some early leadership lessons for you?
Alison Rusted: Get to know your people as individuals and don’t treat them all the same. One size does not fit all! As a leader you need to build trust and a creative environment in which people feel free to try out new ideas. You might be busy, but taking the time to listen and discuss ideas with them is vital and reaps rewards in the end.
New York Festivals: What qualities are the most important to have?
Alison Rusted: As a leader – the ability to listen – sometimes to what is not being said as much as to what is. And when you make decisions – to follow through on them. Do what you say you’re going to do.
New York Festivals: Tell us a bit about your evolution in the radio industry?
Allison Rusted: I started my media career in a stereotypical way for a young woman in the UK in the 1980s – as a secretary. Thereafter I moved up the career ladder – researcher, producer, senior producer, assistant editor and editor. All very linear! I moved quickly – with hindsight too quickly – through the producer to editor ranks. The BBC launched a new national radio station and suddenly for a brief period of time there were lots of opportunities to progress. I spent 10 years as an editor before leaving to set up Alfi Media.
New York Festivals: What was a defining moment in your career?
Alison Rusted: There wasn’t one big one – no Eureka moment – but something that gradually dawned on me over a couple of years was that I got as much pleasure from enabling others to develop and succeed in their careers as I did for my own successes. I think this understanding influenced and defined my leadership style.
On a more personal level, it was taking a broadcast team to Australia to cover the Rugby World Cup and overseeing all aspects of it. It was hugely satisfying and gave me a great deal of confidence.
New York Festivals: Will you share how the culture of your company encourages creativity?
Alison Rusted: No idea is silly! We encourage our producers to look for “the road less traveled” in their treatment of ideas and spend time with them, discussing how they are going to bring their ideas to life.
New York Festivals: What are the hallmarks of award-winning radio programs?
Alison Rusted: For me it’s great storytelling that makes an emotional impact, but keeps an intellectual rigor.
For more information about the 2016 New York Festivals Radio Program Awards please visit: Here.