Grand Jury Confidential: John MacCalman

New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards interviewed Advisory Board and Grand Jury member, John MacCalman, Broadcast Producer/Consultant, Scotland to find out more about the early days at Scotland’s famed Radio Clyde and how this industry legend got his start in the radio industry.

John MacCalman

John MacCalman is one of the original employees at Radio Clyde joining the station in November 1973.  For over three decades, John was at the helm as Production Controller at  Radio Clyde.  Through the 80s and 90s, while John was on board, the station won Sony Station of the year 3 times and was nominated twice. He was the producer on two Sony winning shows for Best Rock and Pop Programme – Hue and Cry (1989) and The Big Day C1 (1991). In 2000, John applied his talents to work on 3C – Continuous Cool Country – SRH’s award winning contribution to the DAB output that provided a 24 country music service that no other UK broadcaster could match. In June of 2006, John was appointed Web Editor for Radio Clyde, increasing unique visitors, page impressions and VIP memberships by ensuring that the Radio Clyde’s website was as dynamic as the station. “If it happened on the air, it would be on the web, said John.”  Since 2001, John has contributed a regular Aviation column called “On the Fly” to the weekly Scottish Travel Agent’s News (STAN) and on a weekly basis to the Campbell Express in Campbell, California.

In the interview below, John shares his insights and observations on all things radio.

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

John MacCalman: Growing up listening to BBC radio and then offshore pirate radio in the 60’s. Learning to listen to your audience and respond.

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

John MacCalman: Listening is far more valuable than talking.

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

John MacCaman: Buy the first drink. Especially when someone is trying to sell you something. It puts them off their stride. Being liked is an asset, not a hindrance if you are a boss.

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

John MacCalman: The ability to communicate and absorb. The people around you may have much more to offer than you may think. Make sure you reward good input as it encourages more.

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

John MacCalman: It was wonderful to be in at the very start of commercial radio in the UK. We had no fear, we also had no past baggage to tie us down. We were inspired by the audience reaction as we became their own radio station. There was a great freedom in the air and on the air. At Radio Clyde, serving Glasgow and the West of Scotland we were a true full service local radio station with an amazing mix of all kinds of music from pop, though rock, traditional Scottish, Country, Folk and even Classical. We broadcast all kinds of live concerts, had our own Drama Department and a very active news and current affairs team.

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

John MacCalman: Joining Radio Clyde in November 1973.

New York Festivals: Will you share how the culture of your company encourages creativity?

John MacCalman: I have to say, I am saddened by the current state of most local commercial radio in the UK where it is now under corporate ownership with minimalist true local content. There are a few exceptions but most seem to be driven by corporate greed rather than a creative culture.

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

John MacCalman: I have so many but probably two are outstanding. “MALLAN IN

Peter Mallan

MANHATTAN “, in which I took Scots singer Peter Mall back to Manhattan where he lived and worked in 1967. We visited 32 locations and recorded some amazing sounds. Great radio.




The other was Tales from Kai Tak, which was 2 years in the making This is a radio documentary about landing at the old Hong Kong Airport with contributions from pilots who flew this challenging approach on the IGS-13 making a sharp right at the checkerboard at 500ft over the Kowloon buildings with just seconds to line up and land on the runway often in treacherous weather conditions.

Over 1000 hours production time went in this project which features three flight deck landings (one in a simulator training for an engine fire on take off. Contributors include captains David West, Dick Duxbury, Chip Crosby, Ralph Requa, Barry Schiff, Manny Puerta, Tom Erikson, Chip Crosby, Randy Sohn, Tim Olson, Jim Hancock, Nick Bristow, and from Hong Kong Airport GM Tony Norman. Produced by John MacCalman and first broadcast on Radio Clyde in 1998 with special thanks to British Airways, Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta), Cathay Pacific and the most excellent team at Hong Kong Air Traffic Control.  This was  a great program to make, as I had several trips on the flight deck (pre-9/11) and traveled thousands of miles to meet these great pilots.

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

John MacCalman: Creative, original, though provoking, revealing, inspirational, imaginative, entertaining, enthralling, keeps you listening… can’t turn off.

Visit 2016’s award winning entries and experience New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs:



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