Radio’s quiet achiever: From Austereo MD to talent manager

• The Brad March effect and how it impacted Australian radio

The women who front three of Sydney’s top rating breakfast shows –Jackie Henderson, Amanda Keller and Wendy Harmer – all have one thing in common impacting their careers. Call it the Brad March effect.

March has had a major influence on the Australian radio industry and his impact continues today. He manages Henderson and has for a number of years now. Better known as Jackie O, she co-hosts the successful Kyle and Jackie O Show on KIIS FM, Sydney’s #1 FM breakfast show.

He is credited with masterminding a five-year deal making Henderson the highest paid female personality in Australia media. The deal put her on parity with her co-star Kyle Sandilands, giving her a significant pay rise. Something in the range of $5m annually according to media reports.

Kyle and Jackie O

Kyle and Jackie O

Henderson is one of the judges on the new show The Masked Singer which premiers Monday 23rd on 10. It was a role March secured for Henderson after many years away from the small screen as she focussed on radio.

Back in the nineties as a radio executive, March hired Wendy Harmer for 2DayFM Breakfast. The 2Day FM breakfast crew subsequently rated #1 in the Sydney market for more than a decade.

Harmer was hosting The Big Gig on the ABC at the time, and March moved her from Melbourne to Sydney and oversaw the show’s development. In the latest radio ratings, the program she currently co-hosts with Robbie Buck ranked #2 in Sydney, behind only Alan Jones.

March also hired Amanda Keller from television (at Andrew Denton’s suggestion). March teamed her up with Denton for the top rating Triple M breakfast show. Keller now co-hosts the #2 FM breakfast show in Sydney with Brendan Jones.

Jonesy and Amanda

Jonesy and Amanda

March has a special affinity with women in the media in an industry long-dominated by male broadcasters.

He hired Jane Kennedy to join Triple M Melbourne breakfast with the D Generation. She is now part of the Kennedy Molloy national drive show on Triple M, co-hosting with Mick Molloy.

March oversaw Robin Bailey’s successful move from ARN to SCA in Brisbane in 2017, her new show with Marto and Nick Cody reaching #1 earlier this year. Bailey announced this week she is stepping down from radio to care for her husband, a former Austereo colleague of March’s, Sean Pickwell.

Jane Kennedy with Mick Molloy

Jane Kennedy with Mick Molloy

March does OK with male talent too – he put together the pioneering national drive show Martin Molloy with Tony Martin and Mick Molloy.

After stepping down as managing director of Austereo, March worked for ARN as a programming consultant.

He then started his own management company, March Media, and has built a small, but talented, client list that also includes Triple J’s Ben and Liam, Nova’s Matt Tilley and Triple M’s The Chaser.

Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer

Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer

March isn’t a fan of publicity. Call him a quiet achiever in a noisy industry. He was prepared to answer some of Mediaweek’s questions, but he prefers the talent to do the talking.

His answers to our questions were short and to the point:

What do you look for in finding strong talent?
They need to be unique and have something (a lot) to say.

What’s the winning secret for talent on radio?
Great talent is great talent, they need to be ambitious and have the drive and desire to succeed and win. And it all gets down to hard work and they need to know how to do radio.

Any big names that you should have signed?
Yes – in the early 2000s Kate Langbroek was on Triple M weekend breakfast, I missed hearing a show, Nova poached her and Hughesy for breakfast and they’ve had a great run ever since.

Is it easier working with male or female talent?
Each person is really different, you can’t pigeon hole them so that’s hard to answer. You need to build trust and develop a strong professional relationship regardless of gender.

Career highlights

The Wendy Harmer days of course, working with Martin Molloy, Ben and Liam make me laugh, and working with Jackie Henderson. She is amazing, a truly great broadcaster in her own right, one of the most focused, hardest working people I’ve ever worked with.

March’s radio colleagues talked glowingly of their friend and former mentor/boss/agent:

Jackie O: “Brad’s knowledge of the radio industry is incomparable – he’s been involved in it for over 30 years now. He genuinely cares for his clients and prioritises their success.”

Wendy Harmer: “Brad was my mentor, inspiration and co-conspirator in those exciting years at 2 Day FM. He understood the creative mind and the possibilities offered by the medium of radio better than anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

Jane Kennedy: “Brad gave me my first break 30 years ago, introducing me to the guys from Working Dog as well as Mick Molloy. His experience, passion and knowledge of radio is unsurpassed. He genuinely loves the business and has a great eye (and ear) for talent spotting.”

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