Monday, May 18, 2020

RECORD DAYS PT1 NEW ZEALAND 1957-1973

LINK TO YOUTUBE VIDEO
MY RECORD DAYS PT 1-PHILIPS-PHONOGRAM NEW ZEALAND 1957-1973
https://youtu.be/R8NQhO6UfSI


Sunday, May 17, 2020

THE LOSS RUGBY LEAGUE LEGEND ARTHUR SUMMONS UNLOCKS PAST MEMORIES and THE PATH OF THE WINFIELD CUP TO NEW ZEALAND TV


THE LOSS RUGBY LEAGUE LEGEND ARTHUR SUMMONS UNLOCKS PAST MEMORIES and THE PATH OF THE WINFIELD CUP TO NEW ZEALAND TV

Rugby League legend Arthur Summons has died aged 84. Summons is
of the two players on League’s iconic Australian Trophy, THE WINFIELD CUP.



Playing League as a schoolboy I represented Wellington through the grades and first made the Senior side in 1959, aged just 19. In 1961, my last year playing League as it turned out, I was honoured to play for Wellington against the mighty Australian Kangaroos, which included Summons as their halfback.


It was a terrible day for us as the Aussies with stars like Reg Gasnier ran around us and through us at will and we lost by an embarrassing score. I tried hard all throughout the game, but was totally out of my depth with the speed and class of these guys. I did crash tackle Gasnier at one time, but only because he slowed on hearing the refs whistle, which I did not.





That evening we had a party with the Australian’s at their hotel, The Midland, and I got the chance to socially mingle with my heroes, including Gasnier and Summons. An evening I shall never forget which brings back better memories than of our hiding to these guys earlier in the day. One of the Aussies even gave me his Queensland jersey.

Anyway, later in life in 1992 and still a fan of the game and now Programme Director at TVNZ,  I was getting the weekly AUSTRALIAN WINFIELD CUP games sent to me on VHS tape by my Sydney based friend Stuart Rubin. I thought to myself why don’t we show this marvellous competition here?

I can’t be the only one to love this game.

So, I phoned Graeme Lowe, who was then coaching Manly, the club I followed. Graeme agreed to help me get the NZ TV rights for Australian Rugby League and was instrumental in assisting me close a contract.

                   John McCready and Graeme Lowe
So, Aussie League hit our screens, it was popular and eventually THE WARRIORS were formed and joined the WINFIELD CUP.

Whilst pleasing to see my passion for Rugby League now shared by thousands of my fellow New Zealanders I’ve never forgotten the path to that. Playing the game as a schoolboy in Wellington, playing against the great Australians, including Arthur Summons and the help from Graeme Lowe in getting our shared passion to a bigger audience.

R.I.P. Arthur Summons. A great man of Rugby League.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Thoughts and Ramblings on Entering Old Age


At 80 years I guess I'm in the process of moving from middle aged to old aged. I'm finding it interesting and even a little challenging, but overall satisfying.

One up-side is having mostly appointment free days and the freedom to choose what to do each day. This coupled with not having to be somewhere early morning results in many a sleep in and a late breakfast before cruising on to do whatever we choose. In my case usually a visit to the nearby Les Mills gym.

Having no job and plenty of free time also has allowed us to travel regularly and enjoy our favourite places, London, Barcelona and Australia’s Sunshine Coast. 

Ageing’s downside is one's ever declining physical ability with increasing aching joints, loss of hearing and fading eyesight. 

Not having a salary and little income brings a new worry; are we going to outlive our capital? How long can we live this wonderful lifestyle?

As I've aged, my taste in TV, movies, music, reading and the need for a variety of smart clothes and catering for the demands of others have changed or even disappeared.

When I met my wife JT, on the pretext of a romantic long weekend, I invited her to join me in Sydney. My real agenda was actually to attend a Rugby League clash on all three days of the break, such was my passion for Rugby League and sport of almost any kind. Today I couldn't give a toss and rarely watch League or Rugby unless it is a Warriors game or a League or Rugby test match. JT has taken over the family trait of following sport and watches cricket, in all its forms, at any time, day or night and for hours on end. JT will know who is playing who in tennis, rugby, cricket, football whilst I'm obliviously reading or sketching on my iPad. It is JT who enthusiastically discusses sport with our adult children and grandchildren, not oblivious me.

                                                JT

Having spent a life time working in music, radio and TV I remain a media addict. Its just that now, not having to make work decisions on what I view or hear, my own tastes have been revealed. Now a TV show has to be exceptional to get my continued interest. Reality TV was probably introduced to New Zealand TV screens by me and back then, I loved most of it. Now? Give me a break.

My love of good TV drama has not changed and has in fact increased, so now I search the world for quality drama and we, as JT shares my passion, spend most evenings engrossed in drama from the UK, USA, Australia, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Spain and even from countries, not normally known for their TV production such as Columbia, Croatia and Argentina. Sadly, little of the drama produced here in New Zealand makes our viewing cut, although Australia still competes well with the wider world for our screen time.

Who would have believed in my TV working days, certainly not me, that 95% of our TV viewing today would be from internet downloads or streaming and only 5% from regular local TV? Who in 1957, when I started work in the music business, would have believed that today I have my entire music library of around 23,000 songs on a personal phone and that the device also has access to millions of music tracks on demand? Love it❤️

Radio? Hardly ever tune in anymore. I get my music leads from Spotify, YouTube, family, friends and on-line music news sites.

Pop music has changed. What hasn't changed is my need to seek and find new artists and music. However, there is less of it I like and the daily searches are sometimes frustrating. It is all worthwhile though when you come across artists like THE WAR ON DRUGS, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, FLORENCE and THE MACHINE, JESSIE WARE, LONDON GRAMMAR, RAY LaMONTAGNE and CHRISTINE and THE QUEENS.

Clothes? Gone is the wardrobe of tailored suits, designer label ties and smart shoes. One lone suit is surrounded by T shirts, a couple of comfortable sport jackets, jeans and shorts. Footwear is only one good pair of hardly ever worn street shoes, the remainder a variety of trainers. The aim is to avoid long trousers and jeans for as many days as possible; T shirts and shorts being the choice. The lone suit is reserved primarily for weddings and funerals, the latter more regular unfortunately.

Whilst I have always cared for those close to me and above all family, I have never really sought their approval and generally, selfishly, did what I wanted to do. In that respect the change in me is minimal; the difference now is now that whilst I care even more for those around and our ever increasing family, I still selfishly continue to do what I want to do and have even firmed in my ability to say no to attending events I don't want to go to. The upside I guess, if that I do go to an event or function it is, for me, special and a compliment to the event or host.

When JT and I met we were both fitness fanatics, our first date actually being an aerobics class. We are still exercising 4 to 5 times weekly, but neither of us are able to move freely and without joint pain. I guess the need to strive for fitness is part of who we are and a positive now we are ageing. We just love seeing our grandchildren enjoying and succeeding in their chosen sport or activity, though wish we were better able to enjoy it with them, rather than just watch from the sideline.

We often say that getting old sucks, but in reality it doesn’t. We just enjoy the positives it brings and continue to look forward, whilst warmly remembering a wonderful past. 

        At LES MILLS on my 80th

Sunday, September 15, 2019

John McCready-My 50 Years working in Music, Radio and TV

PART 1 PHILIPS RECORDS/PHONOGRAM NEW ZEALAND 1957-1973
LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/R8NQhO6UfSI

PART 2 UK RECORD DAYS 1974-1976
LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/AHDLw40CtHI


PART 3 NZ-AUSTRALIAN RECORD DAYS 1977-1982
LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/sujjrA2eHfk


PART 4 RADIO DAYS NEW ZEALAND 1982-1989
LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/H_7f2ZR_9UA


PART 5 TV DAYS NEW ZEALAND 1989-2007
LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/jUK2HaN0iAA

PART 1 PHILIPS RECORDS/PHONOGRAM NEW ZEALAND 1957-1973

LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/R8NQhO6UfSI




PART 2 UK RECORD DAYS 1974-1976

LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/AHDLw40CtHI




PART 3 NZ-AUSTRALIAN RECORD DAYS 1977-1982

LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/sujjrA2eHfk














PART 4 RADIO DAYS NEW ZEALAND 1982-1989

LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/H_7f2ZR_9UA











PART 5 TV DAYS NEW ZEALAND 1989-2007

LINK TO YouTube Video
https://youtu.be/jUK2HaN0iAA


















Tuesday, September 3, 2019

RADIO DAYS; RADIO HAURAKI 1982-87; 89FM 1987-89


RADIO HAURAKI 1982-1987

John McCready  1982
                          
In 1982 Michael Wall, who was managing Radio Hauraki on an interim basis and responsible for finding a new manager, heard that I was intending to leave my position as MD of CBS RECORDS AUSTRALIA and return with my family to New Zealand. Michael approached me and after discussion offered me the position managing Radio Hauraki. Although I knew nothing about running a radio station the job excited me and I accepted.


On arriving to take my position I found Radio Hauraki in a poor state. The station was sinking in the ratings and revenue was down. The music being played was, to my ears, too heavy. On-air staff played their own music choices rather than keeping to the stations play list. There was no regard for what the audience may prefer to hear . Programming staff were stuck on the idea that music stations 1ZM, Triple M and Magic 91 were the target opposition.

I didn’t see it that way.

On appraising the market I saw market leader 1ZB with their news and talk format as the one we should be competing with and viewed the music stations as just a cannibalising distraction.

My plan was to broaden our music to appeal to a wider age group, without losing our core 18-24 males, bring in more news, sport news and work towards a closer community involvement. I saw radio’s strength against TV and newspapers as radio being more local.

I also felt that our DJ’s, as they were called, were not warm to their listeners, but rather arrogant. I wanted warm, friendly and at one with our listeners.

It became quickly obvious to me that my plan would be undermined by key on-air staff and I made the decision to get rid of the old and their destructive attitudes.

My first task was to find a new Programme Director, a successful expert who would obviously know more about the day to day running of a radio station than novice me. A key appointment and one whom the staff, particularly those on-air, would respect. I determined that Ross Goodwin at 1ZM was the leading candidate having been successful there and he was also a programme manager who, like me, embraced audience music research as a programming tool.

Ross and I met and he was enthusiastic, but on one condition. I had to also create a position of Research Manager and hire Wendy Palmer, currently doing that role at 1ZM. It was a no brainer. Yes.
                               Ross Goodwin

Ross and Wendy joined and an audience research department was set up. Ross and I appraised our on-air line up and decided major changes had to be made, particularly in the key Breakfast slot. The timing was right with the much loved, but not rating as well as we wanted, Fred Botica, being offered a position in Australia. Ross hired Pat Courtney, whose style I disliked intensely. Ross was right and ratings improved.....for a while.

Over a period of months Pat’s behaviour off air became erratic and then whilst broadcasting he started to ignore our brief and become, in my view, disregarding of the audience. I wanted him gone. Ross wanted to hang in, but after a growing number of clashes with Pat, Ross finally got feed up and acted.

I wanted on air personalities that audiences would love. My plan was to get Kevin Black back from Triple M, hire TV newsman John Hawkesby for mornings and have them joined by a sports' expert. We set out to hire those talented broadcasters and after tough negotiations and a reluctant agreement from the board to pay major money, we succeeded. Joining Kevin and John was sporting journalist and commentator Phil Gifford aka LOOSEHEAD LEN.



KEVIN BLACK


                                          JOHN HAWKESBY


                         PHIL GIFFORD aka Loosehead Len

Ross Goodwin also hired a young TV presenter Phillip Schofield and this move proved another of Ross’s astute programming decisions. Phillip was very successful for the two years he was with us before returning to the UK. In the UK Phillip went onto a highly successful career as a TV presenter and is still going strong today, hosting a popular morning show.



As the new team cemented in, our music broadened and our news became more frequent and more local.

It worked and ratings began to climb. The board, rightly so, demanded I get increased revenue to compensate for the monetary investment and to catch up to the ratings increase. 
        The Radio Hauraki Breakfast and Morning Teams

I searched the market for the best Advertising Sales Manager and found that in Bernie Brown from RNZ Christchurch. Bernie was so good he signed a major sales contract with an advertiser at the airport on the way home after our hiring meeting. Bernie quickly built a new sales team, one that capitalised on our increasing audience numbers.


                             BERNIE BROWN
JOHN McCREADY with Promotions Manager ELAINE SPEARMAN

Radio Hauraki’s on-air team went from strength to strength and we succeeded in knocking 1ZB off the Number 1 rating slot. Coupled with that we were awarded with METROPOLITAN STATION OF THE YEAR 1984.







But, behind the successful front things weren’t going so well for me. Our owners, a group of successful businessmen, cashed in on our success by selling the business to Brierley Investments. From Brierley's I was getting a much more corporate approach and my enjoyment was waning.
JOHN McCREADY, KEVIN BLACK, PM R. MULDOON AND PRODUCER KIM ADAMSON 
NSW Premier N WRAN with JOHN McCREADY accepting NZ Radio Station of the Year 1985
JOHN McCREADY and JT TAYLOR
        
                                   1987
Early 1987, as part of Brierley’s expansion plans, they asked me to approach Barry Everard, majority owner of Triple M, to see if they were interested in selling. Triple M was now a not so successful competing station, but it did have the advantage of an FM licence. Barry wasn’t interested, but what he was interested in was me coming over to manage Triple M. Barry made me a generous financial offer.


 BARRY EVERARD

                                     
Barry had perfect timing. His offer coincided with my disenchantment with what I perceived as Brierley’s increasing corporatisation of Radio Hauraki within their desire to build a network of stations. I accepted Barry’s offer, resigned from Radio Hauraki and moved over.

89FM 1987-1989

I wanted Ross Goodwin and Wendy Palmer to move with me and as soon as I was in the Triple M chair I made each an offer. They accepted, but Brierley’s wouldn’t release them immediately and made them work out their current contracts.

So, without my two programming colleagues I commenced to re-shape Triple M. 

Triple M was an Australian brand and as the station was currently unsuccessful, I saw no value in the brand. So I decided to change the name and brand to coincide with introducing the new music format.

I decided on a name that would, importantly for a less than popular station, give our station’s address on the radio dial. So it was simply 89FM, but with the added positioning slogan AUCKLAND’S MUSIC LEADER.

Needing a strong logo for the new brand I turned to graphic artist supreme PETER BURT, who had designed many great logos and record sleeves for me over the years. Pete presented me with design after design, but none felt right. Pete one day presented me with an orange and black logo that incorporated a musical note: excitement rushed through my body. I loved it. It was strong and very distinctive. The master designer had done it again.


                 John McCready and Peter Burt



I began the process of changing the music played. I moved the content away from the existing playlist, which leaned towards male 18-24 age orientated rock, to a more pop and female acceptable 18-39 age targeted range of songs. I made no effort to change the on-air line up, preferring to wait for Ross. I did however promote a warmer, friendlier and more one on one style from those behind the mic.

The music changes and re-branding were an immediate success and in the next audience survey we gained a full share point.

Ross and Wendy then arrived and audience research was quickly established and on-air changes commenced. We tried hard to entice Kevin Black over to us, but not withstanding his contract at Radio Hauraki, Kevin was talked out of moving again by those closest to him. Finally we had to accept that and move on.


ROSS GOODWIN
                                 WENDY PALMER

For the important breakfast slot we chose Kent Robertson, a young up and coming broadcaster with a great voice, We put Mark Kennedy in the morning slot and paired him with newsman Mark Staufer, bringing regular news updates.

Sometimes in life you get lucky.

Unbeknown to Ross and I, Mark Kennedy saw wider potential in the younger Mark Staufer, more than just a a news reader; he decided they would make a great duo team. Mark Kennedy saw the expression TOP MARKS in an advert and thought it a great name for his perceived duo. Kennedy took the other Mark for coffee and floated his idea. They agreed and decided they would just join together as a duo on air without telling Ross or I and see how it went.

The TOP MARKS were an immediate hit, giving away branded T-shirts they jammed the Auckland phone exchange switchboard. Their style of teasing and sometimes outrageous banter hit a chord with the public and a unique on-air partnership had begun.

Naturally the young men were quickly in my office seeking a major pay rise, which they got.

We moved the TOP MARKS to breakfast, swapping slots with Kent.


                                           THE TOP MARKS
                                          JOHN McCREADY
          TOP MARKS, JOHN and WENDY
TOP MARKS PRESENTING A PRIZE AT MISSION BAY
                                
TOP MARKS didn’t stay in the studio, but got out to the public, broadcasting the show from buses, billboards and bridges. One day they even managed to get into Radio Hauraki and do a segment from there.

Meanwhile we increased our community involvement doing public events at popular beaches, markets and wherever we could make contact with the people of Auckland.

It all worked. By June 1988, less than a year from my joining, 89FM had climbed from near last in the Auckland market to Number 2 with an audience share of 14.2%. We were just a share point from now leader 91FM. Meanwhile Radio Hauraki had dropped to 6th place, a full 3.8% share behind us.
In the following survey in July 1988 we gained the Number 1 spot. We achieved a 15.2% share, whilst 91FM dropped to 5th and Radio Hauraki falling a further 0.2% share to stay in 6th place. Radio I became the new Number 2 with a revitalised 1ZB moving up to Number 3.




History repeated itself and like when we took Radio Hauraki to the top, things were changing behind the scenes. Barry Everard, who had until then been a great “hands off” employer, now wanted more day to day involvement and wished to bring in consultants to look at ways to increase profit margins. Profit had already been growing thanks to our increased audience share and I was not at all happy to lose any control over the day to day running. I decided it was time to move on to another challenge.


John McCready, Tricia Everard, Wendy Palmer and Ross Goodwin
                         
Fate took over and coinciding with my private decision to move on, I was approached by TVNZ to join their programming team as Manager of Presentation and Promotion. TVNZ we’re facing the introduction of TV3, the country’s first commercial TV station and wanted me to bring my commercial experience to assist in increasing ratings and profile. I accepted the position and Barry was totally understanding of my decision. We parted on the best of terms and Barry remained a good friend until his sad death in 2016.

After marrying my partner JT Taylor and honeymooning in Europe, I joined TVNZ in May 1989........but, that’s another story.

https://youtu.be/H_7f2ZR_9UA