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Media Masters

Author: Media Masters

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Extended one-to-one interviews with the key people in the industry. Find out their tips for career success, and peek behind-the-scenes at their workplace. Candid, thoughtful and reflective - a chance to share the insight of those at the very top of their game. Presented by Paul Blanchard.
285 Episodes
Trevor Beattie is one of the most accomplished and respected faces in the British advertising industry, and founder of ad agency BMB. Responsible for creating iconic campaigns including ‘Hello Boys’ for Wonderbra and FCUK for French Connection, he is also a movie producer whose films include the BAFTA-winning sci-fi movie ‘Moon’, and documentaries on subjects such as the thalidomide scandal. His poster featuring William Hague’s face superimposed onto an image of Margaret Thatcher played a key part in Tony Blair’s second landslide victory, and he went on to lead Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign. In this in-depth interview, Trevor describes how he “tricks” his brain into creative thinking, argues that the “drippy” sentimentality typified by the John Lewis adverts is on its way out – and explains why his most famous campaigns would now fall flat in the face of political correctness.
Media Masters - John Bird

Media Masters - John Bird


John Bird is founder and editor-in-chief of the Big Issue. Launched in 1991, the independent magazine is sold by homeless people to help them out of poverty. Their charitable foundation, launched in 1995, helps people in 74 countries by providing support and advice. He also started the International Network of Street Papers, which supports 100 publications with a combined readership of more than 100 million. In this in-depth interview, John reveals the costly mistakes which almost caused the magazine to fold in its first year, describes how he transformed the business in just three months following an ultimatum from a high street investor – and outlines his vision for “prevention, emergency, coping and cure” which he hopes will eradicate homelessness for good.
Lord Michael Grade is one of the most recognised names in television. With a background in light entertainment, he started his broadcasting career at LWT in 1973. Dominating the British entertainment industry for five decades, he has held the hat-trick of top television jobs – chief executive of Channel 4, chairman of the BBC, and executive chairman of ITV – as well as a chairman at Pinewood Studios. He was awarded a CBE for services to broadcasting in 1998 and was made a life peer in 2011. In this in-depth interview, he recalls the highs and lows of his five decades in the industry, explains why he left a lucrative role at Embassy Television in the US and took “the biggest pay cut in history” to become controller of BBC1, and discusses one of the proudest moments of his career – his involvement in the groundbreaking Live Aid concert.
Media Masters - Alex Hill

Media Masters - Alex Hill


Alex Hill is the CEO of AEG, the global sports and live entertainment company. They own, manage or consult with more than 120 arenas, stadiums, theatres, clubs and convention centres around the world, entertaining more than 100 million people annually. Starting out at KPMG, Alex was appointed CFO at Freemantle Media before being headhunted by AEG in 2007. In this in-depth interview, he takes us through the operation to reinvent the O2 from an idle “white elephant” that was the Millennium Dome into a multi-purpose international venue attracting nine million visitors a year, takes us behind the scenes of their global events such as Coachella and the ATP tennis finals, and gives us a glimpse into the future of the events industry – from 'scam-proof' tickets to the cutting-edge holographic technology which allows artists to perform in multiple venues simultaneously.
Dr David Starkey is a historian and broadcaster. Developing an interest in the past through grammar school and a scholarship to Cambridge and a lecturer in Tudor history at LSE for nearly 30 years, his trenchant opinions and unforgiving style quickly caught the eye of broadcasters and journalists. His popular television documentaries include ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Monarchy’, and his appearances on Radio 4's ‘The Moral Maze’ earned him the reputation as “the rudest man in Britain”. In this in-depth interview, he argues that the rise of historical programmes has done nothing to reverse the decline in academic standards, discusses how his uncompromising nature has taken him through his career, and reveals how a passion for tradition means he is a staunch Conservative – despite his working class roots.
Media Masters - John Ryley

Media Masters - John Ryley


John Ryley is head of Sky News. Abandoning his original plans to become a barrister 35 years ago, his career in journalism started in local radio before joining the BBC’s trainee scheme. Working on programmes such as The World at One and the Nine O’Clock News, he left for ITN in 1990, where he later became editor of News at Ten. Joining Sky News in 1995, he took the helm 11 years later. In this in-depth interview, John reflects on key moments of his career including the successful campaign for televised election debates, talks about their culture of continuous innovation including ‘Sky News Brexit-Free’, and reveals the name of their new global news channel, launching in partnership with NBC. 
Melissa Fleming is Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications at the United Nations. Leading a team of 700 people in 59 countries, she is responsible for galvanising global support to tackle issues around climate change, war and sustainable development goals – as well as drawing attention to the plight of the world’s 70 million refugees. Her TED talk describing one young woman’s harrowing escape from war-torn Syria has been viewed by millions, inspired her best-selling book and will soon be a Hollywood film. In this in-depth interview, Melissa discusses the challenge of mobilising global citizens into taking action, explains the power of storytelling in drowning out the “drumbeat of war”, and defends celebrity ambassadors such as Angelina Jolie against critics who accuse them of being “white saviours”.
David Aaronovitch is a columnist and presenter. Starting his career in the 1980s as a researcher, he moved from television to print journalism in 1995 as chief leader writer for the Independent. He has written for many newspapers in the UK and has won numerous accolades, including the Orwell Prize for Political Journalism, and his television work includes the BBC1 documentary series ‘The Blair Years’. He has also written three books, including ‘Voodoo Histories’, which debunks modern-day conspiracy theories. In this in-depth interview, he discusses being a “radical moderate” in an era of increased polarization, argues that the thinking around urban myths such as the “fake” moon landings has led to the rise of Trump and Corbynism, and after nearly two decades of writing columns, takes us behind the creative process.
Camilla Tominey is associate editor of the Daily Telegraph. Reporting on a variety of royal and political stories over the last 15 years, she has covered major events from royal weddings to lavish foreign trips, and has witnessed the “brutal” inner workings of Westminster. In this in-depth interview, she explains the rivalries within the Royal household and how each “doubles down” separately in times of crisis, argues that privileged politicians have to take a “long, hard look at themselves” – and examines the options available to Buckingham Palace to deal with Prince Andrew.
Media Masters - Daniel Roth

Media Masters - Daniel Roth


Daniel Roth is editor-in-chief of LinkedIn. Described by Business Insider as ‘the most powerful business journalist on the internet’, he oversees their Daily Rundown of news and insights, which is viewed by more than 40 million members a day. With users spanning 56 countries and nine languages, the site could be considered the world’s largest business publication. In this in-depth interview, Daniel outlines how the “three C’s” – 'creating, curating and cultivating' content – help to “pop the filter bubbles” of social media, explains how teams of “relevance engineers” use machine learning to keep users’ newsfeeds fresh and relevant, and argues that, with more than two million posts hosted on the site daily, “writing is the new resumé“.
James Harding is co-founder and editor of Tortoise Media. Starting at the Financial Times on the European desk, he later opened their bureau in Shanghai before covering the media beat. In 2007, he moved on to the Times where, at 38, he became its youngest ever editor. He was ousted by owner Rupert Murdoch five years later, and moved on to the BBC as director of news and current affairs. In this in-depth interview, James argues that the demand for breaking news has led to "headline addiction", explains how their 'ThinkIn' conferences are creating a more open form of journalism which puts the emphasis on context and depth, and describes the moment he decided to leave the BBC to launch Tortoise on Kickstarter – despite being tipped to become Director-General.
Julia Hartley-Brewer is a journalist and talk radio presenter. A vocal and high-profile Brexiteer, her appearances on shows such as Question Time often divide opinion and provoke fierce debate on social media. In this in-depth interview, Julia argues that her talkRADIO show speaks to an audience that is “sneered at” by a “largely liberal media elite”, discusses the “terrifying phenomenon” of ‘no platforming’ and its effect on democracy, and defends the charge that opinionated, ‘non-neutral’ radio talk shows have contributed to the increasingly combative tone of political debate. 
Justine Picardie is the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK. During her long career she has been features director of Vogue, editor of the Observer magazine and a columnist for the Telegraph, and has written five books. In this in-depth interview, Justine reflects on her career as she departs the magazine and describes how she rediscovered “a sense of sisterhood” in the editor’s chair in memory of her late sister; discusses her role as launch editor of Town & Country, and how the “dream of Britishness” is popular in the US; and advocates for the “power of paper” over digital – and the connection between fashion and great works of literature.
Martin Bright is an investigative journalist and social entrepreneur. During his 20-year career he’s covered politics, religion and culture for a range of newspapers, magazines and television channels, and was the first non-Jewish political editor of the Jewish Chronicle. While at the Observer in 2003, he exposed the dirty tricks behind the Iraq War after receiving a leaked memo from GCHQ whistleblower Katherine Gun – a story dramatised in the new film ‘Official Secrets’.  In this in-depth interview, he discusses the real events behind the film and how it felt to see Matt Smith play him on screen; reflects on his time with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation – and why he now believes it was ultimately doomed to fail; and describes why he founded Creative Society, a non-profit dedicated to social mobility in journalism and the creative industries.
Jeremy Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor. One of Britain’s best-known war correspondents, over the last 35 years he has brought the region’s most important stories to our screens – despite being shot, robbed at gunpoint, threatened, arrested and even thrown in jail. In this in-depth interview, Jeremy relives some of his most pivotal moments, from his first foreign assignment covering the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 to his recent battle with cancer; discusses the practical challenges of reporting impartially on issues like Israel, when both sides complain every report is biased and even the choice of individual words have to be taken carefully; and takes us behind the scenes of his interview with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Roula Khalaf is deputy editor of the Financial Times. Described in 1991 as an “insolent reporter from Forbes magazine” by the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Jordan Belfort, she was subsequently fictionalised in the Oscar-winning film. Starting as their North Africa correspondent in 1995, her rise though the FT ranks has been consistent – as Middle East editor she launched their regional edition, and led their coverage of the Arab Spring. In this in-depth interview, she celebrates the “rebirth of fact checking” prompted by the Trump presidency, discusses the implications of Brexit through a global financial lens, and describes the role AI plays in their journalism – including the “Janet Bot” which alerts editors to the under-representation of women within its pages.
Media Masters - Chris Burns

Media Masters - Chris Burns


Chris Burns is head of audio and digital for BBC England, and is responsible for the majority of their local radio stations across the country. Starting as a late-night phone-in presenter for Radio Trent, her career has included stints editing shows on Radio 4 such as Woman’s Hour, Any Questions and Start the Week, and she is now tasked with reinventing the medium for the next generation. In this in-depth interview, Chris walks through a career dedicated to radio, having developed a love for it as a child, argues that “repeats shouldn’t be a dirty word” as they give people a chance to revisit much-loved programmes, and explains how new technology is driving a deeper “emotional connection” with listeners.
Melanie Blake is a celebrity agent and author. Starting her career at ‘Top of the Pops’ in the 90s, in her four years on the show she increasingly advised stars on a myriad of professional opportunities, which led to her launching her own agency.  In this in-depth interview, she takes us behind the scenes of the multi-million pound deals brokered for client magazine spreads, books, tours and television shows; reveals her strategy for the cut-throat negotiations around structured reality shows such Big Brother; and pledges never to end her fight against industry “ageism, classism and sexism” – which are “still very real barriers for women in the entertainment industry”.
Fraser Nelson is editor of The Spectator, the world’s oldest weekly magazine. Celebrating a decade in the editor’s chair, on his watch circulation is now at its highest ever – nearing 80,000 print, 2.5m online and 1.4m podcast listeners. In this in-depth interview, Fraser describes how he spent his early years as editor trying to recreate “the Boris peak” and contrasts it with now covering his predecessor as Prime Minister; welcomes the greater numbers of people willing to pay for quality journalism, because print advertising revenue is “never coming back”; and explains why commissioning the cover cartoon is one of his most important responsibilities.
Adrian Lovett is CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation. Founded in 2009 by the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, it tackles the “digital divide” – fighting for more than half the world’s population who still can’t get online, and for the other ‘connected’ half too, for whom the web’s benefits come with risks: to privacy, democracy, and freedom itself. In this in-depth interview, he argues that internet access is a “basic human right” akin to clean water and education, reflects on the web’s recent 30th birthday, and outlines his vision for the future where people “create as much as they consume”.
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