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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.
296 Episodes
Daniel Pearl is commissioning editor at Channel 5. He spent ten years at BBC News, where he edited the 2010 prime ministerial election debate, and was deputy editor on Panorama, Newsnight, and the Six & Ten O’Clock News.  In 2012 he joined Channel 4 as editor of Dispatches, winning a clutch of awards including two BAFTAs. Daniel also served as the network’s deputy head of news and current affairs, commissioning the Emmy-winning ‘Leaving Neverland’ revealing renewed allegations of child abuse against Michael Jackson.  In 2018, he moved to ViacomCBS for his current role, where he has created and overseen dozens of wholly new factual series, and notably brought Jeremy Vine into their morning schedule. In this in-depth interview, he traces his career through the shifting sands of current affairs coverage over the past twenty years; takes us behind the scenes of some of Dispatches ‘big hits’ including ‘plebgate’ and the Stephen Lawrence undercover policing scandal - which led to a full public inquiry; and shares his strategy to make Channel 5 make itself visible in a crowded news field, with hard-hitting content like ‘Hate Crimes: Uncensored’. [Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in London on 5th November 2019, well before the onset of the coronavirus public health crisis]
Paul Croughton is editor-in-chief of Robb Report. Founded in 1976, the luxury lifestyle brand has 18 international editions dedicated to cars, boats, planes and bikes – plus travel, watches, art & design, and food. Paul has spent the majority of his 20-year career on consumer titles, during which time he held a number of senior editorial roles at Arena and the Sunday Times. He launched the UK edition of Robb Report in 2016, and moved to New York to promote the brand globally as editor of their flagship US edition two years later. In this in-depth interview, he recalls his time on the launch team for celebrity weekly ‘Heat’, describes the challenge of creating content suitable for an ultra-high-net-worth readership, and discusses his editorship so far – including the ambitious redesign of its print edition and website.[Editor’s note: this podcast was recorded in New York on 27th February 2020, before the impact and scale of the Coronavirus was known]
Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE is an international best-selling novelist and journalist. Starting as a typist at the Yorkshire Evening Post, she became a reporter at 16 and was the paper’s first woman’s page editor at 18. By 20, she was a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street. Her 1979 debut novel, ‘A Woman of Substance', has sold 32 million copies worldwide. Since then, she has had 38 books published in over 90 countries and 40 languages. In this in-depth interview, Barbara looks back fondly at the creative process and inspiration behind some of her best-loved characters, describes the experience of transforming her books from page to screen – and explains why she thinks 'Me Too' has "overstepped the mark".
Media Masters - Chris Mason

Media Masters - Chris Mason


Chris Mason is a BBC journalist and presenter. Over the last 15 years, he has developed an increasing profile as an expert on all matters Westminster. He also hosts the Radio 4 show ‘Any Questions?’ and co-presents Newscast, the televised podcast which started life in 2017 as Brexitcast. In this in-depth interview, Chris recalls the ‘imposter syndrome’ he experienced during his first presenting role on BBC Breakfast, describes the experience of going viral after admitting on air that he didn’t have “the foggiest idea” what was going to happen during Brexit – and takes us through his appointment and first few months as host of ‘Any Questions’.
Felicity Capon is editor of The Week Junior. Aimed at eight to 14-year-olds, since its launch in 2015 it has become the UK’s fastest growing magazine with a circulation of over 70,000. Felicity is also a travel writer for the adult edition, and appears regularly on its weekly ‘Unwrapped’ podcast, which unearths underreported stories. In this in-depth interview, she explains how sticking to the facts allows them to tackle difficult subjects without dumbing down, recalls the “baptism of fire” in her first week following the Paris terror attacks – and discusses how their loyalty to print has enabled them to buck the trend of declining circulations.
Jay Rayner is an award-winning writer, journalist and broadcaster. Best known as restaurant critic for the Observer, during his 30-year career he has covered topics from crime and politics to cinema, theatre and the visual arts. His broadcast credits include the BBC’s ‘MasterChef’ and ‘The One Show’ and Radio 4’s ‘The Kitchen Cabinet’. He also presents his own podcast, ‘Out to Lunch’, in which he interviews stars in a restaurant of his choosing. As a performer, he can be seen on solo book tours or as jazz pianist with his band, The Jay Rayner Quartet. In this in-depth interview, he argues that he is a “deadline-orientated old hack” who just happens to write about food, explains why he always orders “the stupidest thing on the menu” – and reveals the creative process which helps him to find the story behind each review.
Jacqui Gifford is editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure. Known for its stunning photography of far-flung destinations, the world's most influential travel brand has five global issues with a combined circulation of almost two million and an online readership of nine million. A specialist in travel and lifestyle content for almost two decades, Jacqui has written and edited for publications including Vanity Fair, OK!, and Brides magazine. In this in-depth interview, she examines changing consumer tastes such as the shift towards multigenerational holidays, discusses the challenge of appealing to the Instagram generation who value imagery over experience, and evaluates the impact of modern travel on local economies – and the planet.
Philip Thomas is chairman of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which celebrates the achievements of the creative communications industry. Its prestigious awards attract 30,000 entries from over 100 countries. Previously, Philip enjoyed a successful journalism and publishing career, and was editor of Empire and managing director of FHM Worldwide. In this in-depth interview, he explains why businesses that invest in creativity are more successful, discusses plans to create a movement with Facebook and Google to make the internet “a bit kinder”, and looks back on his “extraordinary” time transforming FHM into a global business – before the internet killed the magazine “stone dead”.
Phil Riley is a radio and podcast entrepreneur. Starting as a trainee at Birmingham-based BRMB in the 90s, he ultimately became programme controller. He launched the first ever Magic station, and led the transformation of Heart FM into one of the UK’s key industry players. Now a senior independent advisor, he has been called one of the most influential people in commercial radio. In this in-depth interview, Phil describes his journey from “doing grunt work” at BRMB to selling it as part of a reported £50m deal, discusses how micropayment models could lead to podcasts being monetised, and with over half of listeners now tuned into national digital stations, answers the question: “Can local radio survive?”
Media Masters - Mike Gunton

Media Masters - Mike Gunton


Mike Gunton is creative director of BBC Studios' Natural History Unit, and has been in charge of its programming for over a decade. Responsible for bringing new and pioneering stories about the natural world to global audiences, he has worked on more than 300 documentaries during his 35-year filmmaking career. In this in-depth interview, Mike explains how an “idiot” weaver bird inspired him to make documentaries entertaining and relatable, discusses the groundbreaking new technologies developed to film the plant world for the upcoming series ‘The Green Planet’, and outlines the challenge of showing audiences the reality of climate change without “being preachy”.
Media Masters - Ross King

Media Masters - Ross King


Ross King is an award-winning entertainment journalist and presenter. Starting in hospital radio as a teenager, he went on to work as a DJ, presenter and actor in the UK before leaving for Los Angeles in 2000. As entertainment correspondent for ITV, he is known for his red carpet interviews with Hollywood’s biggest stars on shows such as Good Morning Britain and Lorraine. In this in-depth interview, Ross describes the “light and shade” of covering celebrity gossip alongside hard-hitting news stories, argues that the 'Me Too' movement hasn’t yet killed the Hollywood casting couch – and reveals his favourite celebrity encounters from his star-studded career.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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