HEADLINER: A final leap to the summit for Capital Radio’s new bigchief

David Mansfield takes the helm from Richard Eyre at Capital. By Eleanor Trickett.

David Mansfield takes the helm from Richard Eyre at Capital. By

Eleanor Trickett.



David Mansfield can’t talk for very long. He may just have landed,

arguably, the top job in commercial radio, but he has to rush away to

his daughter’s school where he will preside over the summer

barbecue.



’The other parents don’t care that I’m chief executive of Capital Radio

plc,’ he explains, ’they just want their sausages cooked properly.’



Chief executive of Capital? Hang on, wasn’t he commercial director a

couple of months ago? And wasn’t he just made group managing

director?



Well, if you didn’t know about Richard Eyre grabbing the top Network

Centre job and Mansfield being elevated to chief executivedom, you must

have bypassed Soho last week.



Not that Mansfield himself knew straight away he had the job. After the

confirmation of Eyre’s departure on Thursday, he apparently assumed

nothing until the papers were in front of him.



Now they are, he acknowledges the magnitude of the task before him.

’Richard is a hard act to follow,’ he says, ’but the management

structure he devised is as strong as it can be and I have no plans to

make any changes.’



One task ahead of him is to prove the acquisition of the My Kinda Town

restaurant chain was a sound move. Richard Wheatly, chief executive of

Jazz FM - which is beginning a restaurant venture of its own - warns:

’Forming a synergy between a radio station and a restaurant needs lots

of work.’



Mansfield, however, is confident. ’Russell Scott (former chief executive

of the Harry Ramsden fish and chip chain) starts next week, and works

brilliantly not just in the restaurant business, but also the

entertainment business.’



It is only relatively recently that Mansfield stepped into radio, his

pre-Capital career being TV-based. ’When I was at Thames Television I

didn’t think about radio too much - only as a consumer, and that’s the

big thing for me in this new job. I was always a fan of Capital and

listened to it avidly. Now I am responsible for it, and I know

first-hand how important it can be to people.’



An old sparring partner of his, Tom Toumazis, now managing director of

Emap On Air (Emap Radio’s sales operation), has known Mansfield since

the 70s. ’What can I say,’ Toumazis reminisces, ’about the man who took

me away from LWT, lured me to Scottish TV losing me loads of money in

bonuses, then pissed off to Thames five months later?’



What indeed? Toumazis continues: ’A big part of his success is he

realised the importance of having a good relationship with clients, when

everyone else was still sucking up to agencies.’



This relationship has obviously thrived, and has seen Mansfield through

several roles. And, although he may have been described as a ’hard-nosed

sales person’ and even ’a miserable bastard on first impression’ by Eyre

himself, the radio thing obviously suits him. For instance, according to

Toumazis: ’The longer he’s been at Capital, the more rock and roll he’s

become.



He’s started wearing black T-shirts and riding a Harley.’ Perfect for an

alleged Neil Young fan.



Murray Dudgeon, the managing director of Classic FM, is an old pal of

Eyre’s, but is confident in Mansfield’s ability to take over. ’He’s a

very able, solid operator,’ he says. ’Did he tell you Eyre’s would be a

tough act to follow? That may be so, but he’ll be very comfortable in

the role. Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humour.’



Ah, that sense of humour (well, he is a Wimbledon season

ticket-holder).



You can’t talk to anyone about Mansfield for long without hearing of

some occasion or other when he rendered them helpless with mirth.

Indeed, one radio insider says: ’I’m sure he’ll be fantastic as chief

executive. But if anything goes wrong, he’ll make it as a stand-up

comic, no problem.’



And, yes, he is a biker (what is it with these radio guys?). The big

events of the week for Mansfield were ’getting this job and buying a

garage to park my Harley in’.



It is too soon to ask about Mansfield’s replacement as group managing

director (though the station director, Martina King, has been tipped for

the post).



And, unfortunately for me, this is not the only question that cannot be

asked. Mansfield is straight. Rather than flannel over difficult

questions about potential appointments and the Virgin merger, you’re

given a polite: ’Sorry, I can’t discuss that with the press.’



That’s the thing about Mansfield. He may make the odd journalist squirm,

but you know he looks after his brand. Isn’t that what Capital

wants?



Furthermore, if Chris Tarrant suddenly loses his voice, Mansfield is on

hand to step in and crack a few jokes.



The Mansfield file



1977: Client sales executive, Scottish Television and Sales



1985: Marketing controller, Thames Television



1992: Group commercial director, Capital Radio



1997: Group managing director, Capital Radio



1997: Chief executive, Capital Radio.



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