The most recent Capital Radio profile written by Campaign featured
Chris Tarrant as he mulled over a new multimillion-pound contract from
the station. Taking a stab in the dark, it is unlikely that Capital's
latest signing - the strategic marketing director, Linda Grant -
commands such a salary. However, her appointment is a vital one as
Capital demonstrates its continued commitment to building its own
profile, and that of radio as a medium, despite the downturn in
Grant has an impeccable background in newspaper sales and marketing. She
spent several years developing sales at the regional publisher Newsquest
before taking an ad manager role at The Daily Record and The
Associated Newspapers clearly recognised her talent and she joined Metro
soon after its launch as head of planning.
The initial role was to develop Metro's positioning to agencies and
advertisers as it entered the market as the first London freesheet.
Mike Anderson, Metro's managing director, says: "There's no doubt that
Linda played a role in the success of Metro. Her technical skills are
very good and she's able to paint pictures with figures and capture
Grant was elevated to the role of marketing director last year as Metro
moved into a second stage in its growth - one that, unfortunately,
coincided with the downturn in advertising revenue. Metro was rightly
applauded for its forthright response to the slowdown, running a series
of trade ad campaigns that emphasised the good performance of the paper.
It was applauded as a rare example of a media owner putting its money
where its mouth was during a recession - and some of the credit must go
The move to Capital will involve the Scot in a similar role, building
awareness of the broadcaster's offer and place in the market. As the
head of Capital Advertising's 16-strong strategic unit, Grant will build
on the job of her predecessor, Nikki Mendonca, in pushing the virtues of
both the radio medium and Capital's own offer.
Jonathan Gillespie, the director of radio at OMD UK, says: "Historically
Capital has been the market leader and it has taken the view that it is
important to be seen leading from the front. Increased competition has
made it more important to offer a rounded service. Its strategic unit is
like a mini-Radio Advertising Bureau; as a one-stop shop for all radio
needs it's a pretty good answer. They have got a good mix of evangelism
Gillespie's views are echoed at other agencies. Capital has put time in
educating on issues including digital radio and the Government White
Paper on media ownership.
The concern was that, following Mendonca's departure to the agency side
at OMD Europe, Capital's commitment to strategic marketing and planning
Grant's appointment allays these fears but an initial concern might be
her lack of radio experience. She is not worried: "I've never worked in
radio and it's a big change but there was a huge attraction to the role.
Radio is gaining share and growing as a medium and the future looks very
The long-term future might be bright but despite the robust activity by
the RAB, radio had a pretty bad time in terms of ad revenue last
Capital was not insulated from this and saw its full-year profits to the
end of September fall 27 per cent. However, its chief executive, David
Mansfield, attracted plaudits for his honesty in speaking of a downturn
as early as November 2000, well before its 2001 profits warnings.
Grant has a big job developing Capital's commercial offering across its
19 stations. Analysts have identified several key areas of concern,
including an over-dependence on the key London FM licence and falling
share among younger listeners (last year Kiss and others in London made
inroads). However, the general view is that Capital is doing well in
addressing these issues (a recent restructure of its general management
and marketing teams to add focus in the regions and London will help)
and that in employing Grant it has continued its commitment to acting
responsibly as a media owner.
Gillespie says: "The role is one that I see as necessary for all serious
media owners in the future. Capital's policy has been that it should
sustain this through the bad times. Hopefully she'll (Grant) be given
time and space to get to know the medium. It's a good move because she's
moving to a medium that has done well in taking revenue from print."
Grant will report to Linda Smith, Capital Advertising's managing
Smith says: "Linda has a great pedigree and it's a coup for us to get
her. She'll offer a different perspective and it's great to have fresh
blood with fresh ideas."
Although it is not Grant's direct responsibility, Capital's continued
commitment to advertising (its hiring of Delaney Lund Knox Warren &
Partners last year is now bearing its first fruits) should help in
building consumer awareness of its offering. Equally vital, given the
massive changes in radio ownership which are likely to occur, will be
Grant's role. Capital has already stated its interest in buying Emap's
radio operations. In the coming months, its senior management team may
be as important as its on-air talent.