Media Headliner: Commercial radio has a champion in Chalmers

Global Radio's sales director, Ed Chalmers, loves radio for its dynamic and fast-moving environment.

The fact that Ed Chalmers, Global Radio's sales director, is barely distinguishable in the group photo that accompanied his team's entry to the Cross-Media Sales Team of the Year category in the Campaign Media Awards seems entirely appropriate.

Despite leading a 60-strong sales team that won the gong and was praised for unifying radio, web and mobile at last week's awards, the diminutive Scotsman has a remarkably low profile.

Chalmers' relative anonymity may have something to do with the three big names in the pecking order above him - with the commercial director, Mike Gordon, the chief executive, Stephen Miron, and the Global Group chief executive, Ashley Tabor, the station already has its share of company spokesmen.

Nonetheless, Chalmers, with his 17 years' experience in radio sales, has made a deep impression among the media buying community. "He's a horrible little ginger Scottish git," the Starcom MediaVest Group trading director, Chris Locke, says. "Which is a term of endearment. He's good for Global and he's good for radio. He is the clever one in that business."

Marmite-like by reputation, he has also acquired the moniker "Ed Charmless" for apparently possessing a blunt and aggressive demeanour. That said, he is respected for being a good operator and a passionate believer in radio and seems to be rather more liked than hated.

This belief in radio translated into success on the podium last week and Chalmers credits this to the work that he and his team has done in engaging agencies. "We're very clear about our strategy,"

he says. "We're a music and entertainment business with 180 different touchpoints; particularly our own content and live events, but also promotions, sponsorship and spot ads."

It's a remarkable transformation for a company that was formed out of the ashes of Chrysalis and GCap Media. Global Radio has only existed for two years and is led by the 33-year-old Tabor. With the help of his father and his associates, Tabor bought Chrysalis, the owner of the Heart, Galaxy and LBC brands, in 2007 and GCap Media, the owner of Classic FM, XFM and the One Network (now branded as Heart), in October 2008.

Since the acquisition, it has tried to present an external image as a company comprised of people who are obsessed with radio and who are inspired by the three brand values of "strive", "courage" and "dare". According to Gordon, Chalmers is the personification of this. "Ed's a very tenacious, committed and hard-working sales professional who takes enormous pride in his work," Gordon says. "He truly lives the values we have here at Global."

Chalmers enthuses about how the company has developed since its creation: "Our people are really important, every one has a voice which brings the business together and makes people stick with the company." And although Global Radio is only two years old, his own connection with its brands goes back much further.

Fresh from a year out teaching English in Madrid, Chalmers, who is fluent in Spanish, applied for a job as a sales executive at Capital FM in 1994. He jokes that he expected to turf out its then breakfast DJ Chris Tarrant within a week but although this didn't turn out to be entirely accurate, he has worked on its brands in their various iterations ever since.

"I've stayed in radio because I've always engaged with it," Chalmers explains. "I love working in a business that's dynamic, fast-moving and engaging. I like the people I work with and I never get the Sunday night blues. If you can get up on a Monday and enjoy going to work, why change?"

Chalmers' loyalty to the company saw him rise up the career ladder to become the sales director of Global Radio in 2009. It's something that one of his predecessors says was entirely well-deserved. "Global Radio would not be the success it is today without Ed," Simon Daglish, the vice-president commercial director at Fox Interactive and a former sales director of GCap Media, says. "He took a difficult situation and made it into a success. He deserves all the credit he can get for his patience, effort and determination - I am a big fan."

However, Chalmers faces further challenges that will require him to draw on these resources. Early next year, Global Radio launches the Capital network, in a bid to emulate the success of its 95.8 station in London.

Chalmers says the roll-out of Capital to ten further stations will make the most of a brand with global appeal: "If you look at how well it has performed over the past few years, it's a platform all the serious players in the music business want to have a relationship with, which gives it traction."

The national Capital will give Global Radio a competitor to BBC Radio 1, alongside its BBC Radio 2-like network Heart and BBC Radio 3-like Classic FM. "Advertisers want to understand the proposition and network brands allow them to do that," Chalmers says.

It is difficult to question Chalmers' commitment to the Global business and with a bigger palette next year, he is likely to do a successful job of championing it, in particular, and commercial radio as a whole. This is quietly pleasing news for a medium that has been short of good news stories for far too long.

Age: 41
Lives: Putney, London
Family: Wife, Sonsoles, and two kids, Megan and Ana
Car: X3
Favourite song: Rock 'n' Roll Star by Oasis
Favourite media: Capital Radio, XFM and Sky Sports
Best thing about working in media: It never stands still
Most treasured possession: My house keys
Interests outside work: My family, Real Madrid and being heckled for any
Scottish sporting performance


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