OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Linda Smith - The new Capital ad chief thinks morals and media do mix

’My Catholic guilt is what drives me,’ confesses Linda Smith, who joined Capital Radio Advertising as managing director last week.

’My Catholic guilt is what drives me,’ confesses Linda Smith, who

joined Capital Radio Advertising as managing director last week.

’A Catholic upbringing makes you believe you are never working hard

enough - or doing the job well enough.’

Smith, 37, may have a religious sense of morality, but she’s as

streetwise as its gets when it comes to wheeling and dealing in

business. ’I like the adrenaline rush of doing a deal,’ she admits.

’There’s nothing quite like the cut and thrust of negotiation - and I’m

not afraid of confrontation.

’I used to sell to all the big agencies back in my days at Media Sales

and Marketing (Capital’s old sales house) and would often end up going a

few rounds with agency heads. But I would never use underhand or

dishonest tactics.’

Smith has yet to define the parameters of her new role at Capital.

Although she has absorbed former sales director Fru Hazlitt’s position,

her remit will also cover long-term strategic planning. In addition, she

will look at developing interactive sales and devote time to the

expansion of the digital radio platform.

’The consumer is still confused about digital. It’s important to buy-in

the consumer vote and sell the benefits of a switch-off before we can

talk to agencies or advertisers about digital,’ she says.

Smith certainly has the right credentials to take on the job, and it’s

not the first time she has crossed paths with Capital chief executive

David Mansfield. In fact, she has worked for him twice before.

She ran the international office - using French and German skills gained

at university - for Thames Television under Mansfield. She later jumped

ship for Carlton, where she took the role of client sales manager. But

she returned to work for Mansfield at Media Sales and Marketing, where

she remained until she joined MediaVest as its commercial director a

couple of years ago.

Smith admits this last post gave her a useful insight into buying after

spending so much time on the other side of the fence.

Outside of work, Smith is a happily married mother of two, having been

brought up in a family of five children.

Her hobbies include cooking, reading and listening to music, and she

says her favourite piece is Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, although she’s

also been known to bop away to Van Morrison.

She loves travelling and talks fondly of trips to India and the Far


The wanderlust probably stems from her childhood, which was spent in

Africa where her father worked for the government of Malawi.

Smith certainly isn’t one for putting on airs and graces. Despite her

new seniority, the dynamic media woman still intends to arrive at work

wearing cycle clips and clutching a helmet. She cycles to her office

three times a week. ’It’s all about juggling,’ she confides.

’You have to know how to fit in your exercise, leisure time, looking

after children and doing your job. Men are better at specialising and

get promoted on the back of that, but women are better at combining


Whether or not it’s ultimately down to her Catholic upbringing, Smith’s

juggling act certainly seems to have paid off and has not stopped her

from climbing the career ladder.

Smith on media morality

’Always remain honest and fair in all your dealings. Otherwise, things

will catch up with you. Make sure you always listen. It’s a simple

thing, but so many people just don’t concentrate properly on what you

are saying, which can lead to no end of trouble.’