MONEY, MEETINGS AND ALL THAT JAZZ: When Richard Wheatly took over at Jazz FM he had to act fast - the ailing station had lost its target audience and new launch Viva had fallen on deaf ears. His dealmaking has retuned the broadcaster in to profit. Alexand

MONEY, MEETINGS AND ALL THAT JAZZ: When Richard Wheatly took over at Jazz FM he had to act fast - the ailing station had lost its target audience and new launch Viva had fallen on deaf ears. His dealmaking has retuned the broadcaster in to profit. Alexand

by ALEXANDER GARRETT

Richard Wheatly's office bears little resemblance to that of the typical chief executive: the dimensions are modest, the carpet and furniture spartan, one window overlooks a building site and the other peers into the recording studio in the next room. On the filing cabinet a digital radio spills out bass lines and saxophone solos, and among the colourful wall-art is a bar of music, 'Blue rondo a la Jazz FM', signed with a flourish by one Dave Brubeck. And in pride of place over the chief exec's desk hangs a framed article from the Financial Times headed: 'Long drum solos are off the breakfast menu: after 10 years Jazz FM is taking the smooth ride to its first profit.'

When he arrived four years ago, urbane former ad man Wheatly found a business that was on the brink, its main brand mutated into something called JFM and a second women-targeted station called Viva haemorrhaging pounds 100,000 a month. Drastic action was called for, and Wheatly's first deft stroke was to offload Viva into the hands of aspiring media mogul Mohammed Al Fayed for an exorbitant pounds 3 million before taking Jazz FM back to its original name and plotting a path towards financial viability.

His second coup was to sign a deal with Clear Channel last year by which the US goliath took over the salesforce and a 34% stake in return for pounds 3 million and free advertising. The share price has tripled in the past 12 months, and the company at last finds itself within sight of that holiest of grails, profitability.

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