My Week: Gordon Mac of Colourful Radio

The Kiss FM founder on doing it differently at Colourful, modern technology and not being boring.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I spend three and a half to four days of my week at Colourful Radio; I have two slightly irreverent shows a week and I’m also head of radio. My management role is very creative – I was asked to come on board two years ago to re-programme the entire station because they wanted to go from a speech station to a music station (back then it was 80% speech, 20% music). It goes without saying that the reason they hired me is because I founded Kiss Radio, and Colourful is now the go-to place for people who used to listen to Kiss 10 or 15 years ago.

Radio has changed so much since I started Kiss in 1985. For a start, the availability of new technology means it’s so much less labour-intensive programming and running stations – which means there are more of them. I’ve always embraced technology, because if you want to stay young in your mind, you need keep up with what’s going on out there. Of course it makes my role easier too, which is all good. Unless it puts me out of a job.

The main difference between Kiss and Colourful is the size of the team. Kiss was such a big beast – there were 60-odd people in the building and including all the club workers there were probably about 150 of us in total. Every Monday we have a meeting at Colourful to plan the week ahead, and I’m always aware how much more compact we are; there are only about eight of us (apart from the DJs). The one similarity is when it comes to the marketing – just as it was in the early days of Kiss, there are no billboard campaigns, we are trying to grow virally. It’s going back to guerrilla marketing.

I’ve also been spending a chunk of my time working with a company called Winkball.com which is a kind of social networking site where you can upload videos. They have about 50 or so people who go to parties and events with small cameras and then upload videos to the site. So you can find anything on there, from messages for the troops in Afghanistan, to footage of the Notting Hill Carnival; people can then post videos in response. So I’ve been working with the guys there in the past three months to create a microsite to mark the Kiss 25th anniversary, which is this year. We got all of the original DJs to give interviews – talking about everything from Kiss’s days as a pirate station, to what they’re up to now. We also had a big party to bring together all the original pirate Kiss DJs - people like Tim Westwood, Trevor Nelson, Judge Jules and Jazzy B. It was on the 31st floor of Centre Point, at the Paramount club, which has a wonderful view. We danced until the sun came up.

Me and my partner Deborah generally like to make the most of life. We enjoy all the normal things like eating out, and we are both into music and films. We’re actually really missing our recently deceased dog at the moment, because we used to take him out for long walks. God I sound boring don’t I? Of course I go out mad raving partying as well, it’s just less often now. And it takes a lot longer to get over.

Gordon Mac is the head of radio at Colourful. He founded Kiss FM in 1985, which ran as a pirate radio station until 1990 when it gained its radio licence.

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