10 Questions with KIIS music director Brad McNicol
Australian Radio Network’s Brad McNicol recently featured on the list of the most influential radio music minds in Australia.
It was compiled by TMN in consultation with music industry figures, and also included NOVA Entertainment’s Paul Jackson and Southern Cross Austereo’s Irene Hulme.
He answers 10 Questions on life as a music director for the KIIS brand in Sydney and Melbourne.
How did you fall into radio and become music director for KIIS 106.5/KIIS 101.1?
I was working in hospitality thinking, “I need to sort myself out and be doing something I love” – which for me meant either radio, TV, or sporting mega-stardom.
Radio seemed the most feasible, so I joined the local community radio station and eventually answered an ad for a Street Team position with ARN.
Once I got a foot in the door I learned as much as I could as quickly as I could. I did every job from client BBQs and promotions to panel operator/weekend announcer, until an opportunity came up to fill in for the music director over the Christmas break.
That was about 12 years and several formats ago.
How much influence do you have on the music that’s played on either station?
We have a fantastic team in both markets that are regularly discussing all things music, but it’s our audience that have the greatest influence on what we play.
What do you look for when hunting the ‘next big thing’?
There are so many charts and social platforms now that can give an indication as to what’s going on, plus having great relationships with as many people in the industry as possible helps a lot in getting the heads up.
Ultimately, the sound needs to be right, so there’s a lot of listening.
Is it ‘gut instinct’ or other factors that guide you?
All of the available information can’t tell you how you feel about a song when you hear it, so it’s a combination of everything.
Is there a Sydney/Melbourne difference in the sound of the stations?
Each market is treated individually. While the overall sound is similar, Sydney and Melbourne are different and we listen to the audience on what they love and want to hear more or less of in each market.
What is it in the music you play that sets it apart from your rivals?
It’s a mixture of many factors, such as on-air talent, content, music and attention to detail that combine to make us unique.
Our musical goal is quite simply to be playing the songs that our audience want to hear most.
Which artists are you most excited about this year?
I’m loving that Sarah Aarons is popping up in more and more hit songs.
Her songwriting collaboration with Zedd on Stay, The Middle and Happy Now has produced three delicious pop smashes and it’s great to hear her fierce vocals on Peking Duk‘s Fire and The Rubens‘ Never Ever.
I am also looking forward to hearing what Rihanna’s got in store for us.
Is there an artist that you could listen to again and again and not get tired of?
I’ve probably heard more Ed Sheeran over the past 18 months than any other artist and still thoroughly enjoyed Give Me Love this morning, so he’s right up there.
Has there been an artist or artists that have taken you by surprise?
The way Post Malone exploded in 2017 was amazing and it’s brilliant to have had 5SOS roar back with Youngblood.
But great music and new artists can really come from anywhere so it’s important to be open to the unexpected as well as the anticipated.
Best gig you’ve been to over the past 12 months?
We had Zara Larsson absolutely slay it at one of our iHeartRadio LIVE events exactly 12 months ago. Symphony was one of my favourites at the time and she nailed it, even though it was a bit difficult to hear above my own boisterous singing.
Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran were excellent also, and P!NK is fantastic live so that’s locked in for next week.