What I've Learnt: Richard Maddock, Commissioning Editor at BBC Radio 5 Live
Richard Maddock is BBC Radio 5 Live’s commissioning editor, based at MediaCityUK. He joined the BBC in 2013 after 20 years in commercial radio at Bauer Media.
As part of his role, Richard commissions radio programmes and podcasts to add to the station’s award-winning line-up. He works with independent production companies to find only the very best content for the radio station - which receives at least five million listeners a week.
He shared what he's learnt during a fascinating and exciting radio career.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
The half an hour of silence first thing in the morning before my six-month-old son wants his bottle of milk, my six-year-old son wants to run around the house with his lightsaber rather than get ready for school, and my 37-year-old wife wants to talk about why we need to book a holiday. 6am to 6:30am every day is my half-hour of peace and quiet to catch up on all the things I never get chance to do during the rest of day.
What's been your luckiest break?
Picking up a random phone that was ringing at a night course I was on when I was 18 because nobody else was around to answer it. The person at the other end of the line was the Head of News at Radio City and he was asking if any of the students had any radio experience and would be willing to go down to the radio station to help produce their election coverage the following week.
In a moment of complete madness I said 'yes', and recommended a bloke called Richard Maddock, saying he would be great at it and that I would send him down on the night. I had never even been in a radio studio before let alone knew how to produce a live programme.
The fateful day came and, in a scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’, I told no one, turned up on the night and basically blagged the next 12 hours pretending to know what I was doing. Before I left, I consciously left my coat in the studio so I had a reason to go back the next day to collect it, which I did. I then went in the day after that and the day after that, until people were used to seeing me in the building (even though I didn’t have a job to do when I was there!). To cut a long story short, about 10 or so years later I was the MD of that very same station.
What's your best failure?
Turning down the chance to become the ‘Head of Radio’ at a major record company 20 years ago where I would have worked closely with an aspiring A&R guy on some exciting projects. That guy was Simon Cowell. I wonder whatever happened to him.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
My first house, I bought it just before the housing boom. It was a new-build two bedroomed house on the beach in New Brighton that cost £45k. It was a great house in a lovely location and seemed expensive for a house in 1997!
How would you describe your work/life balance?
To quote that great philosopher Homer Simpson: “If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
John Goddard’s Life List. At the age of 15, after hearing a conversation between his parents in which his dad was talking about regrets he had in life, he heard him utter the phrase: “If I had my time again...” This had a profound impression on John who never wanted to feel like his father so sat down and listed 127 goals he wished to experience or achieve in his lifetime.
It is an incredible list, inspiring and audacious and included climbing the world's major mountains, exploring from source to mouth the longest rivers of the world, piloting the world's fastest aircraft, running a mile in five minutes, and reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. He dedicated the rest of his life to achieving his goals and when he died in 2013 he only had 15 left to go. A truly incredible story and proves anything is possible.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Don’t go on that 18-to-30 holiday to Faliraki in a few years’ time, and as an Evertonian, don’t have an annual bet with your Liverpool-supporting mate about who would finish higher up the league every season. It will be an expensive precedent you’ll set!
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Two people. A girl who was in my class at school called Wendy Marsden who told me one day that a local radio station had an open day and she was going to go along to see what it is was like. I’d never thought at all about getting into radio until she said that, so I went along and that one day changed the direction I thought I was going to take as a career.
The second was one of my first bosses called Gerry Phillips who put his neck on the line in offering me, a complete novice, a full-time job in radio production about 25 years ago. I’ve never forgotten the faith he put in me.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
I’ve had lunch with the Queen.
What does success look like to you?
Contentment… and a month in the Maldives.