The head of BBC Radio 5 Live says podcast success is key to his legacy in the job.

With increased numbers of people now accessing radio via DAB, mobile and the internet, only 50 per cent now listen via analogue signals, creating a challenging environment for traditional radio.

The medium-wave station dedicated to news and sport is massively popular and has produced the two most popular podcasts of 2017 to date: ‘Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy’ and the crime series ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt?’

Jonathan Wall has served as the controller since 2013 and says success upon new media platforms, including podcasting, can help reach new audiences.

“Sometimes you write down what you want to do in the next three or five years of your life, and for me it’s about leaving a legacy in the job I’m doing,” he told a packed audience at our ‘Secrets of leadership’ event at Themis, at Burnley College.

“I don’t want to be a manager who manages decline. There are barriers in radio – medium wave, in our case, and one or two other issues about audience behaviour – but I use that as a motivating factor.

“We’ve done the two best podcasts this year, the Flintoff one and the crime – so that’s a positive motivation.”

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Wall was integral to persuading big-name presenters Andrew Flintoff and Robbie Savage to partner with sports journalist and former international  table tennis player Matthew Syed for the sports podcast which debuted at no.1 in the overall UK chart in February.

‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt?’ focuses on real-life crime stories and also hit no.1 immediately after launching in June.

Wall is responsible for setting 5 Live’s overall strategy and leads a team of 200 people.

“In terms of leadership, the single biggest thing for me is authenticity and the moral compass you have in a job. You must have an instinct for what’s right and fair,” he said.

“There must also be a bigger purpose for what you do – one which your staff feels inside and which motivates them to get up in the morning.” 

  • The Secrets of Leadership event was sponsored by Themis in association with CascadeGo HR software.