Seven stalwart exits, stage Wright

01/06/2004 - 22:00

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THE sales team at Channel Seven is preparing to undergo a make over that mirrors in its programming agenda, with the focus of both shifting to a younger market.

THE sales team at Channel Seven is preparing to undergo a make over that mirrors in its programming agenda, with the focus of both shifting to a younger market. 

At the end of August, 42 years of experience, in the form of sales director John Wright, will walk out the doors at Channel Seven.

Despite the end of such a long career, however, Mr Wright is philosophical about the need for change.

He believes replacing the old with the new is something every business must do eventually.

“I told my boss in Sydney that Perth’s biggest strength is its longevity. We had five reps here who had been here for 20 years or more but I thought that at some stage we would have to have a succession plan because otherwise you have all the experienced people leave at the one time,” Mr Wright told WA Business News said.

“Rick Nairn is the group sales manager and he retires on July 1 and I retire on August 30.

“Bruce Gliddon will take over from me and he’s got 25 years’ experience, and we’ve just employed Andy Ward who has worked at Channel 10 and more recently was the marketing manager at the WA Trotting Association.

“Karen Bowler is on maternity leave so we have a trainee rep in. But I think having younger people come in is a good thing.

“Like most businesses there’s not too many major things that are new, apart from cars that add new parts, but from a marketing and promotions point of view most things are regenerated and rejigged. It’s amazing what fresh blood can do. They come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“That helps the clients, it helps revenue, it helps ratings.

“You have to build from the bottom to keep the company moving forward. It’s just like a football team; if you don’t recruit younger players and train them, you can fall from the top eight to the bottom of the ladder quite quickly.” 

After spending the first decade of his career at The West Australian, Mr Wright has spent the past 32 years as a member of the Channel Seven sales team, 16 of those as the sales director.

“I started at The West as an office boy. I had done my junior year, which is year 10 I think and got a job there,” he said.

“They moved me into the advertising department, which is what they did then, they sent you to where they wanted you.

“I did nine or 10 years there and then I was offered a job at Channel Seven. It was a bit of a transition and I guess the most difficult part was getting used to the instantaneous component of television.

“With press you have deadlines, but [at Seven] a client could ring me at 9am in the morning and I could get them on the air at midday.”

During his 32 years in commercial television Mr Wright has seen it all, from the low-tech days where there was only one calculator in the office to the introduction of Channel Nine and then Network Ten.

And there have been more than a few long lunches along the way. 

“There was a huge contact with clients because in those days they didn’t have VCRs so we had to bring them in here,” he said.

“The advertising agencies came here to shoot the ads and often there would be a sales executive out here on a Saturday or Sunday holding the hand of clients. That, of course, would lead to a few drinks. It was good fun.

“We did lunches that turned into dinners and sometimes I wonder how we ever did it.” 

Mr Wright will leave Channel Seven with a wealth of memories.

His office is filled with more than 30 baseball caps – all gained through corporate functions – signed footballs and other Channel Seven memorabilia.

And he’s got a few stories to tell from the good old days when things took a little longer – and not just the lunches. 

“When I first started here there was one calculator, which was the size of that [51cm] television. It sat on a trolley,” Mr Wright said.

“To use it you had to book it and wheel it down from accounts to sales and add up audience figures and then hand write the proposal that was typed up by one of two secretaries.

“If there was a mistake the whole thing was done again because we had a rule that there would be no white-out.

“For a $100,000 proposal it took about four days, now it takes an hour. We live and die by the machine, every morning we’ve got ratings news and we can run the figures.”

He said that while Channel Seven had come under the ratings spotlight in recent times, he thought the station’s performance was impressive.

“I think Perth is the most competitive market in Australia and I think it always has been,” Mr Wright said.

“The market is pretty buoyant at the moment.

“About six or seven months ago, and the seven months before that, it was pretty tough.

“I think this station is doing a remarkable job because we haven’t got the football and our programming isn’t that great. We’ve won more weeks than we’ve lost this year.

“We’re up against the football, Big Brother, and the CSIs and we’re doing a good job.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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