GCap in hunt for chief executive after Bernard calls time
LONDON - GCap Media is searching for a successor to Ralph Bernard, who today said he will step down as chief executive but will stay with the company as chairman of Classic FM.
Bernard chose what he labelled the 25th anniversary of his appointment as chief executive of GWR, one of the driving forces in the formation of today's commercial radio sector, to announce his intention to resign once his successor is chosen.
Acknowledging he had been in the industry "long enough", he said it was "time for a new chief executive to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead".
The leading candidate for the job is seen as Fru Hazlitt, the former Virgin Radio chief executive whom GCap poached in January to be managing director of its London stations. The other senior directors are chief operating officer Steve Orchard, a long-term colleague of Bernard, and finance director Wendy Pallot.
Bernard will stay with GCap as chairman of Classic FM, with responsibility for overseeing the station's licence renewal process, and will continue as chairman of GCap's digital multiplex operating offshoot Digital One.
Richard Eyre, chairman of GCap, said: "For 25 years, Ralph Bernard has been a colossus in commercial radio. His progress from the original foundation of GWR in 1982 to the creation and leadership of Britain's largest radio group is testament to his whole-hearted commitment to this industry.
"He has been at the forefront of digital development and industry consolidation and has changed the landscape of commercial radio with his leading role in launching Classic FM."
Bernard's announcement also coincided with GCap's interim results for the six months to September 30. The company reported profits of £763,000, compared with a loss of £8.2m a year earlier. Like-for-like revenues, excluding the sale of the Century stations, were up 4.5% to £100m.
Part of Bernard's legacy is the creation of GCap in 2005 through the merger of GWR with Capital Radio. Initially valued at £726m, GCap immediately hit a downward slope and most of the Capital team left the company amid the ongoing decline of the eponymous London station.
The group is now worth around £260m and, this morning, the company's share price hit a record low, down 1.78% to 151.75p.
Bernard began his career in radio 32 years ago as a journalist, going on to launch Wiltshire Radio in Swindon as programme director in 1982. Wiltshire was the predecessor to the GWR Group.
In 2002, he was made a CBE for services to radio broadcasting.
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