Paul Boon bows out of radio after 34 years
Paul Boon, commercial radio campaigner, broadcaster, editor and regulator is retiring from Ofcom after starting out in his first job in commercial radio as a newsreader on Radio Jackie in 1983.
In the late 1980s, he chaired the Association for Broadcasting Development (ABD) a lobby group that successfully campaigned to government for more commercial radio stations, there being just 46 at the time.
Paul recalls: “With pending legislation the industry’s trade body AIRC (forerunner to RadioCentre) wanted deregulation without competition, but the ABD won the day and the Broadcasting Act 1990 established a new regulator which was tasked with licensing hundreds of new Independent Local Radio stations”.
Under his leadership the ABD negotiated fresh terms with copyright body PPL and secured an end to needle time, the rationing of the amount of music that could be played on radio.
The ABD also overturned a regulation preventing US-made station IDs being broadcast on commercial radio.
It was at this time, Paul worked as an intermediary between Douglas Hurd and David Mellor for the Government and John Whitney and Paul Brown for the regulator, and was the architect who brought about the award and launch of 26 new incremental stations in six months, ahead of the new legislation.
“These were pioneering times,” he recalls, “the ABD put some of the building blocks in place on which today’s commercial radio industry is built”.
He co-wrote winning licence applications going on to help launch and work on several local stations before joining The Radio Magazine. Following the untimely death of its founder Howard Rose, Paul was appointed Managing Editor of The Radio Magazine 2002 to 2008.
At Ofcom, Boon worked on different commercial and community, analogue and digital radio projects as well as dealing with regulatory and de-regulatory matters. He was the Chapter Editor of the radio & audio chapter of Ofcom’s Communications Market Report. “For the last eight years I guess I have been a poacher turned gamekeeper”, he says, “but it has been good to both see and experience first-hand the many facets of UK radio, the medium I still love.”