Fresh out of university and a self-proclaimed ‘anorak,’ Michael Wilson always had dreamt of running a radio station. Today, he is one of the most powerful people in Ireland’s television industry, the Managing Director of UTV and currently planning the launch of his next television project; UTV Ireland.
RTS NI Futures interviewed Michael Wilson, MD at UTV at their First ‘Meet the Pro’ Event.
The Royal Television Society audience may have been surprised to hear a TV boss proclaim his love for radio, but Michael Wilson made no apologies for catching the radio bug at an early age. Wilson told the audience how he originally had only dreamed of running a radio station and had only moved into television after realising budgets were tightening on radio news.
The media boss told the audience at the RTS NI Futures’ first ‘Meet the Pro’ event last month how he had then sought work as a TV reporter but it wasn’t to his fancy. ‘It’s not as much fun as it looks,” he said. “It’s hard work and writing to pictures is a skill that I don’t have; I can tell people how to do it but I’m not very good at doing it myself.’
While the UTV Managing Director acknowledged that he had has his share of luck and good timing in the industry, he was keen to push the young audience to make opportunities for themselves and to do things to make their CVs stand out. He said that degrees were ‘vitally important but then count for nothing after your first job. It’s not something I look for in the team around me. What I look for is ability, willingness and ideas. I think what’s more important is to do things. The sort of things on your CV that will make you stand out…things that say “you know what I’ve got up off my arse and just because I’m interested I’ve done other things.”’
He added, ‘Nobody really cares that I have a Communications degree and when I will look at your CVs in the future I don’t really care either for people that I am bringing into the industry. Apart from that, they are keys that unlock the ability to go for jobs. At UTV there is a house rule in HR that you can’t get a job in our newsroom unless you have a recognised journalistic qualification.’
As for the future, Wilson said that he is keen to involve young people in UTV Ireland, his latest project. ‘You’ve already set up a television station in Ireland?’ asked RTS NI Futures Chairperson Brooke Allen, referring to Wilson’s involvement in the launch of Sky in Ireland. ‘The second time I’ll get it right!’ quipped Wilson.
The real test will come on the 1st January 2015 when the new channel is set to launch.