Jonathan Webb: My Life In Media

'I am proud of the new-look Bravo. I am passionate about creating thinking men's television - too many people in media underestimate what men really want'
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The Independent Online

Jonathan Webb, 38, was this month made managing director of Flextech Television, the broadcasting company that owns the LIVINGtv, Bravo and Challenge channels. Webb, who began his career as a marketer at Unilever before entering the television industry, is a big jazz fan who once set up a Soho club called Red Johnny's. He lives in Brighton with his wife Linda and their two children.

What inspired you to embark on a career in media?

I remember walking into the props department of the old TVS studios and seeing lots of giant crayons and paint brushes from Art Attack and being instantly seduced by the multicoloured magic of telly.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

The Daily Express, and yes I did read it. I wanted to be a journalist so wrote terrible reviews of football games (Hereford United!) and sent them in once a week. A week at the Hereford Times a year later extinguished any desire to be a journo.

And what were your favourite television and radio programmes?

I was a real fan of the Radio 1 Roadshow, especially Bits and Pieces.

Describe your job.

My job is three things - giving a shape and purpose to a seemingly random collection of programmes (aka the vision), selling it relentlessly to anyone who will listen and, most importantly, creating a safe place for my programming teams to take risks.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

It has to be Radio Five Live, which sets me up for the day, and BBC 6 Music.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Popbitch, Broadcast, Media Guardian website and Entertainment Weekly (US).

What is the best thing about your job?

Everyone telling you that you're mad to commission a new genre such as poker and then creating a new ephemeral craze that you ride hard and fast. Ratings really are our crack cocaine.

And the worst?

Everyone telling you that you're mad to commission a new genre and being absolutely right.

How do you feel you influence the media?

The rather hefty lunch account, a genuine passion for what I do and a hopeless inability to lie.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

The new-look Bravo this winter/spring. I am passionate about creating thinking men's TV - too many people in media underestimate what men really want. That and performing as David Bowie in eight-inch transvestite boots live in front of 2,000 of my peers in a special version of Stars in their Eyes at the Edinburgh TV Festival this summer.

What's your most embarrassing moment?

Watching the DVD of Stars in their Eyes afterwards.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Life on Mars is one of the most original and cerebral shows on telly - I can't wait for the new series. And I'm avidly fixed to Towers of London on Bravo - I defy anyone not to be glued to this punk rock band's antics.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

The Observer, The Independent on Sunday and my guilty pleasure is the News of the World. My magazine repertoire consists of theModern Drunkard (US), The Week, The Ecologist and VolksWorld.

If you didn't work in media what would you do?

I'd be running a tepee farm on the Dorset coast.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Nigel Pickard for his generous spirit, unerring encouragement and sense of humour. Lisa Opie for her wisdom and conviction. And Ricky Gervais for laying himself totally bare in the name of comedy.

The cv

1994: Leaves Unilever to enter television marketing, working for the Family Channel, which he relaunches as Challenge TV

1997: Becomes head of marketing at Flextech Television, two years later being appointed head of brand development

2001: Channel controller of Challenge TV

2003: Becomes channel controller of youth station Trouble

2005: Appointed to oversee the repositioning of men's channel Bravo, he brings back Italian football coverage and Bullseye

2006: Made managing director of Flextech TV

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