I’m Daniel Owen. That’s me in the photo, trying to look presentable. If you want the full version of my life story, it’s below. The potted version is: one-time media regulation executive who down-sized and moved to the country and did some writing. I now live in North Devon with wife, son, a cat, five chickens and two ducks.
The point of this blog is to allow me to pontificate on whatever subject pleases me at any given moment. Likely topics will include politics, religion, philosophy, media, technology, food and chickens.
Feel free to comment on anything posted in the blog. Comments are moderated primarily to avoid spam, but also to allow me to block offensive or abusive content. Otherwise, feel free to disagree with me as passionately or angrily as you wish and I’ll be happy to allow the comment to be published. If you have a criticism of the blog overall, just remember that you’re not paying for it, and no one is forcing you to read it. The internet is a big place – I hope you find what you’re looking for on it somewhere.
So – back to me. This is where you get my full life story. (The ‘Back’ button is up there somewhere.)
I was born in Surrey in 1972 but got out before all the Chelsea football players moved in. My formative years were spent in Wimbledon. I studied American History and Politics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, during which I did a year of study abroad at the George Washington University in Washington DC. While in Washington, I worked as an (unpaid) intern for Louisiana Democratic Senator J Bennett Johnston (now retired and running his own lobbying firm). I also worked at the campus newspaper, the GW Hatchet, becoming Senior Staff Writer. At UEA, I got involved in the campus radio station (being, at various times, Head of News, Breakfast Show presenter, and Station Manager – I was good at the first two, rubbish at the latter). I also got involved in the students’ union, spending a sabbatical year as its Academic Officer after I graduated in 1994. I consequently spent way too much time in university committee rooms, resulting in me believing that university administration was my true calling. Nine months as an Administrative Officer in the Senate House of the (otherwise excellent) University of Warwick soon beat that out of me, and I was lucky enough to land a job at the Radio Authority, from which I never looked back.
I joined the Radio Authority – then the regulator of all non-BBC radio in the UK – in 1996 as Development Officer, becoming Deputy Director of Development in 1998. This mostly involved conducting the assessment of applications for new local radio licences, and advising the Authority board who made the final decision on who should be awarded those licences. I also managed the Restricted Service Licence (RSL) regime and, amongst other things, I invented the Low-Powered AM (LPAM) licence used by some student and hospital radio stations, for which I don’t think today’s student radio activists give me enough credit – or, indeed, any at all.
At the end of 1999, Chrysalis Radio – then the UK’s fifth largest commercial radio operator – coaxed me to join them as Strategy and Development Manager. I became Strategy and Development Director in 2002 and then – largely because I wasn’t actually doing any strategy or development – I got my title changed to Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs in, I think, about 2004. I started off just doing licence applications. I won no FM licences at all, despite writing applications for about a dozen. I did, however, win five regional DAB multiplex licences for the MXR consortium, which is more exciting than it sounds. No, it isn’t, actually. After a while, I started to broaden my role, mostly to stave off the risk of redundancy. I took on public affairs (which mainly involved having drinks with DCMS civil servants, and being insufferable in meetings at RadioCentre, our trade body) and then compliance (which mainly involved trying to get presenters to stop doing stupid things on air and appearing on Channel 4 News to look shifty when asked about premium rate competitions).
I’m something of an authority on media regulation, though I say so myself, and I also got quite involved in advertising regulation – as a board member of the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice; a member of its Code Review Panel; and a member of the CAP/BCAP advisory General Media Panel. I could drone on for hours about advertising regulation, which is far more interesting and stimulating than you might imagine.
In 2007, Chrysalis Radio was acquired by Global Radio, who immediately went on to acquire GCap Media plc, and become the UK’s largest commercial radio group. I stuck around, providing some marginal assistance at the edges of these deals, and continued doing for the new owners what I had always been doing. Separately, my wife and I had decided a couple of years previously that we would try and get out of London and move to the country and it was coincidence that we were finally in a position to move house just after Global completed its acquisition of GCap.
I left Global in 2008 with a view to becoming a freelance consultant, providing training and support to anyone who wanted it on broadcasting compliance, regulation and policy. A few people did want it, which was nice, and I set myself up as a limited company – Rulebook Consulting Ltd – becoming a self-employed sole trader a year later. We moved to North Devon Christmas 2008, and our son was born February 2009. I have done consultancy work for various companies including RadioCentre, Global Radio, UTV, Celador, CN Group, Orion Media and Creative Skillset. I finally won an FM radio licence – in Bath, for Celador.
I’ve got a little bored of media regulation, to be honest, so I don’t do much consultancy work any more. I’m looking for other opportunities and would like to find one or more non-executive roles in the charity or public sector where I can be valuable and make a contribution to something worthwhile. I used to be a Trustee of the Radio Academy – a sort of professional body for anyone who works in radio – and was until very recently a Trustee of the Prison Radio Association, a truly brilliant charity that runs a national prison radio network and advises prisons on setting up their own radio projects. Of all the organisations I have ever worked for or with, the Prison Radio Association is the one that I am most proud of, and I am pleased to remain a General Adviser for them.
I blog, or at least I plan to blog. Back in 2005, when blogging was still a bit novel, I fancied starting a blog and couldn’t think what to put in it. Then I remembered an idea I’d had years before of trying to track a US presidential election for a full four-year period – to see how the candidates emerge early on, and how their campaigns and fortunes develop over time. The blog I started was called ‘Oval Office 2008′. I did not choose that election because I expected it to be interesting – although it obviously was. It was simply the next election at the time I decided to start a blog. It turned out to be something of an adventure for me, as the blog got mentions on MSNBC, CNN and even ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’. Pundit and academic Susan Estrich, in her 2005 book ‘The Case for Hillary Clinton’ used my blog as a research resource, and described me as her (Estrich’s, not Clinton’s) “favorite blogger”. I made an appearance on Sky News, and for a couple of years was the American Politics Analyst for London news and speech radio station LBC. (It helped that the company I worked for owned the radio station). Sadly, by the end of 2006, my actual paying day-job was preventing me from spending any time with the blog (which paid nothing), so I had to pull the plug on the blog just as it was getting interesting. I spent election night 2008 not blogging or broadcasting from some exciting location in America, but at home in London with friends and family.
Unemployed (yet tantalisingly employable) since 2009, I have continued doing bits of media consultancy work, and had a most enjoyable time in 2010 teaching students of radio and radio production at Bournemouth University. In January 2012 I began writing a weekly opinion column for the Barnstaple edition of the North Devon Journal.
If you think I might be an interesting person to work with, you should know that I am presentable, amusing and enjoyable company. I am a confident public speaker, accustomed to dealing with people at the most senior level, and take pride in my professionalism, punctuality, propriety and political astuteness. Basically, I think and I write – and I am above average at both. I am not much of a morning person, but I can get over it.
Feel free to contact me (but read the ‘Contact Me’ page first, especially if you’re a loony).