10 Questions with ... Lynn Barstow
December 6, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
KTKS/Dallas 2/85-5/86; KACO/ Bellville 12/86-8/87; KWIC/Beaumont-Port Arthur 1989-1990; KKYS/Bryan-College Station 8/87-4/91; KRGY/McAllen-Brownsville 4/91-10/91; KNNC/Austin 10/91-12/95; KGDE/Omaha 1/96-11/97; KMYZ /Tulsa 11/97-12/04 (also PD/on-air at KTSO); and KROX 1/05-present (also programmed AAA KGSR 6/08-12/09).
1. What stands out the most from working at The Edge in Omaha and K-NACK in Austin?
K-NACK as so much fun. All of us, pretty early in our career, were living in our favorite city, making next to nothing, and feeling like we'd been given the keys to the castle as our once-niche-y favorite music became The Next Big Thing pretty much as we signed the station on Halloween, 1991. Along the way, we learned, something, too, with a great staff that went on to bigger and better things, almost to a man. All of us -- Kriegler, Melody Lee, Drew Bennett, Jay Michaels, Mike Peer, Tim Davis and the rest -- were so driven by passion for the music that we were playing, and the city responded -- if not evident in the ratings (much of Austin couldn't hear us much of the time) than at least in recognition and affection.
The Omaha staff was ridiculous, too, before my arrival and thereafter, and all were such music fans. I stepped into Michael Steele's (Indie 103) shoes; Tim Virgin went to The Point just before my arrival; Kristy Kosach, too, headed off to an MTV career; no slouches with the ones left behind: Scott Papek's an insanely talented jock and imaging guy (and now photographer, too); Pat Safford's still doing successful Omaha radio; John Biondolillo has made a great career on the music side; Nikki Boulay could have worked anywhere but loves her hometown and family and still is on the air in Omaha; Ian McCain's doing great radio at WLUM -- just a fantastic crew, as talent and as people. That's definitely true about the staffs from both those stations.
2. Of all the things you've accomplished at 101X, what are you most proud of?
Nothing I accomplished -- I got lucky. Austin's got a tough field from 6-10a, and for various reasons, 101X had not had a consistent horse in the race. I arrived with only Jason Dick -- the green kid who'd risen from intern to barely-paid third wheel on the previous show -- holding down the shift, solo. I sold him in-house as a true star and experimented with a couple of things before arriving on Deb O'Keefe, who had also been the third cast member on a successful crosstown show. She'd been let go for budgetary reasons and had something to prove. Together, they've been magic, hitting their stride in the last six months of diary measurement in Austin last year. PPM's arrival set us back somewhat, taught us some stuff, and the show's right back among the top 2 English language shows in the field among adults 18-34. I'm very proud of them. With their success, the station has transformed from a jukebox that didn't have much listenership until afternoon drive to a station that contends strongly in the A18-49 demo and accidentally outperforms a lot of 25-54 players.
3. What do you like best you're your job? Least?
I still get paid every other week to listen to alternative rock music and deal with vibrant, fun people. That's what I hoped to do when I started. I guess in the push-pull between art and commerce, the biggest drags in the gig lie in the commerce, but it certainly doesn't spoil it for me.
4. What makes 101X a successful Alternative station?
The aforementioned morning show goes a long way; we get to be the flagship for worldwide music events like ACL & SXSW. We've arrived at a successful music recipe that includes content reflective of our great music town; our personalities are well-known and have great heritage in the market -- PM drive guy Toby Ryan has been with the station just short of all of its 16 years. Thanks to Promo Director AC Cantu and others, we have great friends with the folks who make the Austin music community run: C3 Presents, Transmission Entertainment (Fun Fun Fun and, traditionally, Emos), The Austin Chronicle, etc., and I think that -- with the whole staff calling Austin home for a decade-plus, we get what the community thinks is important & we address it on-air -- with everything from our music choices to our charitable causes and events. Also, having a Sales department who understands the product and what it can deliver, I've learned, can never be taken for granted. We're blessed here to have just that.
5. How would you describe the music and imaging on 101X?
The old industry standard of clever promos and writing between the records has given way, with PPM's arrival, to quick informative sweeps that maintain momentum from element to element. Where once were 40 or 60 second station promos, now nothing tracks really more than about 18 seconds. We don't over-think or -inform -- we just try to keep it sleek. Musically, the station's segued since my arrival from one positioned to fight off an upstart aggressive active rocker early last decade to one better positioned to complement the rest of the cluster, the morning show, and the Austin music vibe in general. I'd have called us left-of-center a year ago, but now the alt chart looks just like us, in terms of current music.
6. What is most important to you when championing new music for the station?
Is it a hit? Or...is it worth taking a chance on because it will react and become a hit?
7. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
Ha. I've gone from daily tanker trucks of Diet Pepsi to black coffee, now to a healthy supply of Tazo Zen green tea, and a few dark chocolate squares.
8. What do you like best about living in Austin?
Oh, I like its lefti-ness and creativity; that it succeeded in indoctrinating 400,000 new people to its ways since I first lived here in 1991, instead of entirely succumbing to all the outside influence. It's genuinely a community that people want to be a part of. Despite the influx of people, it still has a ridiculously low violent crime rate, a ridiculously high rate of locally launched businesses. It's easy to be active here -- actually, it's almost essential. Great food, great craft beers, etc. I can't believe I ever left here. Most don't.
9. What may surprise people most about the station?
For this audience: you got me. With the listening public, I guess technology and the bottom line have dictated that we have to work some magic with staffing to be successful. Nothing I care to dwell on.
10. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your radio career?
No one dies because of decisions we make. Have fun.
What are your hobbies?
I run. I homebrew occasionally. Live music's still great.
Last non-industry job?
For a while, when I was doing mornings at KNNC I was subsidizing my $18k income by checking and stocking at the Georgetown, Texas, HEB grocery. I still know my produce codes.
First record ever purchased?
When I was six Mom took me to a Gibsons and let me buy a bunch of 45 country singles. First album was a Buck Owens record. First rock album was possibly an Elton John greatest hits or Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus.
Springsteen, '78. Not "The Boss Is Back" run, but the regular Darkness tour after the record came out.
Favorite band of all-time?
I claim a big tie: Bruce, Neil Young, U2, and Afghan Whigs.