10 Questions with ... John DeSantis
March 20, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Interned at several stations out of college - KLOS, KQLZ (Pirate Radio), and 91X. First on-air job was at KROR (Hot Country!) in Yucca Valley, CA. Stopped at KCAL, XHRM (The Flash), then here at KCXX for the last 16 years where I've done weekends, nights, mornings, and for the last six years PD/afternoons.
1. What stands out the most from when you started at X103.9?
I'd have to say technology. From on-air to computers and cell phones. When I started we were using carts and CDs. Most stations weren't using the internet. Now it's all automated, and social networks have become a large part of what we do.
2. After 16+ years at the station, what excites you most about programming X103.9?
I really like the fact that we compete not only with the stations in our market, but the Los Angeles stations as well. The fact that we continue to beat our competition in both markets speaks volumes about our staff, and their commitment to winning.
3. Tell us about your recent decision to bring back Freshly Squeezed and the Local Band Spotlight on Sunday nights?
I just felt that the time was right. The local band scene was coming back to life, and there was an abundance of new music that was getting very little exposure. My biggest challenge, if you can believe this, was getting somebody to host it. I would've killed for the opportunity to host something like this when I was starting out, but there were no takers. So I decided to host the features myself.
4. What is the strongest daypart on X103.9 and what makes it so successful?
Both our drive dayparts have been pretty consistent. In the morning we do a music-intensive show, hosted by Doug Durocher. Doug's got a fantastic sense of humor, and he's got a few regular features and listener-driven bits, but for the most part it's all about the tunes. I continue the music in the afternoon 3-5p, and at 5:00 we switch gears into Happy Hour. This feature has evolved over the years, but is essentially two hours of listener requests and radio games for the ride home. Currently we've also got middays and nights poppin' too, so things are good!
5. How has PPM impacted the way you program the station?
Initially it changed a lot of things. We really stripped everything down to the basics. Then over time we would try something to see if it made an impact. Some things worked, most didn't. But that's how we've learned, and I am very comfortable with what we're currently doing as it seems to be working.
6. What is most important to you when championing new music for the station?
It's really important that it fits into the balance of music we try to maintain. We've recently stepped out early on bands like Fun, Jack White, Five Finger Death Punch, Santigold, and Switchfoot. If it feels and sounds right, then we go for it. Rarely do we look at the national chart.
7. How much are you balancing gut with research when making decisions on new music?
We've got several tools that we use to gather information about new music, but in the end it's really all about gut feeling. It's hard to explain, but when something is right, it really feels right.
8. Of all the things you've accomplished at X103.9, what are you most proud of?
That's a tough question because I'm proud of so much we've done here with our little 180 watt signal. I would have to say at the top of the list is consistently beating KROQ, the station I grew up listening to in Los Angeles. They have a multi-million dollar morning show. They have a legendary programmer. They've got big budgets, 5,500 watts of power, 40+ years of "world famous" heritage, and access to every band, promotion, concert, actor, and comedian. They do giant shows in the center of our market and lock us out completely. And almost every record label completely bends over for them.
In spite of all KROQ has, they're practically a non-issue in our market, and that is something we are all VERY proud of!
9. What is your biggest challenge competing in the L.A. landscape?
It's really just trying to get our fair share. We don't expect what the larger stations get, but we want ours. Most labels, management, agents, and promoters are very afraid of upsetting the L.A. stations. Thankfully there are a handful of smart people in our industry that have figured out you can successfully take care of both markets.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
Starting it at the gym.
When you're away from work, what are your music listening habits to the radio, iPod, online, etc?
I try not to listen to our station when I'm not there. I'm usually monitoring the competition, or listening to sports talk. At the gym it's my iPod with metal or rap. I love Tech N9ne!