10 Questions with ... Tyler Russell
November 13, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- GM of ChapmanRadio.com at Chapman University 2008-2010
- Production/Programming Intern at K-EARTH 101, HOT 92.3 and 102.7 KIIS 2009-2010
- Nights at 93.7 KCLB Palm Springs 2010-2011
- APD/MD/Afternoons Crush 103.9 Palm Springs 2011-2012
- Conceptualized, created, and launched KX 93.5 Oct. 15, 2012 in Laguna Beach.
1. What led to the launch of an Alternative station in Laguna Beach?
I've been hanging out in radio stations for the last six years or so, and everyone older, wiser, and more veteran in this industry has asked me the same question: "Are you sure this is the career you want to pursue?" I remember at my very first internship at CBS Radio, Jhani Kaye and I were talking, and he told me I should major in political science or something; that maybe I was too smart to consider radio as a professional in the 21st century!
To make a long story long, I kept asking myself at station after station why somebody doesn't DO something in regards to the amount of pessimism that is expressed from everyone who has seen radio change over the past several decades. I believe that most terrestrial radio stations are going backwards. The audience wants local, but stations become more syndicated and voicetracked. The audience can get music anywhere for free, but stations take more and more responsibility away from the jock, which is the only thing that distinguishes radio from an iPod. I was motivated to be a driving force in the direction I think radio needs to go. It needs to return to its roots -- hyper local, not chart-driven, and with jocks having an actual influence on the music and the content their audience wants to hear.
So, I found a LPFM licensee that was struggling with a decent signal, moved the transmitter 5.6km to the beach, and followed a dream.
2. What sort of things is KX 93.5 doing to be local and community-oriented?
It's hard NOT to be in a community that is a complete stranger to FM radio. Because of the canyon, it's very hard to receive any stations in this small town nestled in the saturated greater Los Angeles area. So, residents have been extremely enthusiastic and supportive.
We accomplish it basically by allowing the community to host volunteer shows at night (7p-midnight) and on weekend mornings. The station doesn't completely ditch its format but does get a lot more eclectic each weeknight with Laguna Beach-centric shows that highlight local businesses and non-profits, play beach tunes (reggae/ska), interview local figures, etc. One recent volunteer show, for example, was hosting an on-air debate of the candidates for Laguna Beach City Council -- we're the first forum in the area that could host something like that since there is no local TV.
3. Explain the station's position playing Generational Alt Rock from the 1960s to today?
The station originally started as simply "Indie/Alternative Rock," but we're in a unique situation where we have to appeal to an extremely wide demo, like persons 18-65 and beyond, since we're the only FM in the area. So I began playing with the idea that "alternative rock" has really existed since the Vietnam-era and the counterculture movement of the 60s, so maybe it shouldn't be put into a bubble of the past 10 years or so. So "Generational Alt Rock" was born in an attempt to reach two generations - deep cuts from classic rock, new wave, and grunge artists you know, as well tracks from up-and-coming alt bands from today. If we play a band everyone knows, we avoid the single.
4. What is the KX 93.5's coverage as a Low Powered FM Station?
It reaches all of Laguna, but we push the web and mobile stream as much as possible. In our opinion, if you dig our music, our view on FM radio, and like hearing what's going on at the beach, then you should listen from anywhere!
5. What may surprise people most about the station?
Our transmitter is next to our conference table, and our antenna is on our roof.
6. How are you using Social Media?
Our Facebook has gotten over 600 likes in two weeks, and I think it's for a couple reasons. It's really eye-catching design-wise: (www.Facebook.com/KX935), and we don't really use it to promote ourselves. A real turn-off for me as a radio consumer is looking at a Facebook wall and seeing the entire history of posts as "Hey guys today we're giving away ____, make sure to listen at 3:15!" Instead, everything we post is about the audience, our community, or promoting the artists we play.
We're Tweeting every day at up-and-coming artists that we're trying to champion. We'll make friends with them digitally so they can drop by our beach-side studio!
Also, all the jocks have a tumblr account, and it's integrated into the blogs section of our site.
7. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
A can of coke. Not a bottle or from a fountain, but a can. Important detail.
8. Tell us about your "Countdown Syndrome" show?
My other current pursuit is in TV hosting, assuming someone in that industry agrees I don't have a face for radio. I'm currently managed by CMEG/Marki Costello in Los Angeles, and I started the web series "Countdown Syndrome" to unleash my sarcastic rage against pop music in front of a camera. Every month, I recap the top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and make fun of them in a playful, Tosh.0, The Soup kind-of-way:
9. What would surprise people most about you?
One time I auditioned for American Gladiators. I didn't make it. I guess that last part isn't a surprise.
10. How did you first become interested in radio?
I always knew I was interested in journalism but didn't know much about radio until I interned at 94.9 MIX FM in Tucson with Bobby Rich's morning show. He was a big supporter of me and encouraged me to pursue radio. I still go to him for advice today!
What are your hobbies?
I played Division III tennis in college at Chapman and still try to get on the court a lot.
Last non-industry job?
Would you believe it ... I've only ever gotten paid to work in radio.
First record ever purchased?
I embarrassed myself enough by saying my first album was Hanson, so I won't tell you it was the Spice Girls (it was).
Favorite band of all-time?
Really hard to choose, but I love Ben Folds/Ben Folds Five. He is awesome to his fans and releases great album after album.