10 Questions with ... Lesley James
November 12, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
CD102.5 has been my only radio gig. I was a Guest DJ in 2004 and passed along my resume to our beloved PD at the time, Andyman, and the rest is history. I've been with the radio station almost nine years!
1. Tell us about being hired by former PD Andy Davis (a.k.a. Andyman) and what you learned from him?
I was a Guest DJ in 2004, a weekly Friday hourly specialty feature (which we still do), where we invite a listener to take over the airwaves for an hour and play their favorite songs. After my hour of fame, I met Andyman and passed along my resume. I spent a few minutes raving to him about the station and how much I would love to be a part of it. He invited me to attend the weekly music meetings and within a month I was training to be on-air. I truly believe my persistence played a major role in getting a job. I officially became a weekend personality in late January of 2005. I moved to the midday slot within seven months and after Andyman passed away in July 2010, our owner Randy Malloy called me in and basically told me that the PD job was mine to lose. I have been handling programming and afternoon drive duties for over three years.
What did I learn from Andyman? Being that CD102.5 has been my only radio gig to date, I learned a lot! What's great about independent, locally owned radio is that we are a family. We know each other's business on and off the playing field; we're all extremely close. Andyman was my mentor. I admired his charisma, his passion, and devotion to his family at work and home. After being in the PD position for three years, I've learned to leave "work" at work and enjoy the time at home. When it came to programming, if Andy was passionate about something, he took the chance and played it. He helped to break a bunch of artists across the country and supported the local music scene. As his predecessor, I have made it a point to continue to take the risks that Andy took. I'm just thankful I got the chance to work with one of the best!
2. Sadly, Andyman is no longer with us, but he left an indelible mark on the station. Explain how his legacy lives on to this day?
There's not a day that goes by that he isn't brought up in conversation. Andyman was CD101/CD102.5. We try to keep his spirit involved in everything we do. Most recognizably, there's the annual pledge drive, the "Andyman-A-Thon," which Andy helped to start over 20 years ago. Every December, Andy would take over the airwaves for 48 straight hours to raise money for children's charities in the Columbus community. http://cd1025.com/about/in-the-community/andyman-a-thon.
Just last week we announced "Andyman Ale". Our radio station's charity, CD102.5 for the Kids is teaming up with local brewery Columbus Brewing Company, who is brewing special ale this holiday season. Our goal is to help raise money for children's charities in Central Ohio in honor of our beloved Andyman.
3. What do you love most about your job?
I love it all. Seriously I know it sounds cliché, but I'm living a dream! I love the people I work with every day, I love the music we play, and I love interacting with the fans. Best part of my day is 2p-6p when I'm on-air and I hang out with my friends, the CD102.5 listeners! Oh, and helping to put together a sold out (10,500 capacity) summer show and high-fiving the fans at the end of the night is pretty damn awesome too.
4. After 20 years as being branded as CD101, how difficult was it changing to CD102.5 and why is the station now hitting new ratings heights?
Luckily we were able to simulcast on both the 101.1 and 102.5 frequencies for a year. That definitely helped. I also believe our name approach was strong. Even though it was mouth-full, we started calling ourselves "CD101 at 102.5," and after another year and a half we moved to "CD102.5."
The 102.5 frequency strength has played a key role. We're reaching audience members we could never talk to before. It also helps that the alt format has been thriving for several years now with amazing talent and diversity. CD102.5 is a new music station. We play a substantial amount of new music (40+ currents). Not only do we take a chance on new talent, but we commit and give songs time to develop with listeners. We also play deep alt rock cuts. Besides the 90s gold records, we dive into classics from The Cure, David Bowie, The Clash, Ramones, Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, New Order, The Replacements, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, etc. Our playlist is very diverse and bold. We generally play over 800 different songs a week. Not only do we focus on new music, but library cuts play a big role too. One of my biggest programming priorities is to keep the entire playlist fresh.
There are some other reasons......but I can't give away all of our secrets
5. What may surprise people most about the station?
Honestly, that CD102.5 is independent! Who owns you? Why aren't you on iHeartRadio? We get those two questions a lot. We are a standalone, locally owned and operated radio station. We thrive on it and have been doing it for 24+ years!
6. Explain how you rank songs in the station music meeting each Thursday and who is involved each week?
Songs get rated on a scale of 1-10. Obviously we don't go below a 5 otherwise you're completely trying to tank it. We ask that one rank a song based on if you would like to hear it on the station, does it fit with what we're doing right now, is there a need for that sound and/or style, etc. Most importantly we give every song a shot and do our best to keep personal opinions out of ranking. In recent years, our music team has morphed into a group of staffers that are a sounding board for new music. Our team consists of DJs, promotions interns and listeners. Our music meetings are open to anyone! Spread the word 12:30-2p, every Thursday.
7. What is most important to you when championing new music for the station and how does your music feature "Diamond In The Rough" and "In The Stack" show impact your decisions?
Going with my gut and acknowledging listener feedback. I use several tools when deciding new music adds. Since I've been PD, I have made it a point to involve our listeners more than ever before, but just like Andyman, I continue to take a chance. We don't want to be last on a record, CD102.5 wants to be first!
8. What are most proud of this year about CD102.5 Day, Summerfest, and your upcoming holiday show?
I'm proud of them all. I love that feeling when I'm getting ready to announce the lineup and then see all the excitement build on social media from our listeners. We do these shows for them! We wouldn't be able to do what we do for 24+ years, if it weren't for the support of our fans. With the help of the amazing record company community, we have been able to put on massive "listener appreciation" shows year after year.
CD102.5 Day has blossomed into back to back Saturday shows in late March and early April. Our goal every year is to deliver the best lineup featuring up-and-coming talent for an extremely low price! This past year featured Alt-J, The Joy Formidable, The Neighbourhood, Little Green Cars, Guards, Family of the Year, San Cisco and The Virginmarys. Tickets were $5 for each show and sold out in just four hours, which was record breaking time.
CD102.5 Summerfest expanded quite a bit this year; from 5200 to 10,500 capacity and it SOLD OUT. It was our biggest show ever featuring Matt And Kim, Cold War Kids, Ra Ra Riot, Smith Westerns, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Cayucas, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., and Thao And The Get Down Stay Down for only $15.
Our Holiday Show benefits CD102.5 for the Kids, which holds a special place in all of our hearts. This year's gig features one of the best live bands in the world, Foals. Trust me, I have a feeling next album cycle the Oxford, England quintet will be playing arenas! Also on the bill Washed Out, FIDLAR, and Wild Cub. The Show takes place on December 12th and it's our official launch party into the 21st Annual Andyman-a-Thon, December 13th-15th.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ________?
An XL Tim Hortons double double coffee
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I'm a big animal lover. I recently adopted my third dog, a hairless Chinese Crested named "Cosmo" (named after Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer). And, I'm an identical twin. My sister Lisa is a buyer for the TGX Company and lives in London, England. Even though I didn't think it was possible, she may be a tad bit more obsessed with music than me. I'm six minutes older!
What are your hobbies?
Collecting vintage vinyl.
Last non-industry job?
Server at P.F. Chang's just after college graduation from The Ohio State University.
First record ever purchased?
Fleetwood Mac "Rumours" and R.E.M "Automatic For The People."
R.E.M. with Luscious Jackson in 1995
Favorite band of all-time?
Toss-up between Oasis, Joy Division, New Order and Depeche Mode.