10 Questions with ... Parker
February 10, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started out doing nights and swing shifts at WJXQ here in Lansing around 1999. Bounced around the building a while before doing mornings on 92.1 The Edge (WWDX). Headed to Ft. Wayne in 2005 and co-hosted the TNT Morning show on WBYR with Turner Watson for 5 years. Moved to L.A. in 2010 and spent a year away from radio before coming back home to Lansing.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Radio is in my family. My Uncle Mike programmed a station in northern Michigan when I was a kid. He also hosted the morning show and I'd sit in from time to time. It was always easy to see that he loved his job. He told me, "Any job where you can come in and have a few laughs every day is a good one". He's still at WMJZ in Gaylord, MI. Still loves radio too. Any time I get negative about any aspect of the business, he's the first to defend it, and remind me how great it can be.
2. As a 15 year veteran of the Lansing radio market, what may surprise people most about the market?
Tough question. Only because most people I talk to seem to have us pegged. Good, hardworking people, toughened by the cold. Capital city. College town (Technically East Lansing is a different city, but its right next door). It's everything you would expect it to be in all the best ways, but no real surprises.
3. Why did the station drop The Edge brand and change to 94.1 WVIC?
Money. I could fabricate some elaborate dodge like "We wanted to re-brand to better reflect what the station had become." That would just be BS though. It was just money. We were paying to use "The Edge" and our company decided they didn't want to pay the monthly fee anymore. The call letters fit into the existing logo where it used to say "Edge" so that's what we went with. I wish it were more exciting than that.
4. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
I'm a jock who sort of fell into programming. Not a programmer who bangs out an air shift when they have the time. That's why I'm really big on pushing personality. The music part is easy. Anybody can figure out what songs are going to chart and throw them on the station. All the other stuff is where the skill comes in. Good imaging, promos, and jocks are the variables that elevate one station above another. I'm a big fan of keeping real live jocks in the studio. It makes a difference. The energy is just better. And that comes across on the air. I always say that if radio does ever die, it will have been a suicide. We're shrinking our own industry and nobody is fighting it. That has to stop.
5. What is the most challenging part of the job?
For me? The business stuff. I'm likely to drag my feet on anything that doesn't require creativity. Like I said before, I'm a jock by nature. Filling out paper work is torture for a guy like me.
6. What is most important to you when championing new music for WVIC?
Staying unbiased. Despite what I said about picking music being the easy part, a person who just throws in all the songs THEY like is going to ruin a station. I happen to like my format, but I see that as a disadvantage. It's too tempting to make the station your own personal jukebox, which would alienate a lot of people.
7. What makes the station unique?
The staff. For two reasons. The first being that we even have one. It's not big, but it's there. The second is that the people we do have put their mark on whatever they do. We have fun. Most stations can be summed up as Play song. Open mic. State interesting fact about song. Play next song." A lot of places seem to hire people with nice sounding voices, but don't care if those voices have a believable human being behind them. That's not us. I want people to be able to walk up to our jocks at a remote and feel like they are meeting up with an old friend whose likes, dislikes and opinions they know intimately. This station is a living breathing thing. Ten years ago that wouldn't have made it unique. It makes me sad that it does today.
8. Tell us about your venture to Los Angeles for improv comedy and commercial acting?
Ha! Calling it acting is a stretch. I was in a Pepsi Max commercial dressed as a clown as a favor to a friend. The guy who shot it was the producer of Everybody Loves Raymond though. We filmed it at his house and he and I sort of became friends, which is a cooler story than the commercial itself. Improv, on the other hand, I was REALLY into. I started doing it just for fun, and turned out to be pretty good at it. I took classes at The Goundlings and even though I had no real acting background I kept passing auditions to get into the higher ranks. It really pissed off the "real" actors who couldn't advance and were trying to do it for their career. A lot of notable people were instructors there. Jim Rash (Community) and Flo from the Progressive commercials. I didn't do radio out there though. Didn't have any desire to get into acting as a profession either. Pretty much lived life on vacation for a year. It was great.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
The gym. I'm not a muscle head or anything. I just like being active. It's what calms me down and keeps me sane. If I don't work out in the morning, people notice. I get cranky.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
My favorite musical is Mamma Mia.
What are your hobbies?
Soccer, hockey, disc golf. Don't get the wrong impression though. I spend plenty of time sitting on the couch playing video games too.
Last non-industry job?
I read text books onto tape for blind and dyslexic students at a community college. We labeled the tapes in braille, so I guess another interesting fact is that I can read braille
First record ever purchased?
"Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'em" by M.C. Hammer
R.E.M. There was a girl I wanted to meet there.
Favorite band of all-time?
That answer changes all the time. Today I'm going to say Reel Big Fish.