10 Questions with ... John Schroeder
July 28, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Promotions and on-air at WPGU in Champaign, IL while attending University Of Illinois. Advertising Internship at JAM Productions, Ltd. in Chicago and public relations internship at Edelman Public Relations in Chicago, non-industry Marketing and Sales Coordinator job with a now defunct Internet service provider/telecommunications company, a stint working for the family metal fabrication business in Chicago while doing weekends at WLUM in Milwaukee, and Promotions Director for FM 102/1 (and sister stations WLDB and WZTI) 2007-present. Definitely not the traditional path, if there is such a thing.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I became an avid radio listener when I was in high school and when I got to college I was looking to get involved in something extracurricular that was fun, and if it could help build my resume that would be a bonus. I saw a flyer in my dorm on a bulletin board for an open house at WPGU. They were recruiting new students and I thought working in promotions sounded like a blast and would be a good fit for me as a kid studying marketing. They brought me in and then I fell in love with radio over the course of my time there for the next few years.
2. What led you from WPGU to WLUM in 2007?
There was a 7 or 8 year gap between PGU and LUM for me. Although I had some success in non-industry jobs, my passion for radio and alt music never waned. I missed working in radio and music immensely, but had been too stubborn to leave Chicago. Jacent Jackson was familiar with my skill set and thought I would be a good fit for the direction he was taking FM 102/1 and brought me in to do weekends when he took the reins at FM 102/1 in 2006. When the incumbent Promotions Director left in 2007, I jumped at the opportunity to be the next Promotions Director and moved to Milwaukee.
3. What is it like working for Milwaukee Radio Alliance?
We're a bit of an anomaly. We are owned by two families that formed an LLC. It's nice to have the autonomy and the ability to make the vast majority of the decisions about what we do in house. We're not a large operation, but the small core group of people we do have are talented and passionate. Plus, we have good leadership at the top with Michelle.
4. What do you love most about your job?
My favorite part of the job is doing promotions with artists. I love being able to connect our listeners to our artists through some sort of unique experience and, in turn, artists to their fans. I enjoy being a liaison between the two. Music is powerful and these types of promotions do a lot for our brand and for promoting the artist. I think this is an area that radio truly excels at and it's the most fun part for me.
5. Tell us about your role as Promotions Director.
I'm a true hybrid. I wear a lot of hats, which I think is pretty standard for a Promotions Director. I put together all of our on-air and online promotions and giveaways, and I'm also responsible for everything we do on the street, the 300 events FM 102/1 executes each year, hiring our promotions staff and interns, and managing them. I'm the PR guy that writes all of our external communications and sends our press releases to All Access. I also work closely with our sales organization. I'm the main point of contact between programming and sales and have been known to go out on some sales calls from time to time to be the voice of the Promotions Department. I do this for the three stations in our cluster and I'm on the air five days a week.
6. What is the most challenging part of the job?
The most challenging part of the job is definitely the hours and deadlines. I typically work 60+ hours per week year round and atypical hours, so it can sometimes be difficult to maintain an ideal work/life balance. Ultimately, I love what I do and that goes a long way.
7. What makes FM 102/1 unique?
FM 102/1 is special because we create good radio (and online content) and we do it in our own way. FM 102/1 has its own identity, its own attitude, and we do a lot for our listeners. We're also accessible, real people who are active on the street and out where our listeners are on a consistent basis.
8. How would you describe your air shift on FM102/1?
Fast paced and informative with a sense of humor. I'm a music guy, so I talk a lot about that while making sure to be local. I don't take myself too seriously and that's consistent with our brand. No one at FM 102/1 does. I'm like your concert buddy on the radio, the guy you talk music with.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without __________?
CAFFEINE. I drink lots of pop, sugar free Red Bull, coffee drinks, etc. I'm a high energy person naturally, but it's nice to have some help.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
That I sleep. People seriously think I don't sleep because I'm always running around doing something.
What are your hobbies?
Fantasy football and running. I'm a football nerd and compete in several fantasy leagues each fall. I've run 5 marathons, but mostly do 10K and 5K runs these days.
Last non-industry job?
My father owns and runs a metal fabrication company that my grandfather started over 50 years ago. I took a few years to learn the business and did everything from purchasing to quality control to organizing the 50th anniversary celebration for clients, and had the opportunity to go into that line of work and eventually run the company, but learned that I'm not passionate about that business and to be successful doing that, you really need to be. I sort of knew this going in, but needed to be sure. No regrets.
First record ever purchased?
Run DMC - "Raising Hell" on cassette.
The World Series of Rock with Whitesnake, Great White, Skid Row, Bad English, and Hurricane Alice at Alpine Valley, May 26, 1990. Ironically, I won tickets from Z-95 in Chicago and got to meet all of the bands. My friend's Dad had to drive us to the concert because neither of us was old enough to drive. Everybody had a hair metal phase, right?
Favorite band of all-time?
The Smashing Pumpkins (the incarnations of the band from inception to December 2, 2000).