10 Questions with ... Justin Tyler
September 8, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I've been in programming management since 1999 with stops throughout the country including Fort Myers, FL, Springfield, MA, Northern New England, and here in Northern Colorado. I've had programming and management experience in all formats and am the Operations Manager for four stations here with Townsquare Media while the Brand Manager for 94-3 The X and Colorado's New Country K99.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I became interested in radio when I was very young. It actually started when I would be listening to "Matty In The Morning" on Kiss 108 in Boston and how I wanted to be a personality like him while being able to play my own music. When I was 12 years old, I would take my Fisher Price Boombox, put it out my bedroom window, and play mix tapes that I put together all afternoon. When one of my Mom's friends said that she "loved the station" we were listening to, and my mom stated it was just me playing music, I knew this was the job I wanted. I tried both television and radio throughout high school and decided that radio was really the career I wanted to focus on.
2. What led to KMAX flipping from Maximum Rock to Alternative as "94.3 The X Front Range Alternative?
We did some research of the Northern Colorado marketplace done by the great staff at Coleman Research, and found that there was a hole in the marketplace for the type of Alternative that we are delivering to listeners. With the stations previous incarnation, it was a good station but just wasn't gaining traction in the last few years that it was around. With the Alternative hole in Northern Colorado, we decided that this was the best way to go and I have a staff really working hard to make it all happen for the station.
3. What does everyone need to know about the station?
That it is FUN! From the imaging to the personalities, we've decided to make this an Alternative station that blends perfectly into our market and can be part of our listener's lifestyles. We've also looked at the '90s Alternative and 90's Grunge and said to our listeners, "THIS MUSIC IS AWESOME"...and it needs to be treated that way. The '90s were a great era for the format and I feel like too many stations are ignoring it. We have wrapped our arms around it and exposing it again for our listeners.
4. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
I love to be able to let my personalities be...PERSONALITIES. That's why they are hired, correct? Radio is still the top medium today, and one of the reasons why we are is because of the people that we put in between the songs. As a programmer, I have always told myself to listen to my staff and let them take chances. If they want to try a bit, break, or feature for the first time...let them try it. It could be a monumental success! Yes, it may not work the first time. But you know what the beauty is of our business? If it doesn't work the first time, we can go back to the drawing board and try something different. But you don't know if it will be successful unless you try it. I work with some of the BEST personalities in the business. And to keep their creativity cooped up is not the right way to program. If you give your staff the proper guidance and suggestions (and airchecking) you will still succeed even with those chances taken.
5. What makes the station unique?
The '90s! It sounds simple, but it's true. Like I said, I feel like some Alternative stations have turned their back on the great music from the '90s. My advice? PLAY IT. If you're trying to reach the core of your demo...think about what they listened to and how old they were in the 90's. Grab onto it and run. We've seen the response since we made the changes and that is what's making us unique in Northern Colorado. Plus, we can lock into local music properly and throw our support to the local bands and venues that keep the area vibrant. No one else can do that.
6. How do you divide your time between your duties as Brand Manager for Alternative and Country stations?
It's a balancing act but over the years I've learned what works (and doesn't work) with time management. Luckily, I have a staff on both stations that I know will get the job done while I am focusing on another project and that makes my managing much easier. Time management is KEY to programming these days, and I've told that to people getting into the business. That's the only way you'll succeed. And when you walk into your office each day, write down the three goals that you must accomplish that day and stay on focus. Having those goals makes managing multiple stations much easier and you can put your all into every project.
7. What do you love most about working for Townsquare Media?
Simply...they think about the future and are forward moving. As an owner and programmer in radio, you can no longer think that you can still "look at the big tower in your backyard" and build your future off that. The business is growing and is still very successful, but you need to start branching out into digital, live events, etc. to be at your fullest. Townsquare put together a plan from the beginning and stuck with it, and has such a bright future ahead because of it. Collaborating the digital into the radio station has made our on-air product much stronger and ties us more into the local community. To also be able to learn from someone like Kurt Johnson has been monumental to me. I've been managing for 16 years now but we are always learning each day. I've learned a lot since I got here and can't wait to be opened up to more.
8. What do you like best about living in Colorado?
What DON'T I like about Colorado...that would be the tougher question. It feels great to look at the Rocky Mountains every morning and see the snowcapped mountains even in August. The dry air...great communities. Plus, it is so active out here you can never say that you "have nothing to do." This has probably been the best move in my career and I look forward to being embedded in the market for years to come.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
My family. I'm a family guy and they've been by my side with everything I have seen and heard in the business, and the moves we have taken.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I am SUPER afraid of heights. I tried conquering it by driving up Rocky Mountain National Park and making it 11,500 feet. However, as soon as the trees disappeared and all I saw was open air...the drive ended then.
What are your hobbies?
Cycling (started doing that when I moved to Colorado) and I am a FOODIE. And I live in the perfect area for that.
Last non-industry job?
Working at Wendy's in Northern Vermont when I was in college. I learned there how to make a patty a perfect square...lol.
First record ever purchased?
Boston "Third Stage" --- I loved Boston growing up and still crank them up to this day.
Tiffany...had a crush on her in middle school
Favorite band of all-time?