10 Questions with ... Brian Henderson "Brian Black"
September 29, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WSUN (97X)/Tampa, WWGR (Gator Country)/Ft. Myers, and KZRK (Rock 108)/Amarillo.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I have always been in love with radio; growing up military I listened to Armed Forces radio on Okinawa. The local jocks didn't mind that I bugged them and even threw me a birthday party at the station when I was 12. I was hooked from that moment.
2. What led Radio Yakima to sign on 106.9 X-FM?
Dude, our owner Jim Ingstad is awesome. We have a group of really talented programmers in Yakima, a lot of us from big markets, and Jim and the management team really look to capitalize on the strengths of each individual. I was APD/Afternoons for the country station, but my extensive rock background eventually led to conversations about holes in the market. For 10 years this market didn't have a Classic Rock station, but last fall we changed that with KRSE. This year Jim brought in the market's first HD transmitter and had the ingenious idea to combine a couple of channels with FM translators. With our active competitor jumping on Classic Rock and adding artists KRSE owned like Boston, Cream, Thin Lizzy, etc. we looked closely at what Yakima listeners were missing and that was Alternative. We signed on X-FM on Aug. 26th and the reception has been tremendous.
3. How would you describe the music and imaging on X-FM?
I'd say we are somewhere close to a rocking California alternative with the sensibility of The End in Seattle. We play Florence + The Machine, but we haven't forgotten Rage Against the Machine. The imaging is voiced by Dan Stone, who just nails the personality with his delivery and I shape the production a lot of times based on his improve. The imaging is evolving; I am actively looking for a female voice to use as well. I use Ann Dewig with Doug MacAskill for KRSE and really believe female imaging stands out and cuts through to catch listeners' attention. Unlike other rock stations, we craft our presentation without misogynistic stereotypes and really pay attention to our female audience.
4. What is the station's coverage area as a translator signal?
It's really not a bad signal on the translator, but mainly limited to the "in-town" crowd due to some of the local geography. Still, I can hear it a good 30 miles south of town. We do push the HD Radio channel though; alternative music was made to be heard in HD! Our HD channels are amazing.
5. How are you getting the word out on 106.9 X-FM?
I actually launched the social media promotions ahead of our "on-air" debut, making our Facebook and Twitter profiles public a few days ahead. I had a local sign shop make up a dozen road signs (about double the size of a political sign) and created Vines of the signs being placed all over Yakima. I posted the Vines to Twitter and Facebook, really raising the question, "What the hell is up with all these X's showing up all over town?" The signs had nothing but the "X" from our logo on them with our Twitter handle on the corner.
6. What would an outsider find most surprising about the Yakima radio market?
Aside from the fact we have HD Radio stations, I think people would be surprised with the local beer scene. People outside of Washington think Seattle represents all there is to know about the state, but aside from the tech industry agriculture is the state's big economic driver. One of the biggest crops here in the valley is HOPS. We grow the hops, we brew the hops, and we have a good time drinking the results. I lost count of the local breweries. Did I mention this is wine country? We grow the grapes, we stomp the grapes, and we have a good time drinking those results. So come prepared to drink.
7. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
When it comes to in-person, on-the-street presentation, my whole perspective is probably contrary to most rock programmers. I have five daughters that consume music as ravenously as I do, but they are totally inundated with misogynistic garbage. I don't allow Babe of the Day click bait on the website nor do I produce any imaging that objectifies women in any way. My main goal is to provide a product on the air that not only the mechanic down the street can enjoy, but one that he can drive around town with the kids in the car and not worry about switching stations because somebody spent too much time watching Private Parts wishing they were Howard Stern. I worked for a PD at a past station in another market that used to have female listeners come in the studio and donate panties and then hang them all over the studio. That kinda crap doesn't fly around me.
8. What is it like working for Radio Yakima?
Always interesting, that's for sure. Having worked for big corporations that were completely clueless, it's nice working for a small "mom and pop" company that listens to the local programmer. X FM is a prime example of that relationship, where an idea is mulled over and executed over time through actual communication.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______________?
A big glass of Texas Sweet Tea.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I used to commute two hours each way for a four hour part-time radio job on a country station, just to be on the air. And I'd do it again!
What are your hobbies?
Fishing, kayaking, trolling on Facebook.
Last non-industry job?
Graphic Design and Newspaper layout
First record ever purchased?
Michael Jackson "Thriller"
Favorite band of all-time?
Bob Marley And The Wailers