10 Questions with ... Chuck "DZL" Thompson
January 19, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WCHK/Canton, GA, WZGC/Atlanta, WKLS/Atlanta, WARQ/Columbia, SC, WPXY/Rochester, WKGS/Rochester, WIBT/Charlotte, WEND/Charlotte, and Premium Choice ALT & ACT
1. You've spent 10 years now in Charlotte and the last six at The End. What do you love most about your job?
As cliché as it sounds I love the people. Jack Daniel has been one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of working for. We'll get to that in a few. The air staff are all veterans and we all genuinely get along and even get together outside of business hours when we can.
2. Tell us about The DZL Drive Home weekdays.
PM drive time is a balancing act. Play the music. Stay focused on being LOCAL. Entertain, but don't intrude. I like talking about the day's events, but word economy is king. Tell a couple of jokes. Have an opinion. Have conversations not broadcasts. The greatest compliment I've ever gotten about my current show came from someone I really respect in the business. He said "...you sound like someone I'd want as my next door neighbor."
3. How do you prep for your show?
Prep happens a lot of ways for me. I always say "life is show prep." I send myself emails all the time about something interesting I saw or something I want to make sure I address. I use TV stations & newspaper web-sites for local news and stories. I use several music trade web-sites for artist prep. Being an MD helps a lot too. I'm constantly talking to labels and getting stories about their artists so being in the industry is a great source of prep too.
4. How many stations do you voice-track?
Currently, I am tracking middays on KIOZ in San Diego (Hey Shauna!) and doing PC Alternative (Hey John!) and Active (Hey Joe!) weekend shifts on 40+ stations across the country. Between the custom liners that each individual market sends me weekly, prepping for a San Diego show like I live there, and all the my day to day business at WEND in Charlotte I'd say I'm at my comfort level with voice tracking. I'm always open to exploring new options, but right now I have a healthy balance.
5. What is it like working for Jack Daniel?
I am so fortunate to work for one of our industry's best. I respect him tremendously. We've truly connected and because of that he gives me autonomy at WEND. On a professional level he's very smart, honest, direct and respectful. On a personal level he's compassionate and extremely caring about the people around him. I'm the father of a two year old little boy and one of the best qualities I've learned from Jack is how important it is to balance work life and family life. We're both a bit of work-a-holics and have to check each other now and then. It's great to have that. Otherwise we'd be working 16 hour days all week. Jack's a great father and husband... and now Paw Paw, again (Congrats Jack on your 3rd grandson!)
6. How would you describe yourself as a music director?
Honest. Up front. It's important to be polite too. Everyone has a job to do and I respect that. iHeartMedia has extraordinary resources available to its programmers. There is great communication between markets and brand managers. I talk to several programmers on a weekly basis just to check the temperature of certain records in their markets. I would say we're educated and calculated, but not afraid to make a gut call if we feel its right for Charlotte, NC.
7. What are music meetings like at The End?
Some of our best music meetings are impromptu listening sessions throughout the week. The "real" meeting is Monday morning. I prepare with as much information as I have available to me. I bring it all in to Jack's office and we have a conversation about where we're at and where the industry is at. (Shout out to Jack and Sarah Springer too!) I make my recommendations and we'll get the changes in by lunch time Monday.
8. What do you like best about living in Charlotte?
I love Charlotte! It's a beautiful, clean, modern city that's growing at light speed. Charlotte is constantly being ranked in the top 5 growing cities in the country for a reason. It can be as big of a city as you want it to be. We're a banking hub, home to Bank Of America and Wells Fargo. There's even a back-up stock exchange here in case New York goes down. Or you can drive 30 minutes north where you'll pass cows grazing on the farm on your way to the lake! We're 3 hours from the beach and 3 hours from the mountains. There is professional sports - including a certain football team that's had an incredible season! A major airline hub too. Direct flights are one of life's little "wins!"
9. Take us through a typical workday in your busy life.
I often use the phrase "white knuckle work days." It starts super early as anyone with kids knows. After I drop my son off at day care I typically get to the radio station by 8:30. I handle music logs, promo and sales meetings (I'm very hands on with local endorsement relationships) and all of the day to day business of the radio station. At some point right after lunch (at my desk) I shift my focus to my on-air responsibilities. It starts with updating my page on our websites, socials, then doing show prep. Once my VT marathon begins I try my hardest to be finished with my shows and local production by 6pm. Sitting at the dinner table with my family is very important to me!
10. 2015 was an historic 20 years for The End. What's on tap personally and professionally for 2016?
Surviving 20 years in this format is an incredible accomplishment and Jack Daniel has been at the helm for the entire ride. We're so proud of what he's done here! In my personal life I want to be the best husband and father I can be. I want to be "present." Professionally, it's all about growth. iHeartMedia is very big on development and I feel I'm on a great path in that regard. I see that continuing and growing in 2016. Locally, The End is turning 21... We're legal! We have some fresh ideas for NTR and some potential updates in the way we handle some of our signature events. We're challenging the whole staff and our partners to think differently in the way of events, promotions and marketing. Stay tuned for details!
Tell us about being a NASCAR fanatic and the other sports you follow?
Charlotte is the home of NASCAR so it's year 'round for us. I do several events with drivers and crew members throughout the year. A lot of the race shops listen to The End so I've developed relationships with the sport.
I am a HUGE fan of golf. My wife would use the word "obsessed." I use the word "passionate." I watch it... a lot. My recreational reading is about golf. I love to play. If I didn't work in radio I would like to work for the PGA. I'm just a huge sports nut in general. Go Dawgs, Go Braves, Go Falcons & Panthers (that's a tough one in Charlotte), Go Hornets!
What sort of things do you enjoy doing with your family on the weekends?
My wife's family lives in Charlotte so we spend a lot of time with them. It's so nice that my son has close family members here, which as we all know in our business is a rarity, so we soak up as often as we can. We love to travel. As I mentioned before, we're a 3 hour trip to the beach and we are beach people! Both of our extended families are all 3 1/2 hours from here so we try to see them as much as possible.