10 Questions with ... Larry Mac
June 14, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started pretending I was a radio DJ when I was a kid in Cleveland putting shows on reel to reel. Started working in college radio at KASR at Arizona State University. Took a gig at an AM Country Gospel station when going to school, while interning at KSTM in mid '80s. Got hired at KSLX in Phoenix while in college before moving on to KUPD when my mentor Curtiss Johnson was PD. I was at KUPD on and off from 1987-2005. Worked at KUKQ with my good friend and mentor Jonathan L in early '90s. Also, worked at KZRX, and The Edge in Phoenix before moving to Area 108 (KVGS) in Vegas under JJ Jeffries in 2005, eventually becoming PD. Moved to Tucson in 2007 to work at KLPX. I've been programming KLPX since 2010, and was moved up to OM of both KLPX and KFMA just under two years ago.
1. What stands out the most from your early days in Alternative radio in Phoenix?
Jonathan L and I held our Music Meetings on the air live on the second version of KUKQ. It was a 3-hour live broadcast, which was then repeated two more times that evening and overnight. We called it the Monday Morning Music Meeting, and invited label reps, staff, and listeners to either call in or be there live to promote their songs, listen to music, and give their opinion of the songs being considered. On top of that, the live broadcast on Monday Morning had no Delay System, so it was literally anything goes language wise. It was crazy. Sometimes we would invite the bands to call in and work us their records.
2. What is it like working for Lotus Communications?
It is a great experience.
Our GM Ken Kwilosz believes in being very active in the community. We do lots of charity events and KFMA is really visible in Tucson! The company still believes in having people live in studio. Both my stations have full weekend staffs, and the listeners can actually talk to jocks that are local and live! It is very much like a family atmosphere here at Lotus.
3. How has KFMA's signal change from 92.1/101.3 to 102.1 a couple years ago impacted the station?
Even though I was in the building back then, I wasn't really involved with them at that point. But from what I can see, it has helped the ratings by making us stronger in areas of town that our target audience is located.
4. Explain KFMA's Rock 102.1 brand and what makes the station Alternative.
Rock102.1 KMFA is a "rockternative" station. As the format goes through its various phases and shifts, we have found that Tucson still likes the bands with guitars in the mix (i.e. STP, Tool, Metallica, 5FDP, BMTH, and Slipknot among others) along with the poppier stuff (Twenty One Pilots, PVRIS, Fitz & The Tantrums, Strumbellas). We ride the waves and the shifts of the format while keeping true to what our listeners say they want. We do lots of new music features ("Test Department," "Lopsided World Of L," "Meltdown," "The MP3 @ Three," "Our Favorite New Song Ever... Of This Week," among others. We are always exposing new music whether it is a cool new alt band, or a new rock artist. The listeners of Tucson can hear it here first! We even expose local artists of all varieties to the city with our Local Noize show, and a segment on "Shmonty In The Morning" where he has local artists play acoustic live on-air.
5. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
Hard working, passionate, and always looking for new fresh ideas. I've been called a workaholic from co-workers, family, and friends. I live and breathe my stations, and want to win!
6. What may surprise people most about KFMA?
That we are celebrating 21 years on the air this year.
7. Tell us about the station's signature events KFMA Day and Fall Ball.
KFMA-Day is our Annual Spring Festival. We host a battle of the local bands for a chance to open the festival. KFMA-Day started in 2000, and we have done 17 of them. It has drawn crowds from 13,000 to 30,000 depending on the lineup. Some of our past lineups have included 311, Metallica, System Of A Down, Chris Cornell, Sublime with Rome, Linkin Park, The Killers, Disturbed, Shinedown, 5FDP, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, & Incubus. That is of course just some of the bands that have graced our stage.
Fall Ball started in 2004, and we have hosted 12 of them so far. Last year we added a side-stage to showcase some of the baby bands out there. It has drawn between 7,000 to 13,000 people depending on the lineup. Switchfoot, Korn, AWOLNATION, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, Offspring, & Cypress Hill are just a few of the artists who have played the Fall Ball Music Festival.
Both festivals have become major events in Tucson and Southern Arizona. We have seen people attend from all over the world.
8. What is your favorite part of your job?
Watching the on-air and off-air talent on the station grow personally and professionally. Equal favorite part is watching the station grow and artists we play get to the next level of their career.
9. What do you like best about living in Tucson?
It's really community-oriented. It feels like the biggest small town in the country. The people here really care about this city. Great place to raise a family, and there is lots of culture here as well. Great entertainment, food, and nightlife!
10. What would surprise people most about you?
That's a hard question to answer because I think I am pretty much an open book. My longtime friends are probably pretty surprised what a family man I've become.
What are you most passionate about?
Besides loving radio and music (and being lucky it is my career), I am most passionate about my family!
What music are you listening to when you are not in work mode?
That's a hard question. It's pretty well known that I am a HUGE Pink Floyd fan, so I do tend to listen to some of their more obscure stuff when I want to just escape. What I listen to depends on my mood at the time. I have a huge music collection, and it is growing constantly. It really depends on what I am doing at the time. I tend to listen to a lot of down-tempo electronic chill music when I am just relaxing.