10 Questions with ... Matt Stone
September 20, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- XTRA (91X)/San Diego - APD/AM-drive
- KPRI/San Diego - PD/PM-dive
- KGBX/KKOA/KHBC/KTBH/Hawaii - OM/PD
- KRUZ/KBBY/Santa Barbara/Ventura - OM/PD/AM-drive
- WTMT/Asheville - PD/PM Drive
- WSMS/ Starkville, MS - PD/PM Drive
- WRRX, WMXZ, WJAD, WJAD, WGMR, WKBI
1. Not many folks go from APD/mornings at 91X/San Diego to OM of four stations in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. How did you land your current gig after deciding to move your family back to the East Coast?
I had reached a point where it was time to start looking for something closer to my family. I had been on the West Coast or Hawaii for almost 10 years and my son "wasn't seeing his grandparents enough." His words. I knew I had to do something, so I talked it over with Halloran and he was super understanding. I bounced from San Diego without a care in the world. I spent some time visiting family and friends while sending out some resumes to places on the East Coast that looked cool, one of them being a PD for an Active Rock in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I had worked in FWB back in '04 at the same 103.1 signal (it was a Modern AC back then). I enjoyed the area and my son's grandparents are right down the road in Pensacola. After talking back and forth with the GM and we worked out an Operations positon over the four station cluster along with programming the Active Rock and Adult Hits.
2. Several months after you joined Apex Broadcasting the stations are sold. What has been the biggest change shifting to Community Broadcasters and what does everyone need to know about the company?
There hasn't really been a big change. All the staff is still here. All the formats have stayed the same. The biggest change is the health insurance, I think. Ha ha ha. Community Broadcasters is a great company headed up by two radio professionals that truly love the business. The name of the company speaks to the way they like to operate. The communities they are in come first.
3. Let's shift the focus to WZLB (103.1 The Blaze). Tell us about why you transitioned the station from Active Rock to Alternative.
We had mild success as an Active Rock station, but it wasn't enough to make a dent in the market. We wanted a broader appeal. We made the change slowly. We didn't want to alienate the listeners that were fans of the harder stuff. We still play some Disturbed, System of A Down and Tool to keep that feeling. We also steer clear of the super Pop Alt titles. We bill the station as "The Rock Alternative." That speaks to what we do.
4. Give us the 411 on 103.1 The Blaze and what makes the station Alternative.
We are the most unique brand in the area. There is nothing like 103.1 in the market or in the nearby markets of Panama City Beach or Pensacola. It's different here. We have Bubba The Love Sponge holding down mornings. He is completely different than anything else you will hear in the mornings anywhere nearby. Musically, we may go from Bob Marley into Cage The Elephant and follow that up with MGMT. We are a true Alternative to the other local rock stations.
5. What features are you running on The Blaze and how aggressive are you with new music?
My favorite thing that we are able to pull off is Commercial Free Monday, 24 hours of no commercials every week is a huge point for us. I mentioned Bubba In The Morning. Yisa hosts middays and has a double shot lunch where we get to dig a little deeper in the library and play songs from core artists that you may not have heard in a while. We do Tough Love with Siri in PM drive and that has become one of our most popular features. There is a comedy feature in the 6p hour. And every weeknight at 11, we have the 11 O' Clock News with Chelsea. A full hour of nothing but new music. Speaking to the second part of your question, we hit the songs that are not on the chart yet with the 11 O' Clock News. We have a very contemporary approach to the programming here. When we feel like a song is a hit, we play it even if we are out on our own for a bit. Holy White Hounds is a great example. We really think that is a great song and championed it.
6. What may surprise people about Fort Walton Beach?
You can move here and buy a house on or near the beautiful sugar white beaches for less than a small condo in most cities.
7. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
Honest and Aggressive. I don't mind stirring it up with the competition. We run liners right now calling out our closest completion on their spot loads. I like to think I live the lifestyle of my station. I am a music fanatic which makes me spend extra time going through music logs. I still worry about flow and texture. A long time ago someone told me the most important part of any programmer's job is ultimately what you are putting out of the speakers. That is what is most important to me.
8. What is the most challenging part of the job?
Time management. In a small market like this you have to wear multiple hats and somedays there are not enough hours in the day it seems.
9. Describe your typical weekday juggling four stations and your family.
Wake up at 5a. Walk the dog. Take the boy to school. Get ready for the day. Go over emails. Head to the office by 9. Then I try to get at least two hours at my desk to respond to emails and deal with any issues that arise. Social Media consumes a good bit of time as well. Keeping all pages updated with good content is always a challenge. Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Most days I sneak across the street to a little Taco Shop for lunch. Since moving here from San Diego, a good taco is always a winner. Then to the studio to work on imaging and production. I am on-air from 2-7. Luckily I get to go home after a long day and sit down and eat dinner with my family most days. Then if we watch a movie or a show, I pull out the laptop and work on music logs. Rinse and repeat.
10. What would surprise people most about you?
I have hobbit feet.
What are weekends like for you?
Family. Pets. Beach. Remotes. Boat. Naps. Lots of naps.
What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? HA! I am OM over four stations and PD of two. Hobbies. I try to get out to the water as much as possible.
What music do you enjoy listening to away from work?
I really spend a lot of time with different styles. My top three are: Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd, and Air.