10 Questions with ... "Nerf" Jeb Gudas Freedman
October 18, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Van Driver for KROQ, Personality at KBLT in Silverlake, Board Opp/Promo Assistant for KTCL... all the way through the ranks to now.
1. You've been at KTCL for 17 years and the last 10 years as PD. What are you most proud of?
That's tough... there's a lot. Getting #1 in every demo last year was something. I believe we were the first Alternative station to do that in the PPM era. We really helped the Colorado music scene in the last 17 years. From The Fray to Breathe Carolina, 3oh!3, to Churchill to Nathaniel Rateliff And The Night Sweats, 888 and a ton more... we feel really good about that. Also we created a holiday! March 3rd each year is #303Day in Colorado where we celebrate the state! Everybody wears Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies, CU, CSU stuff etc. It's a big deal!
2. Congrats on the station's stellar in ratings in Denver! It's rare that an Alternative is the No. 1 station overall in a market in the Nielsen Radio Ratings. KTCL has accomplished this feat multiple times, including back-to-back August and September '16 PPM Monthlies. Why do you feel KTCL is winning in the Denver Ratings?
I think its a few things. 1) I have the greatest staff. Awesome professionals and really awesome people! 2) We listen to our audience. We engage them any way we can to get feedback on our music and we follow their lead. I hear people try to push their audience (like adding a guitar edged song as a "balance record") but if our audience doesn't ask for it, we don't push it. 3) We aim to be part of the community. By that I mean we're local and you can tell but also we don't talk down to the audience. The "Kind-of-a-big-deal" attitude in local media needs to die. No one buys that anymore. We make fun of ourselves constantly. We're part of the community.
3. Give us the 411 on the station's music and events.
The station's music is really listener driven and could come from anywhere. Our two most spun songs of 2016 are from unsigned acts (sorry record industry). We listen to everything we're sent and more. When we find a diamond in the rough, or surrounded by gold for that matter we put it in front of the people that listen to the station. We engage our audience constantly about what's working for them and what peaks their interest, and program accordingly. Traditionally we lean a little more female than most Alts, so we sound a bit Pop-Ternative.
We're event heavy and highly promotionally active. We have a Halloween event coming up that is new this year featuring Robert DeLong. Then Not So Silent Night on December 2nd with Empire Of The Sun, Kaleo, Strumbellas, Jr. Jr., and 888. Then Hometown For The Holidays on December 17th at the Summit Music Hall. 303 Day (March 3rd) at nine different locations around Colorado. Keggs and Eggs 12 on March 17th. Then Big Gig at Fiddlers in July. In September we partner with Riot Fest as well. That plus a ton of smaller events in between those tent-poles. Busy!
4. You're extremely passionate about the music and take great pride in breaking new artists in Denver. Tell us about how you discovered 888 and how they became huge on the station?
888 is a great band! All we had to do is play them. They are another success story from our Hometown For The Holidays program. We're about to open for submissions in this year's HTFTH. We have a big meeting with managers, recording studios, labels, staff and listeners, and listen to 100+ submissions. We pick 10 and rotate them all on-air in December (when we're in the Holiday book). They each get like 3-5 spins a day for a week. Meanwhile, we survey our regular music rater database and they pick a top 3. Those 3 play live at the Summit Music Hall where we announce the #1 band. The live crowd awards a live prize of $1,000 as well. 888 was #1 and took the live prize last year. One of their prizes is to play at NSSN! Past winners include The Flobots, Tickle Me Pink, The Epilogues, Air Dubai, Churchill, AMZY, and 888.
5. How would you describe yourself as a programmer?
6. What is the most challenging part of your job?
I collect titles like Pokemon. I've got piles of them, and I still do all those jobs. I guess until the wheels fall of the cart in one of those roles I'll just have to be spread thin.
7. What do you love most about working for iHeartMedia?
LOTS of things! I used to be really critical of the company and a chronic naysayer but in the last few years my attitude has changed. In the Clear Channel days, the company was afraid of its own size, and afraid to show some swagger. Those days are GONE! iHeartMedia is proud of the massive noise we make. Proud of our innovations. Proud of our role in the music community worldwide. Proud of our influence on culture in our communities. We're proud of the leadership role we play in the media. What's not to love?
8. How do you feel about the current state of the Alternative format?
As the guy that programs Punk Tacos, I do hope that more gritty edgy music one day comes back into style, but I don't focus on that. The cool thing about our format is its plasticity. Right now "Alternative" means synth, upbeat often dancy songs, and no-guitar. Three years ago it was much more folky. Three years from now... who knows!? The cool thing is whatever progressive cutting edge music for the young might sound like, we as a format can play along.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
Coffee. I used to drink a local brand called Danger Monkey but they changed the blend and now I'm not as into it. I need a new jam. Any suggestions?
10. Tell us about your typical workday at the station, including your other iHeart duties.
Oh boy... I get in early, work out in the gym downstairs. Come up, check email then usually bounce into a few meetings. Eat a pile of lettuce at my desk for lunch. Call people to talk about records and book bands for various shows on various stations throughout the state and some for clients and partners. I average about four brainstorming sessions a week. Listen to music at my desk while doing all the other stuff. Touch base with Jim Lawson, Ryan Clune, and Tim Hager on projects past-present-and-future. Gather copy for 7-9 endorsement spots and hit the studio at 3pm. Do as much of my shift live as my other jobs will allow. Make a last round of phone calls on my commute home. Dinner, put 3 kids to bed, clean up. Hit the laptop and work for another hour or two and pass out. Easy-peasy lime-and-squeezy.
Take us back to the story on how Jeb Freedman became known as Nerf?
It was a college nickname. I owe it to the honorable Benjamin Franklin Society at Whittier College. Starting at KROQ as a van driver that wanted to be on the air in the Jed The Fish era, I knew they wouldn't have a Jed and a Jeb on the air at the same time... I had to go with my nickname.
What radio station did you listen to growing up in Littleton, Colorado and what do you remember most about the station?
I listened to Active Rock KBPI and KAZY which in many ways became one station along the way. Also The Fox. KTCL at the time didn't hit the southern suburbs very well. Whenever we'd go up north you'd start to pick it up and it was like hearing Radio Free Europe from Occupied territory. It felt a bit like an unfamiliar, banned transmission. COOL but foreign and dangerous.
What is your typical weekend like for you with your kids and wife?
Let your dad-nerdiest imaginations run wild! Lots of playdates, work around the house, taking the family trickster to Bed Bath And Beyond... except after the kids go to bed often Dad goes to a show to see up and coming bands. I don't sleep much.