10 Questions with ... Chris Kelly
February 25, 2013
1. Give me a brief history/synopsis....where you were born & raised, schools, & current family
Born and raised in NE Oklahoma. My kids were third generation to go to the same school system. (My Dad, then me, then the kiddos). Started in radio when I was 13, and after graduating high school, went one year to college as a broadcast major and realized, I already knew what a microphone was, so I kept working. Working full-time in radio and going to college just was not for me. I would up my continuing education at the "University of Experience."
I've been married to my wife, Shelly for 21 years. We have three boys 17, almost 15, and 10. Other than 2 years in Oklahoma City (where I met my wife), I was fortunate enough to be employed with the same company for 16 1/2 years which allowed me to stay close to where I was raised. All three of my boys are now home schooled by my wife, who taught school for 11 years.
I'm looking forward to them coming up to the great NW permanently in May....since I joined the Fish in June, they have still been in Oklahoma, while I'm up here in Portland.
2. What was it that made you "catch the bug" for radio? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
I knew from a very young age this is what I wanted to do. It was playing my Dad's old records on my Mickey Mouse record player. While the other kids were doing regular kid stuff, I had the headphones on; listening to the radio and every piece of audio I could get a hold of. I remember practicing splicing tape with scissors and scotch tape at home.
3. What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of?
Wow...that is a tough one. Anything I've been a part of that helped others has been the best. Whether it was giving blood on the air, accepting donations for tornado victims in the Joplin area, or recently having our listeners help with supplies for kids, whose school burned down, that is where we can make a difference with the tools we've been given.
I do remember one time where I was able to call a pay phone in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater (before the days of having a delay on the air), and got your standard Welcome To New York phrase you can't say on the radio. Successful, no. Memorable, yes.
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep? How do you prepare?
Instant everything has its' advantages, it's all at your fingertips. Being a PD and air personality presents its' own set of challenges, but we as a team here at The Fish help each other. We have a staff that is plugged into what is going on in town; that is what is relevant to our listeners. That gives me the advantage of being last on the air during the day! I can recycle what they have been using! We all have our favorite sites to check too, but the best prep is done by those who are listening to us, and I love that they can provide that service to us!
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
Doing my "jobs" equally well. Who does not have more than one plate to juggle these days? Prioritizing and delegating to the people you trust to get the job done right is key. The emphasis of balancing work and family is great here at the Salem cluster in Portland.
6. Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
In the biz...John Frost has been a big influence to me for years now. As many know, John is so intuitive as it relates to what makes our format compelling. Plus, he has the whitest teeth in the world. Dennis Hayes, our GM, is one smart dude. He trusts his people, and lets them do their jobs. I love that. My father-in-law has been a huge influence in my spiritual journey and like John, challenges me to always look for better ways to look at something. My journey to Portland is so much a God thing. I have met people and developed relationships that came at the exact time I needed them.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
Developing a community and a sense of family. We need to meet the need that exists here in Portland. What we can offer and the potential relationship we have with our listeners is so different than anything else on the dial. We have been so conditioned to think that all we need to do is play the right songs and that is 90% of the battle. I submit that what we do between the right songs makes the difference between being a part of someone's life or being just a radio station that someone can take or leave.
8. Most successful station promotion ever.....details from start to finish?
Family Name Game, enough said.
9. How do you combat the iPod/satellite/online option listeners have today? What are the steps to compete?
It comes back to the relationship you forge with your listener. If you become part of the fabric of their lives, does it matter what the delivery method is? If she considers The Fish here in Portland an important fabric in her life, she can access us in many different ways. It's not a matter of combating with the options; it's making sure your product is right and making it available the best way for her.
10. Radio 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better at their craft?
Define your goal and who you are talking to, and then be relevant to them. Don't confuse that with creating relevance. Find out what they want and give it to them. Do your homework.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air....context and details please.
See #3 above. Mispronouncing "Willamette" would be a distant second. (ask someone from Oregon)
2. Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
- Nothing beats Oatmeal with plenty of Brown Sugar.
- Bugs Bunny...nothing ever gets by the silly wabbitt.
- Sonic. Not as many up here in the Great NW though.
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
Gotta Go. The Lord's calling. Does that need an explanation?