10 Questions with ... Matt Stockman
March 25, 2013
1. Brief history/synopsis....where you were born, schools, current family, etc.
I was born in Urbana Il., Jan 1965, and raised around the Chicago area, in St. Charles, IL.. I graduated from Illinois State University in the 80's with a degree in Mass Communication, even though I got through school on a percussion scholarship. My wife Juanita and I have 5 kids, Chase (28), Channing (22), Mattie (16), Cole (14) and Macie (13).
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?
A few things- my high school guidance counselor kept telling me I should try radio, simply because my voice was lower than everybody else. Also, a guy named Peter Dean (WCLR Chicago) was a friend of our family, and growing up, I went to hang out in the studio a few times to watch him do his show. After I got to college, my plans changed a bit from a desire to be a studio musician to pursuing a career in communication. At about the same time I got a part time job spinning American Top 40 at the local CHR station. I pretty much fell in love with radio then.
3. What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of?
That's a little tough to answer, only because it's difficult to define 'successful'- There have been some moments that have been very meaningful to me, and I think to our listener as well... For instance, the morning of September 12, 2001; introducing a guy and girl to each other on the air and one day about a year later celebrating their wedding; and most recently watching and listening to how our on-air team here at KCMS/Seattle ministered to our listener the day of the school shooting in Newtown, CT. For me, successful on air work is more about making small, creative and meaningful connections in each break, and less about making one big splash.
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep? How do you prepare?
First, I try to be good at observing what things are happening around me that are universally relevant and meaningful, even though they may not be overly profound or spiritual. I think through things that may seem a little quirky to me, that in reality we all share in common. (for example, do you know that almost every one of us is a 'pen snob'? Our life just doesn't feel as complete if we don't have the right pen!) We have some of the finest air talent in the country on our team, so we talk a LOT about good on air content. Most of the great stuff really ends up being a collaborative effort. Other than that, Siri on my iphone helps me remember stuff that pops into my head at the most inopportune note-taking times.
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
Without a doubt, it's staying on top of latest ratings trends analysis, and the complications with radio programming in a PPM world. There are 2 good things about this predicament- First, it's that all of us are in the same boat- every station, in every market that has switched to PPM from Diary has had to re-learn the way to be successful in this new day simultaneously. So how you fare has a lot to do with what training you're getting and how smart you're thinking. Second, there's a lot of assistance and resources available for you, if you look for it.
6. Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
First, I would say our GM, Stan Mak. SPIRIT 105.3 has faced some challenges in the past few years, and I can tell that Stan's wisdom and steady attitude are really what helped the team 'weather the storm'- that quiet confidence is very inspiring and motivating to me. Next, a long time mentor and friend, Tom Atema. I worked for Tom for years in NC, and he has been an instrumental counsel to me personally and professionally more times than I could begin to count. He's got great instincts and always offers fresh perspective for me no matter what I'm thinking about. Finally, radio industry vet Tommy Kramer. Tommy was my talent coach for a long time, and really opened my eyes about how to think like our listener, which made radio great fun for me all over again. His willingness to not settle for anything less than my absolute best became a real driving factor to me then, and actually still has that effect on me today.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
For the CCM format, it's being relevant and meaningful to our listener. Sure, being certain that you're playing the right songs is important, but, the recent success of KCMS is due in a large part to the fact that every moment, between every song, we try to be as engaging as we can be with one listener at a time. We're really thankful that our listeners give us a lot of listening- simply because our air talent have a desire to say something of relevance and importance to our listener, EVERY time they open the mic, even when it's over a :07 song ramp.
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
Again, I think this depends a little bit on what you think 'successful' is- Some station promotions are great for community impact, but not particularly strategic to increase occasions or cume. Others are successful because they create more listener appointments or TSL. Some of my favorites include our current SPIRIT Secret Sound promotion... Listeners have 4 opportunities every weekday to identify the secret sound and win an increasing amount of money. This sounds great on the radio, and our air talent really do a great job of building excitement with it. More on the community impact side, when I was with WMIT in North Carolina, we planned 1 day every year where we focused on a county in the listening area that had been hit particularly hard by the down economy. Our WHOLE staff spent the entire day and evening in the county, meeting listeners, visiting businesses, giving out free resources, and broadcasting from various points in the county, culminating with a free concert for listeners that evening. The chance to 'come along side' our listeners in that county, and show them we care are days that I will always remember, far more than any flashy contest or big concert giveaway.
9. How do you combat the iPod/satellite/online option listeners have today? What are the steps to compete?
A few things come to mind- First- going back to the answer to question 7-you combat your listeners move to the iPod/satellite with air talent that are compelling and meaningful. One of the main reasons our listener comes to our station is for companionship with a like-minded person, so our air talent have to be great at telling the listener stories that communicate that they're more alike than they first thought. Second, by staying engaged in the community. Third, by meeting our listener online-aggressively developing a great mobile app, and strategically adding content and interaction to our digital platform.
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?
For aspiring PD's: Learn all you can about your listener- what's important to her and how she thinks. Be vulnerable to your listener and your staff. Study all you can about PPM. Think about your digital platform as an equal partner to your radio station. Never settle for 'good', accept only 'great'. Surprise your listeners with great customer service. Invest in research. Celebrate creativity and innovative thinking from your team. For Air Talent: Get a coach, either your PD, or someone from outside. Every top athlete has one... so should you. Be the same person on the radio you are in real life.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air?.....
There's just so many... I can't remember the particular word, but some word I was trying to say in some live copy just didn't come out, and what did come out sounded dangerously similar to something that wasn't particularly 'family-friendly'. Oops!
2. Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
Shredded Wheat, Bullwinkle. Five Guys.
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
I share John 3:16 one more time, and how the truth in it can change your life for eternity. I mean, isn't this why we do what we do?