10 Questions with ... Grayson Long
March 10, 2014
1. Brief History / Synopsis
I was born on a Sioux Indian reservation town in northeast South Dakota called Sisseton with a population of 2,300. However, my father was an evangelist so we traveled full time all over the U.S. where my dad would speak and the family would sing. Imagine the Partridge Family without the multicolored bus. I currently live in Denver, CO and married WAY up and have five wonderful children
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?
When I was a kid I always loved the radio from the perspective of talking to thousands of people but really only talking to one person. Because whenever I heard a jock I always assumed they were talking to me. My first radio gig was at a Christian college in North Dakota in 1988. There was a sign up in the school halls for a night show that needed someone. They also mentioned pizza, so as a very financially challenged student I jumped at the chance and started the "SAP Show" which was an acronym for the three guys on the show, Skippy, Ace and Paco.
3. What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of?
This question is more personal then and overall programing "star bit". I was doing mornings in South Dakota and I did a break where I was trying to do a French impersonation at the urging of my co-host Shannon. I did the impersonation (quite poorly as I recall) and we both were laughing at my lack of international speech. I got off the air and later that day I received a phone call from a gentlemen who in a broken voice told me that he was driving in his car that morning to end his life with the necessary tools in the car to accomplish this. He said he tuned into the show that morning for some reason, he heard the poor French accent and he laughed. He turned his car around and went back home to his family. Not sure where that would rank in an "air check" session for compelling break content but it had the most impact on me and a real life transition.
4. Most embarrassing moment on-air?
I was doing the morning show at WCIC in Peoria, IL with my co-host Debi McMorrow; I opened the mic for our break and opened my mouth to a rather boisterous unexpected burp. My eyes were wide and hoping Debi would say something and throw me a lifeline. All she did was laugh...........
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
Trying to not let the routine extract imagination and creativity. Regularly scheduled and impromptu meetings can sometimes bring about the seemingly mundane. I literally change my geography; I'll go to a coffee shop or other location to help spark ideas. I try to not let the normal become normal. It is much harder to pull yourself out of a cavern then to navigate around it before you fall in. I try my best to avoid the pitfall although not always successful at it.
6. Who do you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
There are so many people in this industry in both radio and records that have influenced me. I am grateful to them all as I've gained from knowing and interacting with them. Whenever you start naming names you ultimately leave out many deserving and noteworthy people. So my thanks to all who have either spoken into my life or lived out a life that I admire.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
This may sound a bit altruistic but I ultimately believe that the listener truly doesn't care if your show reaches 100,000, 10,000,000 or 100,000,000 people. What only matters to them is do you care about them and what is happening in their life? Is your show geared towards letting them know you want the best for them or is it about how great your bit was or how amazingly you tied your story into the song? These aren't bad things in and of themselves but rather an indication of how you really communicate to your audience. You don't need to be the world's greatest radio mind to tell when someone is about themselves and not you on the air. It's frighteningly easy actually.
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
WAY-FM Colorado covers a large area of the state with signals from Fort Collins through Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo so we have multiple signals and markets to reach. One thing we are doing here is a "Single Mother's Month" campaign that we do annually. We garner submissions from our listening family of those who know single mothers who need repairs to their homes but are not in a position to do this themselves. We then choose multiple locations and mobilize teams to go out and repair homes in great need for these single mothers. It continues to grow each year as many in our communities have caught the vision for this and now churches are involved in sending repair teams to partner with us. Bob Augsburg WAY-FM President has set the tone for our network with a vision for WAY-FM to "Live It Out" with our faith. We try to filter what we do through this verse. Hebrews 10:24 "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." (NLT)
9. What's the last book you read?
"The Art of Helping Others" by Douglas C. Mann. What a great book! To answer in short will greatly oversimplify because it contains so many layers. But, here is one thought that hit me square between the eyes....It is a challenge and call to be able to marry your creativity into a platform to help others. I'm doing the book a major disservice with that summation but that is one of the themes that really resonated with me.
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?
One of my favorite quotes is from screenwriter William Goldman, "Nobody knows anything.......not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one" My advice is to avoid anyone that says they have "all the keys and answers" in radio. They may have a ring of keys....but their cars fuel gauge, in all likelihood, is on empty.
1. Favorite breakfast food, cartoon character and fast food?
If my wife is reading this then its oatmeal and fresh fruit. If she isn't then it's a tie between Cap'n Crunch Berries and multi-grain Cheerios.
Flash, don't ask me why, really liked him when I was younger......but I'm horrifically slow whenever I run.
Since my oldest daughter works here I'm a fan of Chic-Fil-A, but the trump card is "In-N-Out" whenever I'm in California, Dallas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.
2. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
"Thank you" because I know that I'm asking for someone's time and attention every time I open the mic and for them to listen is a privilege so I'd simply say "thank you".