10 Questions with ... Tonya Hernandez
March 21, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Became involved with Spring Arbor University Radio my freshman year of college, and then worked at a few radio stations in Southeast Michigan. She returned to SAU Radio in Summer 2010 as PD.
1) What was your first job in the industry? Did you have any early mentors?
My first job was part-time "Producer" as I patched in Detroit Tigers games and pushed a lot of buttons so that the local commercials aired correctly, and of course, the ID. An early mentor was one of my high school teachers. She pushed me to apply for the job. She was dating the PD and knew he needed dependable workers. It was my first radio gig and I was hooked.
2) If you were just starting in radio today, and you knew what you know now, would you continue forward? Why?
Probably not. I would have been a teacher. I always heard how bad teachers had it and thought it was the worst paying job with the least amount of benefits, yet I still wanted to pursue teaching. After getting a full-time job in radio that was six days a week and only four paid holidays a year, I realized teachers are full of it, compared to radio!
Actually, it's not the teachers' fault; they don't know any better. I probably would have stuck with my first career idea of becoming a teacher and turned out just like them. Instead, I put in my time (five years at six days a week and sometimes Sunday, missing lots of family activities and birthdays), and now I'm a PD with much more flexibility. I think I'm finally to a teacher's salary with similar time off if you don't count Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Winter break, Spring break, Summer break (oh crap, I think I'm going to quit my job and go back to my first idea of being a teacher again!). Obviously I do what I do because I love it, NOT because of any perks.
3) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Our station HOME.fm plays "Music that makes you feel good!" which is vague. But we back up that slogan with a variety that is not found elsewhere. We will play a Jack Johnson song next to a Matthew West song. We blend Christian music with non-Christian music and package it for everyone. Also, we will play that Jack Johnson song but not his other one based on lyrics alone.
For songs to make it on our station, it's not about whether it is charting or the artist has a label. It is because 1) it makes you feel good and 2) it is suitable for little ears. And that means more than just there are no curse words; it means no sexual innuendos or references to compromising situations or drugs. It makes programming a challenge sometimes, but fun. It's like a treasure hunt for me sometimes. And I always think about my niece or nephew when I pick out a song; I know their mom will love and be okay playing in front of them.
As for our other station, 89.3 The Message, we are a little more traditional in the music we select. We play only Christian music and try to lean a little softer than other CHR stations.
4) What does Christian radio need to do to break through to a mass audience on a more consistent basis?
Interesting question. What do you mean by mass? Are we talking secular? If so, better music. People not looking for the Gospel will accidentally find Christian stations by good music, equitable to what they hear elsewhere.
5) What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
"Get out of your own way." I constantly find myself doing things the hard way only to realize I'm struggling with something that could have been avoided. I've had to quit being so worried, quit letting fear drive my decisions and just go with what my head knows and my heart wants. If I let my fear get in the way, I find I'm reacting more and enjoying less.
6) Who are some of your favorite on-air personalities?
Hmmm, Brant Hansen and a few other local morning show guys in the Lansing to Toledo markets
7) Who inspires you personally, spiritually and/or professionally?
My husband. I know it sounds odd, but I aspire to be the kind of wife that he deserves including a woman of integrity at church, home, office and community. It is through my devotion to God and my commitment to the Mr. in my life that I strive to be excellent in all things including my profession.
8) If you could have any other job outside radio or the music industry, what would it be?
A TEACHER! [wink] Perhaps an event coordinator. I am one pretty much already but I'd really go all out since it would be other people's money I'm spending, not the radio station's!
9) Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without:
Duh, coffee! That HAS to be the #1 radio answer. But on a deeper level, a smile. Smiles from my husband, co-workers, family, those are what I look forward to throughout the day.
10) What music (Christian or mainstream) currently has your ear?
One Republic. I wish I could play more of their stuff but they have some questionable lyrics. I'm also REALLY loving Chris August's stuff right now as well as Sanctus Real.
1) Do you read everything or nothing? Magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc.
Magazines, newspapers, blogs, Facebook posts, MSN/Yahoo articles, and MANY other newsletters subscriptions. It's hard to read it all, so I browse a lot. But the ones that catch my attention get a full read and usually a mention in my show. And, SHOWPREP, SHOWPREP, SHOWPREP!
2) Cat or dog person?
Hmmm, dog, even though I don't think I ever want one for myself. I'm in radio; I'm not home enough. [wink]
3) Describe your favorite meal.
Steak, whether it is with potatoes, in a Japanese stir-fry, or shredded in a sandwich. Mmmmm beef.
4) If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you and why?
Tim, my husband, because Paul wrote about companionship and I'd rather be stranded with someone so when we get off the island someday, I'd have someone to reminisce with. Also, three large cases of those little drink umbrellas so I can really live it up like I'm vacation with a coconut drink with umbrella in it. It's a perception thing: being stranded wouldn't seem so bad if I could treat it like a vacation. And the third thing would be, shoot, I have no idea.