10 Questions with ... Nate Deaton
July 17, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at KSJO (92.3) San Jose as a promotion department intern in 1984. Became Promotion Director in 1985 and then went to do Entertainment and Promotions at the Santa Clara County Fair from 86-92. Started at KRTY in 1994 as the promotion director and have been GM since 2004.
1) So, how many years have you been at KRTY now and what's next for the station? Anything exciting in the works?
I have been here 17 years, which sounds like a lot, but I am not even in the top 5 of our employees. Julie Stevens, Gary Scott Thomas and Tina Ferguson are all 20+ years.
I guess the next thing is once again making our little signal as big as it can be to cover the entire SF Bay Area now that we are the only station again. KBWF was the 4th station in San Francisco to go away and we have to do our best to serve as much of the region as possible.
I would say our biggest excitement is bringing new artists to our listeners by constantly booking the Rodeo Club. We average about 25 shows a year and so far this year we have had 17 so we are right on pace.
2) How did you get your first gig in radio?
When I went to San Jose State (and I am pretty sure it is still true) in order to graduate with a degree in Mass Comm you had to do an internship. I first applied at HP, who in 1984 was a much smaller company and they turned me down. I then applied and got the job at KSJO. Best move ever, except maybe for the missed stock options.
3) What do you remember most from your first years in radio? Was anything a big surprise to you and what kinds of things have stayed with you through the years?
I remember how magical it was to create an idea, advertise it on the air and then have people show up and have a great time. Or play a song and have people sing it back a few months later. That is one of the big thrills still with new artists in the club.
When I went to KSJO in 1984 it was a Metal station and I think the biggest surprise was truly how much a radio station could be a part of the listeners lives. It is still, to this day, in Country, such an integral part to peoples lives we all have to remember how special we are to the listener.
4) You seem so passionate about the Country format, did you always listen to Country or what was on the radio growing up?
I never listened to a Country song until 1986 (Guitars and Cadillacs had to be the coolest thing I'd heard) I grew up on rock and metal, but really today's Country sound is pretty similar to that 80's rock. Julie Stevens has been a great mentor to me over the years and has taught me to appreciate the history of Country.
I love music and am very passionate about song writing and there is no format today that does what we do with lyrics.
5) How do you feel is the best way to stay in tune with what your listeners really want to hear?
Listen to them. We do that in several ways. Like I mentioned we do 25 live shows a year and I go to every single one of them. I stand in the same spot out in the house and listeners know they can talk to me about the artist. (just not during the set, haha).
We do a live show on Tuesday noon where we play four new songs and solicit input.
We have listeners sit in on our real music meeting. I have a panel of about 8-10 people who rotate through our music meetings. I have met them over the years at shows. You can't apply, you have to be picked.
I answer every single email we get from listeners and we always ask for their opinion. The nice thing is in this format, if you ask a listener what they are thinking they will tell you. Anyone who has heard our Tuesday show can tell you that.
6) Speaking of you loving Country music, what new acts are you into right now? Predict the "next big thing" for us.
If I made any kind of a list I would most likely leave someone deserving out. But I think what happens live is the best indication. (Jason Aldean, Eric Church and Luke Bryan were tearing up clubs and opening slots before they exploded) So the best live acts I have seen this year are Sunny Sweeney, Eli Young Band, Brett Eldredge Thompson Square, Ashton Shepherd and JT Hodges. Not a bad list of the next big thing!
7) What record has surprised you most this year?
The only real surprises have been records that did not work. I think Randy Montana "1,000 Faces" was a hit record. It tested great for us. So is Josh Turner "I Wouldn't Be A Man." But the biggest single hit record that wasn't was James Wesley's "Real." It was huge here. One day somebody will go back to that song and it will be his "Voices"
There have been some disappointing releases from superstars, but I think Kenny Chesney gave us a great album as a superstar.
8) I know giving back is important to the station- tell us about your biggest causes and brag a little on KRTY's fundraising efforts.
Most of the industry folks know our Sales Manager Tina Ferguson. Her sister Mimi passed away from breast cancer 6 years ago and we have adopted that charity as our own. We do the AVON Walk For Breast Cancer here each of the last 7 years. Tina started it by herself and then she created a KRTY Team. The team is over 60 members and this year will raise over $150,000. The last two years we have been the number one team in the San Francisco Walk. It is very important to us and our listeners.
We are locally owned and operated, we still run real PSA's in hours that people listen and all of the money we raise and events we promote (including AVON) stays in the Bay Area.
9) You have met and interviewed a lot of artists over the years- can you tell us about a couple of your favorite moments?
Everyone has a Garth story and mine was at CRS when he looked at my name tag and said, "KRTY? You guys have a triangle logo, it has always been one of my favorites." I did not have a stitch of logo wear on. Then the next time he was in town he said the same thing.
There is a story about me saying to Jake Owen on his radio visit something to the effect of "You're not gonna play that piece of crap Yee Haw are you" but that story is really old now.
Tina and I got a great tour of a brand new tour bus by Taylor and her mom. That was pretty special
But, there is no question that my favorite moments have been listening to complete albums with Brad Paisley. Unforgettable experiences all of them.
10) Having worked in the San Jose market your entire career, if you could pick another market to work in for a year, which one would it be?
I'm not sure I could, but I think it would be interesting to see what being a hometown station to all artists would be, so I would pick Nashville.
1) What's the best meal in San Jose?
Veal Parm at Original Joe's, with a side ravioli and a piece of cheesecake for desert. The finest anywhere ask Chris Palmer.
2) What would be a fantasy job for you 'outside' of the industry?
Two weeks ago I would not have known, but after vacationing in Hawaii recently I have decided when I retire I am going to a tourist area and be a hotel concierge. But I promise to not send anyone to a cheesy luau.
3) What is your favorite place to travel and what should we see there?
No question to anyone who knows me-Vegas and any kind of table where the cards or dice are hot. Some of them you can even get bacon and eggs delivered if you want.