10 Questions with ... Jack Shell
November 27, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WXCL/Peoria (Country) Overnights 1993
- WKZW/Peoria (CHR) Afternoons/APD 1994-1997
- WWRM/Tampa (AC) Evenings 1997-1999
- WMHX/Louisville (Hot AC) Mornings 1999-2001
- WRQQ/Nashville (Hot AC) Evenings 2001-2002
- WYOK/Mobile (CHR) Creative Director 2003
- WSM-FM/Nashville (Country) Creative Director 2004-2008
- WKDF/Nashville (Country) Afternoon Drive 2008-2011
- WYCD/Detroit (Country) Middays/MD 2011-Now
1) Congrats on the job at WYCD and your early success there so far! How are you adapting to the Motor City so far?
Being a Midwest native, I am totally diggin' it. Detroit's a much larger version of my Peoria hometown. A tough, gritty, blue-collar, canned beer and pizza city. The people here are resilient, friendly, and they most certainly love their Country music. But there is so much to see and do here, great sports, restaurants, shopping, and beautiful parks. Do not be fooled by stereotypes, and bad press. Detroit's on the rise and is a wonderful community, and no more dangerous than Nashville, really.
2) Tell us about some of the exciting events and promotions that are up-coming at the station.
I'm still working on our Ten Man Jam - a ten-player acoustic show at the Royal Oak Music Theater in February. We'll be making official announcements on that show after the first of the year once we get all the acts locked down. Next up is our 'Young Country Night Before Christmas' also at Royal Oak in December. Gloriana, The Farm, Love And Theft, and Eden's Edge will play on the 21st. It should be an amazing show, keeping our 'Young Country' brand alive and well, not to mention our young audience. Of course, we're in the planning process of the 2012 WYCD 'Downtown Hoedown' too.
3) You worked in Nashville a long time-almost 10 years-what are you missing most from living in Music City and are you ready for a Detroit winter!
I lived so many lives in Nashville, and became very ingrained in the community, but was very ready to head back home to the Midwest at the time this position opened up in Detroit. I do miss those 'So Nashville' moments where I'd run into Faith Hill at Starbucks, or Wynonna at Target. See a young writer play for us in our conference room, and of course Bosco's Brewery Restaurant in Hillsboro Village. I also learned a lot about how radio and records really work. The hands on education one gets in Country radio in Nashville is unlike anything you can get in any other market.
4) You did some great community service promotions while you were at WKDF/Nashville-tell us about some memorable ones.
Being part of the community is something I believe is what makes radio great. Helping make a station matter to the listener outside of just playing the music, is the hallmark of a great radio station as opposed to just a good one. I helped raise thousands of dollars in conjunction with Great Clips Night For Kids, by offering to shave my head live on the air and on the evening news if we reached a goal, which was tripled. I also enjoyed touching people on the street ringing the Salvation Army bell each Christmas, and helping out at the Rescue Mission in their annual turkey drive. Nashville gave me a lot, so giving back was very important to me... so many don't get the chance in that town, I was very grateful.
5) Your dad was in broadcasting-how did that influence you, and this might be a curse but it must really be in your blood.
Yeah, Cliff wasn't too thrilled when he realized that taking me to the radio station with him as a kid became an obsession. By the time I was thirteen, I had a makeshift studio set up in my bedroom, and a friend of mine and I used to make fake radio shows, since girls didn't pay us any mind. But yeah, those childhood memories of hanging with my father (who was a tremendous broadcaster himself) are very special to me and I am thankful that I was able to not only follow in his footsteps but learn a lot so by the time I had my own first show in Peoria when I was seventeen, I was way ahead of the curve. He's very proud of my accomplishments too.
6) You work for a great programmer (Tim Roberts) and quite a legendary air-staff there-how does the station differ from others that you have worked?
One would think with as much personality as WYCD has, that we'd be some ego-driven machine, but that is so NOT the case. Seriously, I was intimidated as hell when I first signed on with this station, but everyone has taken me in, and treated me like family from the first day. We have a true team. There's a strong work ethic here and family atmosphere that hasn't existed at some other stations I've been part of, and that's why we do so well. You can't fake stationality, and WYCD defines stationality. We lift each other up and support one another, and that makes us a better, stronger staff. The ratings reflect that too. Without any brown on my nose at all, Tim Roberts has an amazing way about him. He's like our dad, and a head coach, and knows how to bring out the talent in his players. He deserves every accolade he receives and I am getting some great programming and managerial training each day I work for and with him. It's amazing how kindness, patience, and positivity equates incredible results.
7) What kinds of things have you and your lovely wife Karen been able to explore and do in your new city?
We're gonna get so fat here. Detroit's the coney dog capital of the world. Every block of the city is anchored by diners called 'Coney Islands' which serve tasty chili dogs, and we love them, not to mention the old school slider stations serving up greasy cheeseburgers all night long. Buddy's Pizza is unique to Detroit and sooo tasty, perhaps one of the best pizzas this Illinois boy has ever enjoyed. Oh, and beer. Michigan beer! I had no idea Michigan had so many incredible micro and craft breweries. Being a hobbiest brewmaster, I enjoy that. Karen loves the water, the lakes and beautiful parks around this city are truly spectacular.
8) We hear that you are quite the chef and BBQ master-what kinds of specialties do you like to whip up?
In the last decade, barbecue has become somewhat of a passion of mine. Nothing makes me happier than to eat my own succulent pork shoulder I've been babysitting all day, while watching football. Karen thinks if this radio thing dies, I should open up a barbecue joint. I also make a mean tri-tip chili, but I try not to be so mean with it, as not everyone likes food as hot as I do--especially my wife.
9) And you brew your own beer? You are quite an over-achiever-tell us about your home brew.
Still a novice at this. But much like the patience it takes to make great barbecue, the same thing goes into homebrewing. It takes patience, time, not to mention trial and error. I've not brewed since I moved to Detroit, but I hope to soon, because the cold weather will provide the perfect weather for lagering. I prefer dry-hopped India pale ales, and would like to perfect my own chocolate stout soon. Best beer I ever made in Nashville was a wheat beer with orange, coriander, and lemon, I named after the infamous cicada invasion of last spring, and called it 'Cicada Pee.' Glad you asked?
10) Who have some of your mentors been in your life-both in broadcasting and outside of the industry.
My father obviously. Radio was our main bond growing up, and I learned how to be an impatient perfectionist from him. I've since mellowed. Radio mentors include listening through the static to Larry Lujack on WLS as a little boy in Illinois, then as a teen in Florida to Cleveland Wheeler on Q105. The late Dale Van Horn, my first PD at WXCL in Peoria, Paul Ciliano at my first large market gig doing AC at Warm 94.9 FM in Tampa in the 90s, then John Sebastian, whom I worked for at 95.5 The Wolf in Nashville. John taught me that a format has no restrictions and I learned a lot about how he marketed and imaged his radio stations, and thinking outside the box when it comes to Country. Tim Roberts has also been just amazing so far and just when I thought I knew a lot, I come and work for this guy, and every day I get schooled. If you're not learning something new in this business, you get stagnant. I've been blessed to work for some amazing mentors.
1) We know you love football. Are you still a Titans fan up there?
Titans? Not so much. I have learned to grow where I am planted. I have assimilated nicely into the Detroit culture, and picked a great time to jump on the Lions bandwagon. One reason I was excited to move here was because of it's amazing pro sports history. Karen and I have also become big Red Wings fans. There's no feeling like entering Joe Louis Arena. None.
2) What music are you listening to in your iPod right now?
I spend less time listening to my iPod these days. I work in Detroit. Arbitron Market 11. The radio dial is full of amazing radio stations and great talent here. It's really fun to listen to the radio again, but I like to rock out to a lot of classic rock when not playing the country. Being in Motown, I've also rediscovered my love for good R&B and soul music too. There's no shortage of soul in Detroit.
3) Since you're a BBQ fan-what favorite Tennessee BBQ joint are you missing right now?
Best barbecue in Nashville was not Jack's, not Rippy's either. B&C BBQ at the Nashville Farmer's Market and at Melrose on 8th Avenue. Always great portions and unique sides. I miss that place. Oh, and Puckett's Grocery in Leiper's Fork. Karen and I will miss those nice drives along the Natchez Trace for a bite to eat there for sure.