10 Questions with ... Paul B. Walker Jr
January 22, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I've worked at oldies stations, a CCM station, two News Talk stations and several Country stations, including where I am now. Locations everywhere from Marks, Mississippi to Williston, North Dakota to Cocoa Florida, and Ridgway, PA.
1) What led you to a career in radio? How did you get your start?
I became interested in the media from a very early age, somewhere in elementary school as I recall. I just remember being fascinated by how radio and TV signals got from the station to me through thin air. I also remember thinking how much fun those DJs seemed to be having and that they got to play music for a living.
2) Who are 3 people that have been mentors to you, inside or outside of the industry?
Wow, this is a loaded question because there have been so many people over the years that have given me some very valuable advice.
I think one of my biggest industry mentors that I've known the longest is a friend named Ira Littman whose been in the business for 40 years with everything from ownership to on air and sales to promotions. He's always there to give me a no nonsense honest answer or listen when I have some crazy hair brained scheme.
I think one of my other biggest mentors is former Star 99.9 WEZN/Bridgeport, CT Morning Host and current News Talk WNTK/WUVR Claremont-Lebanon, NH Morning guy John Harper. John has been very very successful in radio years and he's given me so many tips that have made me a better on air guy. It is invaluable to have someone of John's caliber to call on when I need advice.
As for a third mentor? Some of my best friends in the industry or broadcast engineers, the guys who deal with the nitty gritty of a burnt up transmitter or a console that's buzzing. I've worked with and met so many engineers that have been so gracious in sharing their knowledge with me. Jerry Keifer, Gary Glaenzer, The Late Steve Delay, Joe Portelli just to name a few.
If it weren't for all the people who've been there for me when I needed them and helped me or done a favor, I wouldn't be where I am or be as successful as I am. And yes, for all you haters out there, I definitely consider myself successful because to me, success is measured by a lot more then ratings and market size. It's measured by the response from listeners, the co-workers I consider family, the owner who takes care of his employees and the area I live in.
3) You said one of your hobbies is listening to radio stations in other countries. What are your favorite stations to listen to and are there any big differences from American stations?
I LOVE Capital Radio 101 from Istanbul, Turkey. It's a very upbeat selection of the hits from the 80s and 90s. The jocks, liners and commercials are all Turkish but jingles and music are English. One of my other favorites that is no longer on the air was Magic 105 in Northern Ireland, hits from the 70s and 80s. I've samples all kinds of stations. Even though I can't speak or understand any other languages, I love foreign stations that speak their native language but play American/English music.
4) What are you the most proud of in your career in radio so far?
Hmmm Well, I've certainly done a few things I am not proud of. But, I once programmed a stations new format prior to it flipping and I found out after I left just how much the town really liked what I did.
Where I am now, we are a 50,000 Watt FM Standalone station in a town of 4,000 people that serves 16 counties. When I got here, we had just 1,008 Facebook friends. I grew our Facebook friends to almost 1550 in less then 5 months.
As for other things I'm proud of but choose not to seek recognition for: being there in severe weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters where my listeners needed information and I was the one they relied on.
5) Did you grow up listening to Country music or what were you listening to when you were younger?
Actually, I grew up listening to "Hartford's Solid Gold, Big D 103." I can remember being very very young, 3 or 4 years old, and my parents having that on. I've loved rock and roll oldies from the 50s, 60s and 70s ever since then.
6) What new music are you listening to right now that you love, either Country or non-Country?
You know, I bet if you asked 10 Country jocks what new music they like, 11 of them would say "Red Solo Cup" by Toby Keith and yeah, that is definitely on my list of new favorites. I like new music, but I am a HUGE fan of Classic Country from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
7) You have worked in many markets but if you had to choose a new one, what market would you most want to be on air in and why?
I'm happy where I am now but it's been a desire of mine to be on the air in Norwich/New London or Hartford, CT. Why? I grew up in Connecticut and it has always felt like home for me. If I was on a signal in either market, the two most important people in my life, my Mom and Dad would be able to hear me on the radio without having to turn on the computer. I've never worked in a market local to them and for them to be able to hear me on a regular AM/FM radio would mean the world to me.
8) If you weren't in the radio industry, what career path do you think you would be following?
I think if I weren't in radio, I'd be a Secretary/Receptionist. All of you reading this out there can laugh, but I love talking on the phone, greeting/dealing with people and using my job to make their day better or brighter and being able to answer a question they had or direct them to the right person would help them.
9) What do you love so much about being on air and how do you feel is the best way to really connect with listeners?
I love being on the air because listeners treat our station and it's on air talent like family. Listeners tell us the station has become a DAILY part of their lives and that I make them laugh or smiles and that's what drives me.
As for the best way to connect, anyway really like digital/social media. Facebook and texting are definitely big with our audience. But I also get tons of phone calls every day. I've even invited listeners to send me a letter, card or note via the good ole' United States Post Service and I've gotten several cards to date from listeners, simply thanking me for the job I am doing and that they enjoy listening to me.
I connect with my listeners any way I can and what they hear is exactly who I am and what they get. I'm as real as it gets.
10) Another of your hobbies is collecting radio station jingles. Tell us more about that- how many have you collected?
I've collected so many since middle school I've lost count. Before computers become popular, I collected them on cassette and I even had WNBP Newburyport, MA OM Matt Stevens and WJIB Boston, MA/WJTO Bath, ME owner Bob Bittner send them to me as a direct dub from the station.
I love jingles of all kinds really. Some foreign jingles are pretty cool even though I can't always understand them. I'd say I probably have 24 hours worth of jingles. That is small in comparison to some people but quite a lot for me.
My favorite jingle packages ever? Thompson Creative's "Oldies Combo" for BIG D 103 WDRC-FM Hartford, CT and TM Century's "Big Time Honolulu" for 92.3 KSSK.
1) What is your guilty pleasure?
Oh man, I'm not sure I can admit to that in public, just kidding! I love FOOD but is that really a guilty pleasure? I simply enjoy a lot of it! I stand 6 foot 2 and weigh almost 240. Any of my current or past co-workers can tell you I am always eating something.
On another side, I am a fan of several different TV shows, two of which I could watch all day and never get tired of is "I Love Lucy" and "The Golden Girls." I've recently become somewhat addicted to "Storage Wars" on A&E.
2) If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Anytime I get asked this question, the first person that comes to mind is Bob Barker. I know that sounds odd but here's my reasoning: I love learning about the past when it comes to broadcasting and technology. Bob has been in radio before and was on TV for decades. The things he's seen happen in the world and how broadcasting has changed in the last 50 years would probably make for discussions that could last days, if not weeks. A discussion could go on for ever, if I brought music or DVD's with me they'd be finished with or worn out eventually.
3) What is the first album you ever bought?
Honestly, it was probably a Beatles CD back in late middle school. They've been one of my favorite groups for a long time since my favorite song ever since I was a little kid is their "Hard Days Night" from 1964.