10 Questions with ... Miranda McDonald
September 16, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Worked freelance as a production assistant on music videos
- Worked at CMT, started out as a production assistant, then moved on to produce the morning radio segment. I also was a journalist, doing interviews and stories for the CMT Radio prep service. Then I hosted the CMT Radio show.
- From there I went to LA for a brief period to be one of the producers on the Adam Corolla morning show, when he took over for Howard Stern.
- Moved back and got a call from Jon Loba to be the Southwest Regional for Valory for four years.
- Now Director of Regional Promotion-Southwest at MCA Nashville
1) Hi Miranda! How did you land such a good job and how long have you been there now?
I started working for MCA in January of 2012. I have known a lot of the Universal staff for a while, now, and was excited when they asked me to be a part of their team. Prior to MCA, I worked for the Big Machine Label Group for four years on the Valory imprint. Jon Loba is the first person to really get me interested in promotions. I met him when I was working at CMT, when he first told me that I would make a great "rep." I didn't know what a "rep" was, I just thought they were these cool people who traveled around to different shows. Now I know how inaccurate I was. We're not cool people.
2) What's your favorite part about being the Director of Regional Promotion-Southwest?
I have been doing this region for long enough, now, that I've got some great relationships in my territory. People I consider friends. I've also love traveling. Although I've been going to the same places for the last few years, I still discover new things on the road. For instance, I can tell you the best gas station between Houston and San Antonio to buy double barrel shotgun lighters at. And Buc-ees, sweet, sweet Buc-ees and their jerky buffet.
3) You grew up in Wyoming...what made you move to Nashville and how was the transition?
I was 19 when I left. It was hard to leave my family and Wyoming, but I knew I wanted to do something in the music industry. I just didn't know what. I was going to a small school in Nebraska on a pole vaulting scholarship so it was tough to admit that I probably wasn't going to be the next Olympic pole vaulter. I was visiting my dad in Oregon, the summer before I moved, when I met a guy named Boh Cooper. He was playing keys for the Rascal Flatts when I met him. We e-mailed back and forth a lot and he encouraged me to make the move. It was somewhat of a rash decision. I got a new, reliable car on a Wednesday and I moved on Thursday.
4) What type of music did you listen to when you were a kid? When did you start listening to Country?
I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, so you're actually punished if you don't' listen to Country. My mom was a Motown lover. My dad was a Blues fan, and my brother and sister and I listened to everything from Country to Rock to Hip Hop. I remember buying my first tape, it was Wham!.I've always listened to Country. I'm very lyrically driven and my absolute favorite singer/songwriter is Patty Griffin. I get annoyed when people talk through a song I'm playing them for the first time because I feel like they might miss a good line. I usually end the song with a quiz. I've been told it's quite annoying.
5) There are a lot of ups and downs when working in radio. What's the most rewarding part?
I know not of these "downs" you speak of, only ups. Just kidding. It can be brutal. There are so many rewarding parts to this career, though. That's why people do it. Hearing your artist's song on the radio in your territory for the first time, knowing you had something to do with getting it there. Turning a non-believer into a believer. For me, I get a lot of reward out of feeling like I've grown and learned and have gotten more comfortable with everything. The obvious rewards, the successes of the songs, number ones, great album sales. I love a good fight. When you work so hard, with your team, whether it's for a number one or something else, when you're all working for the same end result, and it's a fight, it's so gratifying when you win.
6) When you're not working or travelling, what are your favorite things to do?
Play with my chubby baby. I miss Charlie like crazy when I travel. So I try to spend as much time with her as I possibly can, when I'm not on the road. I like to fly fish, camp, anything out doors, with my husband, when it's not too hot out. I hate the heat. I play piano, not well, not even half well, but I enjoy it. I started sewing because I'm trying to make it a trend for all 31-year-olds, it's not catching on very quickly. I'm terrible at that, as well, but I feel very pioneer-woman-esque when I can mend some jeans or make clothing for my daughter. I love listening to music, all music, all the time. I drive Kip (my husband) crazy, because I want it on at all times. Charlie and I have dance parties. Although she's the same size from her torso up as she is from her torso down, she's got some sweet moves.
7) What is the most played song on you iPod?
That changes on a daily basis. I'm actually looking in my iTunes "Most Played" list right now. Oh, wow, that's embarrassing. A country song that I can NEVER get sick of is Chris LeDoux's version of "Tougher Than The Rest." I absolutely love that song. I probably play "Sweet Lorraine" by Patty Griffin more than most songs. Patty is probably the most played artist on my iPod.
8) How would you describe your first radio gig?
After I got hired at Valory, Jon Loba and I set out to meet all the people at my stations. Jon is, admittedly, the worst driver ever. At least he's honest. After God knows how many days on the road of me driving, for fear of dying in a horrific car accident, I finally gave in and asked Jon to drive so I could take a nap. We had just got done having lunch with Patches and Jojo in McAllen. They had warned us about a "checkpoint" on the way to Corpus Christi. I had very dark hair and was all tanned up, and have been told on numerous occasions that I look Hispanic. In fact, when I'm in Mexico the locals only speak Spanish to me, so I don't blame this guard for his questioning me. I was in the backseat of the rental because I was trying to get a nap, when Jon told me to sit up, that we were approaching the check point. Now, I realize how suspicious it might look to have a driver, little Johnny Loba, from Michigan, all smiles, in the front seat, alone, with a "passenger" in the back, looking very sleepy. They asked Jon where he was from and didn't even bat an eye. When they asked me where I was from, and I replied that I was born in Wyoming, I was certain this might be my last conversation outside of steel bars. The officer questioned me for what seemed like forever, all the while, Jon laughing like a hyena in the front seat. After several proofs of identification were shown, we were on our way. Jon, to this day, wishes they'd have taken me in for "questioning."
9) What is the most memorable radio event that you have ever been involved in, and why was it so special?
The one that always comes to mind is when I was working with Justin Moore. His song, "Small Town USA" had just hit top 20 and we were at Kix On Beale. It just so happened to be my birthday, also. Justin had me come on stage with him and had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to me, then Kay Manley brought out a cake and a bottle of Vodka (she pretty much nailed my wish list)! After that Justin started to intro "Small Town" and the crowd went absolutely CRAZY. It was the first time that I remember feeling like "holy crap, this guy is really breaking." Justin, at one point, during the song, looked over at me holding my video camera, bawling like a child, and just shook his head in amazement. They sang every single line, word for word. It was an awesome feeling and was so gratifying after working so hard to break Justin.
10) When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
I thought I wanted to be a teacher, for about five minutes, because I love kids, but that passed. Then I wanted to be a pianist, but quit my piano lessons because my teacher's house smelled funny. I was pretty sure I would be an actress because I was pretty amazing at crying on cue. I think every kid wants to be a performer, at some point in their childhood. I can't tell you how many times I serenaded myself in a mirror while singing into my hairbrush.
Tell us about your sweet daughter Charlie.
She's hilarious. She really is, I'm not just saying that. She already, at a year and a half, has a courtesy laugh. She does it for herself, though. Just in case no one finds what she's doing funny, she'll laugh at herself. She absolutely is obsessed with music. Loves it. I played music for her when she was in the womb, on these belly headphones, all the time and it shows, because she can't get enough of it. When I come home and she hears my car, and she runs to the door screaming "momma momma momma!" it pretty much erases any stress or bad thing that happened that day.
What's your favorite vacation spot?
Wyoming. Home. I love being home, so much. I love riding horses with my sister or hiking all over the ranch, taking the four wheelers around. In the winter my mom is always baking something and the house smells eatable. My family is absolutely insane and it's awesome. I also love being on a beach, it doesn't matter if it's cold or warm. I just like the sound. I love SeaGrove, Florida. Of all the places I've been I would say Wyoming or some pretty beach are my favorite spots.
What actress would you have play you in a movie?
Probably Ru Paul. For height reasons. I have no idea. I haven't really ever thought about that. Maybe Marissa Tomei, but I'd have her play me with her New York accent from My Cousin Vinny.