10 Questions with ... Jay Michaels
October 14, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started part time back in 1997 at K105 (WQHK) in Fort Wayne. Then did nights at K105 from 1999-2002, On Air at WBTU Fort Wayne 2002-2004, PD of WMDH Muncie, IN from 2004-2006 and I have been the PD of Willie 103.5 (WAWC) in Warsaw, IN since the beginning of the station back in 2006. I was named OM of all our Warsaw stations in 2008.
1) Hi Jay- You work in Warsaw, Indiana. Tell us a little bit about the challenges and rewards of working in a smaller market.
I think most people in small markets would tell you that the biggest challenge would be not having a promotions budget, and it definitely is. I think not having one is a benefit though too, as far as creativity goes, and it also allows sales to get involved in all promotions from start to finish. Any promotion we do, we have to have sales be completely involved in, and that brings us closer as a staff.
As far as rewards go, it really does give you a chance to get completely involved in the community and help where you can. You also get to see your listeners at the grocery store, while eating at a restaurant and at church too, and really get to know them.
2) How did you get into broadcasting? Did you go to school for this career?
I actually started in high school in Huntington, Indiana. I was able to really learn a lot about the industry from my radio teacher Bill Walker. He was a great teacher and really allowed me to do a lot of stuff to be fairly well-rounded when I graduated. I started at K105 in Fort Wayne only two weeks after graduating high school.
3) Your station is very community-oriented. What is one of the most unique promotions that you guys have done this year?
We do some pretty cool things throughout the year from trips to concerts to contests, but I am most proud of some of the unique ways we do community events. We hold a food drive every year the first weekend in November and take both our Classic Hits station and our Country station and broadcast live from a grocery store in town for 2 days. We have raised more than $40,000, and more than 30,000 pounds of food for each of the last two years.
4) What are your thoughts on voice-tracking and syndicated programming? Do your stations incorporate a lot of those alternatives into their on-air schedules?
I am very lucky that we are live from 5:30am to 8pm through the week and even have some live weekend shifts. I think you voice-track when you have to, but if you can be live- DO IT! There are way too many companies looking to cut costs and it seems the first thing to go is one of the most valuable assets: the talent. I'm sorry, but someone local to the community is WAY better than having someone from out of town tracking.
5) When hiring a new air talent, what are the most important qualities that you look for, so that they would fit your station's sound and be accepted within your local community?
Our jobs are changing so much these days and I look for someone who genuinely wants to be a part of the community since we are VERY active locally. But I'm also looking for someone who gets the social networking that we need to do these days. I have been very lucky on the country station here. I haven't had to hire anyone for Mornings, Midday's or Afternoons since the station started.
6) Are there any larger-market stations that you look to for inspiration or to model your sound or company culture after?
I have always been a huge fan of Bob Richards from HANK FM in Indianapolis. I do listen to his station quite a bit to get some ideas. I started really paying attention to what he was doing at WFMS.
7) If you could trade places with ANYONE for a day, who would it be and why?
Mike Fisher... He's married to Carrie Underwood! Just kidding. I would love to trade places with a Major League Baseball player. I have always wanted to put on a baseball uniform and play at Wrigley Field- one of my favorite places on Earth!
8) Radio has changed so dramatically over the past decade. For a newbie looking to get into the biz today, what piece of advice would you give that person?
Do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. I know it can be tough to get into radio these days since a lot of stations are doing away with part-timers (not us by the way), but if it's being a board op or even an intern, DO IT. When I first started in radio, I did everything that I could to help out where needed. I was on-air, but I was also a board op and even filled in on morning traffic reports!
9) Are there any exciting ratings book promotions going on within your cluster this fall?
The fall is when we really focus on community. We do a radiothon for St. Jude. We also do the food drive I mentioned earlier. We set up in an RV for a week and broadcast live during our "Toys For Tots" toy drive. There is one promotion that our Classic Hits station is doing called "Ornament Smash." I am excited to see that come together.
10) Can you name some industry people who you have worked with, who have guided you throughout your career? What lessons have they taught you over the years?
My first boss Dean McNeil has always been a huge influence on me. He gave me my start and I cannot thank him enough for that! Tony Richards, our former COO at Federated Media, is someone that I talk to on a regular basis and he has helped me tremendously over the last 6 years here. My radio teacher in high school is still someone I look up to and go to ballgames with when we have the chance to! One thing that I have taken from all of them is to trust your gut and don't be afraid to make mistakes.
1. If you could take an all-expense paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would that be?
HAWAII. I have always wanted to take my wife there and just enjoy it for a couple of weeks. I'd take the Bahamas too!
2. You come from a Country music background, even though you oversee multiple formats. What's your favorite country song on the air at your station, "Willie 103.5," right now?
The one that I still turn up the radio is "Pontoon" from Little Big Town. It's just a great fun song to turn up loud and sing at the top of your lungs!
3. When you aren't working, what other types of things do you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter. We love to go to Disney World. My daughter is 6 and has been there 4 times already! I play softball every summer and I enjoy heading to Wrigley Field and watching my very pathetic Cubs! Just wait 'til next year (or maybe the year after that, or the next one)!