10 Questions with ... Nate Deaton
October 28, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
It is very brief, I started in radio during my last year at San Jose State. I was the promotion intern at KSJO here in San Jose in 1984, then I was the Promotion Director in 1985 and 1986. Then I did the headline entertainment and promotions at the Santa Clara County Fair from 1986-1992 and started at KRTY in 1994 as promotion director. Was named Marketing Director/APD in 2000 and GM in 2006.
1) What's new and exciting at KRTY Nate-what big things are going on currently?
We continue to be the home for live music in the Bay Area. Our summer season is over at Shoreline, but we host 30 or show shows a year in the club and we have Heidi Newfield, Josh Thompson, Craig Campbell, Colt Ford and Thompson Square all coming up. Plus, with the great music out of Nashville, we always have what is new and exciting.
2) How often are you told how rare it is for a GM to do music-it's also refreshing-how do you find time?
Well most people we deal with know that the music is the priority. We are locally owned and operated so there are not a lot of corporate reports or everyone's favorite time waster, meetings, that we have here. So we can accomplish a lot because the buck really does stop here locally. Our owner is a very special man and a great mentor. He turns 91 in December and is the single most amazing person I know. The lack of covering our butts in meetings allows time to program a station.
3) There's a lot of new stuff out there right now, what are some of your favorite new songs?
I always hate this question because I will leave someone deserving out, but in the spirit of Hot Picks I will give you my 3 personal favorites on the air. Not that they will be hits, but on KRTY they sound awesome: Montgomery Gentry's I'll Keep the Kids is a great reaction song. Hard to believe a career song could be possible at this stage, but this may be one for them. Gary Allan hit a home run with Every Storm and Gloriana's Can't Shake You just simply jumps off the radio. Plus there is one that only a few have heard and as far as I know is not a single, but Austin Webb has a song called "Odd Way of Getting Even" that is just amazing.
4) You're very passionate about music-do you think that's not the norm these days? And when do you find time to listen to anything and everything?
I don't think it is the norm, but I also think there are a lot of people in this format that are passionate about music that get a short straw because they are confined by some corporate play list. Interestingly enough I only listen at work. Sometimes in the background when I am writing like this, but mostly when I get something in. Yes, we do listen to everything, but many songs only a very short part of it. I listen to the station when I am in the car, it is really the only time to hear what we really sound like in context with the listener.
We go to every show and listen to every set, that is why we see so many artists, I remember songs from live shows and we also get lots and lots of demos. The two things you can bet is we'll listen and we'll give you our feedback. Honest feedback.
5) Tell us about the KRTY music series at the vineyard that you have going.
It is a songwriters series. We just finished the second year. I have long been fascinated with Songwriters and the stories behind hit records. You really need the right atmosphere, so we partnered with Jason Stephens Winery, an intimate setting of 300, down in Morgan Hill. It is perfect for songwriters. Jimmy Ritchey, Wynn Varble, Jon Stone, Mallory Hope, D Vincent Williams, Dustin Lynch all played there this year and a few others. We have also had the opportunity to do a couple special fundraisers there with Martina McBride, Kix Brooks and Eric Church that were very special intimate settings.
6) How do you juggle priorities, duties etc and not go crazy?
We do everything here as a team. Julie Stevens is the program director/music director/morning co-host. Tina Ferguson is the General Sales Manager and both are two of the best in the business at what they do. There is nothing we can't work though together and thus the demands while tough are manageable. I can't imagine ever doing anything in this crazy business without the two of them.
We may be a bit informal at times with one another but that also comes from 18 years of grinding this out together. It really is a wonderful team and everything we accomplish is because of our great relationship.
7) How does KRTY cut through with all the other noise out there-what makes the station special?
The listeners know we believe in the format. We are constantly talking about the new artists or new songs from big artists. It is what we do and frankly the only real shot we have of staying relevant. Anyone can play a homogenous play list and generate some decent ratings. The AC stations have been doing it for decades. But a station with a passion can deliver results. Perhaps that is the advantage of being a programming GM, I am responsible for both. In this market (and any market of similar size) ratings are going to come and go, it is the nature of the ratings system, but results never go out of style.
We go to every show. Club, Winery big venue you will see us out in force. It is a must. The listeners pay attention to that kind of stuff. None of this is new or innovative, in fact, you might call it Old School. But it works. We have proven it now for 20 years.
8) Do you still love what you do like when it all started and how does one maintain that intensity and passion?
Absolutely, I can't imagine doing what we do with the hours we keep and not loving it. I think the way to maintain is just that. There are endless dinners and endless shows, but you never know when the next Eric Church is going to walk into your conference room. If you don't love what you do, then you have to find something you do love.
9) How hard is it to balance family and career?
I have an amazing wife of 25 years who totally gets what I do. It would be impossible to maintain balance without that. There is just too much. She loves country (and works in radio herself as a GSM at AC's KBAY/KEZR) but she is not crazy about going to clubs to see shows, but understands that it is a big part of my job. Our son is now 16 and about the last thing he wants to do is hang out with us. We do however still try to go to every soccer game.
10) What kinds of challenges for our industry concern you most today?
The biggest one I mentioned above. We are a viable medium if we don't shoot ourselves in the foot and let someone else take our space. Discover new music, don't make me and the 10 other folks like me do it for you. Be live and local. Be relevant to the audience. That is all that separates us from the technology driven platforms. We can beat them by being local. We are blessed in this format to have the artist's we do, use them wisely. Don't just bring in a show to do a show, bring in shows that feature the act to your audience. Own it and promote it. Trust me it will pay off big in the long run.
I live and work in the technology capitol of the world. Silicon Valley. The highest educated most expensive place to live in the country. You can talk to folks whose kids go to school with yours and they will tell you what they do and you have no idea what they are talking about. We have a viable country station here. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and don't be afraid to take chances, sometimes they will pay off huge.
1) Pizza or Sushi?
Sushi or Pizza depending on the restaurant. I have favorites for both.
2) Are you going to vote this November?
Yes, always. I don't think that much of the National elections anymore, especially in California, but we have a local council race and a local measure on minimum wage that are important.
3) What was the latest book, movie, TV show or anything else that you saw or read, that really impacted you and why?
I think it all comes back to a song. I am not a religious person but the impact of Thomas Rhett's Beer With Jesus is very moving to me. I think the lyric reminds us that even if it is not Jesus, the other person you are talking to always has something interesting to say if you just listen. .