10 Questions with ... Larry Morgan
March 2, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Joined KKGO/Los Angeles on Monday, February 17th. Previously handled mornings at crosstown Rock KSWD (The Sound); additional Los Angeles on-air radio experience includes KYSR/Los Angeles and Top 40 KIIS/Los Angeles. Also served as SVP for "Top 40 With Ryan Seacrest," and spent 14 years with Premiere Radio overseeing programming and services, eventually rising to SVP/Network Programs & Services. Outside of radio, Morgan has done voiceover work and acting.
1. Larry, congrats on the new morning gig at Country KKGO. You're no stranger to LA radio listeners, after a successful stint at KSWD. Tell us how you and Go Country got together.
Thanks! I have to thank Go Country production director Jeff Serr for that. We worked together years ago at KIIS-AM in the 80's (when we were both pre-teens, ahem). I had known PD Tonya Campos from KZLA days and liked her a lot, had a lot of respect for Saul Levine, and certainly enjoy the music, so I thought it would be a great place to work. It took a few months for them to consider all submissions, but when it came together it was quick and easy; we all just thought this was the right fit.
2. You've been involved in the format before, while at Premiere Radio, but is this your first fulltime on-air morning show on Country radio?
It is! Other than filling in for Blair and doing After MidNite weekends for a couple of years I haven't ever worked fulltime in the format. The closest I came was when YOU, R.J., asked me to fill in for Peter Tilden for a week on KZLA back-in-the-day. But ultimately, morning drive is still about the same things; get people awake, informed, entertained and, in our case, play a lot of great music.
3. In fact, your career is very diverse. You have a solid on-air background in major markets, comedy-writing and an executive programming level position while at Premiere. Anything else we've left out?
Um, I'm the voice you hear in the bathroom at all AMC and Regal/Edwards/UA Cinemas nationwide. That's my most bizarre claim-to-fame. Also, I have a small speaking role in "Grudge Match" with Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro which comes out on DVD in March. I'm really pushing that because nobody saw it in theaters and I blow DeNiro off the screen in that 1 1/2 minutes.
4. Tell us the defining radio station in your life growing up - and the personality you listened to most.
I grew up in Odessa, Texas so I don't have the big-name call letters to reference, but as a kid it was KOZA-AM. It was the waning days of the Boss Radio era, but these guys were high-energy, high-personality jocks and I loved it. After that it was John Clay and the folks at KRIG-AM. John was not only someone I listened to but he became one of my most important radio mentors and friends. He happens to be my son's godfather!
And when I got to L.A. to go to USC I listened to the late, great Big Ron O'Brien on KFI-AM when they were still Top 40 and whom I would later work with at KIIS-FM. I don't think there's any one jock, ever, that I stole more from than Big Ron when I was getting started. He's the best I ever heard, period.
5. We saw you have an improv background. How does this come in handy on the radio and would you recommend other jocks at least explore this training?
I can't recommend it enough. But it needs to be a really well-respected program or instructor. I went through the full program at Upright Citizen's Brigade in Hollywood with the idea that it would help my acting and my writing and, while it definitely did both, it is invaluable in learning how to listen, support, and find the funny by being real, grounded and relatable and not forcing jokes. For any morning team that wants to grow, know that taking improv could be your secret weapon.
6. I know it's only been a couple of weeks on the job, but do you find Country listeners in Los Angeles any different than other markets, in your opinion?
Not yet - everyone has been warm, friendly and open. The audience has been amazing, willing to give me a chance and welcoming me into the Go Country family. That just goes to show what a great job the team here has done in building a station that the audience is fiercely loyal to.
7. Country has always been more a niche format choice in LA but the music is blowing up big time - how far can you take the Go Country morning show? What are YOUR expectations?
I really think the potential for growth is huge, and you're right, I seem to be coming in at a time that country is really thriving. The music is accessible and incredibly well-produced while still staying true to its roots. And I find that many of my former Sound listeners have no problem crossing over to hear guys like Eric Church and others rockin' it. Hot AC is playing Taylor and Lady A so we're certainly sharing some of those listeners. I think the combination of the music being so good right now and my new morning partner Klaudia Aresti being there to help bring a genuine, upbeat, fun presence to the morning could really help things take off.
8. Country radio has always delivered an adult audience, but now its biggest growth is among millenials - or 12-34 year-old fans. How do you successfully talk to both audiences who love the same music?
Are you asking this because I am a...mature...gentleman? Again that's where having a younger presence like Klaudia around will be a big asset. Also being well-versed on social media and staying active online helps stay connected to a younger crowd. Ultimately, though, no matter what age they are they're having similar experiences in the morning; trying to wake up, trying to get through nasty traffic and wanting to hear a song they like. I think we can give them that and, so far, it seems to be appealing to a wide age range.
9. Again, knowing it's early on in the job at KKGO, but tell us your favorite Country song right now.
I've actually been keeping up with the format personally, as well as assisting on a syndicated country show, so I haven't been missing much. I like everything on Eric Church's new record. Miranda's "Automatic" is killer. And to me Brad Paisley can do no wrong, so I'm loving "The Mona Lisa" single. (Sorry, was it just supposed to be one?) Oh, and very much off the beaten path, everyone should listen to Roseanne Cash's new album. Amazing.
10. What artist are you chomping at the bit to interview on Go Country?
Brad, for sure. We have a long-running fake feud, which I can't even remember why/how it got started - but any time we talk, because of his dry humor (and withering stare) it ends up being hilarious. To me, anyway. Not sure if anybody else thinks so, but...