10 Questions with ... Andy Elliot
October 19, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Elliott crossed over to record promotion in 2010 after an 18-year radio career, which included on-air and programming positions. His final radio stop was Cumulus KHKI/Des Moines. After a brief promotional stint with New Revolution, Elliot joined the Arista Nashville team for regional promotion in 2011, eventually rising to Dir./National in September.
1. Andy, thanks for taking the time for 10 Questions! Congrats again on your recent promotion to Dir./National for Arista. What do you feel is the role of a national on a label's radio promo team?
I'm the helper in the middle. I need to provide backup and support to help the Regionals do their jobs efficiently and I need to provide information and support to my VP to help her lead the team.
2. You've come from radio (and fairly recently), so managing a staff is already part if your skillset. Do you feel regionals on a promo team are the equivalent to members of an airstaff at radio - where some require special care and feeding pretty regularly?
There are definitely egos that come in to play. Anytime you're dealing with highly creative people you're bound to have some unique personalities to juggle. The trick is finding what motivates each person to excel and focus on that. It's the same thing with family. I have a wife and four kids and they are all unique and have their own buttons that fire them up or shut them down. You just have to know which ones to push at what time.
3. When you made the jump to promotion you were a veteran programmer, so I'm guessing you knew what the job entailed - but can you identify any aspects of it that you never saw coming?
I thought I knew a lot about radio when I jumped over to this side. The most satisfying thing for me so far has been the ability to work closely with so many brilliant radio programmers. It's like a Master Class every day I talk to my guys. Radio has also changed a lot in the four years I've been removed from it. I feel fortunate to continue to learn everyday about this medium I love.
4. And being from radio, you know full well what the guy on the other side of the desk is doing, day-to-day. How have you used this knowledge to your advantage since moving to the label side?
I would suspect my stations would say I've been respectful of their time. I know how many hats these programmers are wearing and the last thing they need is to have their time wasted. I've also started my own station KNDY. I go through the process of having my own playlist and make music decisions every week just like I used to. It gives me a different perspective and helps me realize there are some very tough music choices to make any given week. I'm very close to adding another category just so I can fit in everything I want to play. :)
5. Do you feel certain programmers and MDs take you more seriously, knowing you've been in their shoes?
Maybe at first but the bottom line is that I better do what I say I'm going to do and not waste their time. You can get into the game by being a past member of their club but you better do something when you're in there if you want to keep playing. I'm always trying to retain their trust and respect. There are too many great people that do what I do and if I'm not working hard and delivering what my stations need, I'm gonna end up on the bench.
6. In a #1 battle, promo teams have to pull out all the stops to accomplish a goal. That sometimes means off-hours and weekend calls to PDs - which they seem to hate. How do you walk that line between being passionate and aggressive, and risking the long-term relationship?
I do as much advance homework as possible. When I leave on Friday I better know what my stations are doing with my records so there are no surprises. That doesn't mean that there aren't surprises. In those cases I just try to approach it the way I would have wanted to be approached - with respect and understanding. It's a little different today than it was four years ago. Back then I had to get in the car, leave my family and drive to the station to change things. Now a lot of programmers can do it from their phone. It's still intruding on their personal time and I try to avoid that at all costs.
7. Still on the topic of relationships - All of us in this format talk about how well labels and radio work together. Do you feel that' s really true? And, in what way can we make this ongoing and vital relationship work even better?
I do think it's true. I've always looked at it as a mutual respect partnership. The only way I can win is if I help you to win and vise versa. We need Country radio to be as strong as possible to reach the most people. They need us to deliver the best music and most compelling artists to attract and keep listeners. Neither link can let the other one down or we all suffer.
8. You're entrenched in promotion now, but say you did go back to radio - having done both, what would you do different and how would you be a better programmer?
As I mentioned before I've had the chance to learn from so many great programmers since I've been on the promotion side. I would be able to steal so much more from these great minds on top of what I've already stolen from [Journal VP/Programming] Beverlee Brannigan when she was my PD. I love diving in and seeing why they have their clocks the way they do. Why they make the music decisions they make. How they use different tools like research, sales and M-Scores to come to conclusions. Everyone looks at all of that stuff through a different lens. Being able to pick and choose what makes sense to me is what would make me a better programmer.
9. What has been the most rewarding and/or satisfying moment for you since transitioning to promotion?
Experiencing a #1 record with Jerrod Niemann. Back before Jerrod was even signed to Sony I was a huge fan and was fortunate to have the freedom to spin his music because I believed in it. Now to be able to work this closely with him on this side of the fence has been a dream come true.
10. Every promo person remembers their first #1 ... tell us yours and give us a back story on it?
My first #1 was Carrie Underwood "Good Girl". There are certainly high expectations when you're dealing with an artist as amazing as Carrie. We got that song to #1 in 15 weeks and I was so nervous the whole time, praying that I didn't do anything to screw it up. What an amazing feeling to hit that mark and then go and celebrate with my team.
1. Name your favorite - and least favorite - airports
Love Midway and BWI because they have Potbelly sandwiches. Hobby Houston is pretty good too. Least favorite is [Chicago's] O'Hare, only because I always seem to get stranded for hours when I fly out of there.
2. Longest-ever road trip?
12 days. My wife made me promise to never do that again. Promo tour ran into several tour dates in my region then back to promo tour. I've never smelled better.
3. Worst-ever nightmare passenger in security line or on a plane while traveling.
I love the exuberant eater that has a messy smelly sandwich and decides to sit in the middle seat and savor that meal for the better part of an hour.
4. Longest amount of time between returned call/text/emails from PD. No need to name PD!
Anything longer than three weeks and I fly in and camp out in the lobby.