10 Questions with ... Lance Tidwell
November 16, 2009
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first paying job was at WRFS FM in Alex City, AL. WRFS later moved from my home town in Alex City, AL to Columbus, GA and became WSTH FM.
After high school I went in the military. I got home to the U.S. from Iraq and got an apartment in Concord, CA in the Bay Area and decided to stay in California. I went to "Contra Costa's New Kiss" where Ken Boesen was the PD. Ken was nice enough to send me in to a production room to read some stuff and I ended up training later that night. I followed Ken to Boise, ID to work at KIZN.
I spent time programming there after Ken left for Fresno, CA. I programmed at KTOM in Monterey/Salinas where I think we did some good radio. After a couple of big moves I thought WGKX in Memphis might be the place I put down roots and maybe it should have been. But, I did take the long strange journey to Seattle and back to Memphis before landing with Mike Wheeler and a great group of guys and girls in Hartford at WWYZ.
1) Congrats on your new gig in Hartford! How's it going so far? Are you loving winter-time in the northeast?
It's going really well. It's not winter just yet but I have really enjoyed the fall. All of the hardwood trees in this region make for a pretty colorful display in fall. I'm expecting an adjustment period for winter, but that's okay. We love the outdoors and we're a skiing family.
2) How did you get your start in radio? Did you always know this was something you wanted to do for a living?
My dad put me on the radio when I was 14 for the very first time. That was at WZZZ in West Point, GA. He would let me run the board for football games and do weekends. My first weekend job, the first paid one came at 15-years-old at WACD in Alex City, AL. It was a different world then with cue burns, colored record shucks, album cuts and ACC on vinyl.
I wouldn't say I always knew this is what I wanted to do, but I did decide quickly that I was going to go for it. In the '80s radio was exciting, and there was a lot of hope in the industry in general. I don't regret radio, and a pet peeve of mine is people who poor mouth it. I still think it's a privilege to do this every day.
3) After graduating high school you enlisted in the military and you were sent to Iraq. What branch did you serve in and how long were you overseas? (Thank you for your service, by the way!)
I was in the U.S. Navy. It was peaceful when I signed up, but the first Gulf War broke and life changed quickly in the service. I wouldn't trade the time I gave my country for anything. Travel is an important part of the maturation process.
4) Tell us three people you admire, inside or outside of the industry, and why.
Inside the industry I admire Bob Glasco, Phil Hunt and Rusty Walker. I didn't have the pleasure of working with Rusty. But Phil Hunt helped me when I first started programming and Bob helped me later. These two guys shaped me as a programmer.
Outside of the industry I admire everyday people. Moms who work both ends of the clock to be there for their kids and make ends meet, Dads who work hard and take interest in the character of their kids and the kind of adults they are raising them to be. Celebrity is lost on me personally. I work in entertainment and I appreciate that the audience has it, but I don't get it. There's no singer, actor or athlete I need to meet anymore than they need to meet me.
5) You and your wife have four daughters. That's a lot of estrogen for one household! What do you and your family like to do for fun when you are not working?
We like to ski, both on water and on snow, so we're excited about winter. We love sports and all of my kids are active. I am as overcommitted at home as I am at work, but I wouldn't change a thing. I like chaos.
6) There's a lot of great music out right now. What are some artists you are high on at the moment?
I think we're in a really favorable music cycle right now. There's SO much good music right now. I like Justin Moore's stuff and I love the new Toby Keith single. Just when I think I can predict where he's going he changes it up. I like that about Toby's whole career. I love the new single from Eric Church, and I think the current single from Jack Ingram is just exceptional. I think there is so much great diversity in the sound and texture of music coming from Nashville right now, and that's always been a positive thing for ratings in my experience. It's when we get a narrow music lane that we tank. Leaning to traditional or to AC has never been good for our format.
7) What do you think is the biggest issue facing radio today and how do you think it can be resolved- pretend you are FCC Commissioner for a day.
Well, from my point of view it's the ability to create compelling unique content so that we remain relevant. I believe the economic challenges every business is faced with today are a big part of the layer upon layer of radio but ultimately it's the showbiz that will decide if you're a part of the consumers past or their present and future. I'm not qualified to do more than speculate on where radio is going in terms of its relationship with banking and finance, but I do know we need more creative radio people who make people feel stuff and programmers that get "it."
8) What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
It's the great people I've met and worked with from Alabama to California and places in between. I've had the pleasure of working in some really beautiful places and some places that were more of an acquired taste but my radio tour has been everything I hoped it would be. The people I have worked with have been exceptional in all the places I've been there's something positive I can take away from it in the end. I've come to find that the expression that "most things in life are the spirit in which you meet them" is absolutely true.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
That change is constant in radio. But, change doesn't always mean it's bad. The world is indeed a different place than it was yesterday. Not necessarily better or worse, it's just different.
10) What is the best piece of advice you been given?
That it's not important what others think of you. It's important what you know to be true about yourself. Being a people pleaser is destructive.
1) What five albums would you grab as you ran out of a burning building?
- Jason Aldean - Relentless
- Merle Haggard - Ramblin' Fever
- Ray Charles - Pure Genius
- Jay Z - Blueprint
- Harry Connick, Jr. - To See You
2) What was the first concert you ever attended? How about the first record you ever bought?
Waylon Jennings was my first concert. The first record I bought was Steve Wariner - Life's Highway.
3) What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love the TV show "The Hills" on MTV. It's great TV!