10 Questions with ... Mary Lynne O'Neal
February 27, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began my radio career in 2003 as a weekly teen talk show host/news reporter for Country KMHT (103.9 FM)/Marshall, TX. After I graduated high school that year, I went to work as an overnight and weekend jock/production assistant for Country KXKZ (Z-107.5)/Ruston, LA in 2004 while in college at Louisiana Tech University. I interned for Premiere Radio Networks' The Big D & Bubba Show the summer of 2005, and later that summer they hired me as Assistant Producer. I moved to Nashville and transferred to Belmont University, where I graduated in August 2007. I joined All Access in October 2007 and accepted a promotion position with Cold River Records in February 2011, with an official start date of March 7th.
1) All Access was your first full time job out of college correct? However, you worked with Big D and Bubba beforehand. You must have learned a lot from that experience-what was that like?
Yup, All Access was my first full time job, but I worked part-time with Big D & Bubba every morning before my college classes. It was an awesome experience, to get to see how a syndicated show worked. Big D & Bubba are SO interactive with their listeners and there was never a boring day at the office. I got some air time too, doing some of the stunts and the fun bits like "Name That Power Tool" and "Gasp For Gas."
2) Did you want to do radio when you were a kid?
To be 100% honest with you, I really wanted to be a singer when I was growing up. But I figured if I got in radio that would lead me to a career in music eventually once I met the right people. I worked for a few Country radio stations in high school and college. I just thought it was fun getting to play my favorite songs on the air and having my voice heard on the radio. Of course, my parents recorded everything on cassette tapes. (They had to position the antenna juuuuust right so they could hear me on the air when I was working at KXKZ/Ruston, LA.) Getting to work for Big D & Bubba was like a dream come true for me, because I had been listening to them on my local radio station back home in Texas for years. During my time at BDB, I realized that there were other facets of the music industry that sparked my interest, so I decided to try something different - which led me to a career at All Access.
3) Tell us about your own goals as an artist, because you sing and play. Will you continue doing that as a sideline?
After I got my start in radio and eventually moved to Nashville, I realized how hard it can be to "make it big" and how crazy life can be as an artist - so I altered my plan a little. I still sing every now and then, but I do it for fun and because I want to, not because I'm trying to get a record deal. Most recently I have been singing with indie Country artist Lee Gibson at his acoustic shows, and I've been recording some songs with a friend of mine, Damien Boggs, who writes very cool bluesy Americana/Folk music. Damien and I are about to start doing some gigs together at coffee shops in and around Nashville. By the way, if you're ever interested in checking those guys out, I highly recommend them - and you may be able to catch me at a few of their shows. Check out more info at www.reverbnation.com/damienboggs and www.leegibsonmusic.com. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the plugs!)
4) You have been an All Access employee for 4 years. What kinds of things do you know now, that you didn't going in?
I never realized going into this job how quickly the music/radio business evolves and changes until I was writing story after story for Net News on a daily basis. And I never knew social media would be a HUGE as it is now. When I first joined All Access I only had a MySpace page, and that was how I found new music and did my networking. I had a Facebook page when it was first started in 2004 as a college-only community, but I never really used it much until several years later. Over the course of a few short years, MySpace faded into the distance, Facebook rose to popularity and now Twitter is HUGE. At All Access, using social media we can share stories instantly with our fans, followers, subscribers, etc. In turn, those people that see our posts click on the links and bring more traffic to the site, making it grow at an amazingly fast rate.
5) Aside from delivering bagels, what other memories will you take away?
Wow, where do I start? I have had some awesome memories here at All Access. One of the coolest things I got to experience here was being a part of the launch of All Access version 3.0. I remember the first time I saw the new version of the site and I was in awe. To witness that coming into being is something I will never forget. I will miss Jim and Karen's great sense of humor. I love how every time an artist comes to visit, Jim picks up their guitar and starts playing "Smoke On The Water." (He rocks that song, by the way!) I will miss the All Access company gathering in Malibu every year before the holidays. Every single person on staff is like family to me. It was always fun to spend time together as a company and of course, eat delicious food and enjoy the sunny California weather. I'll always remember all of the great people I've met along the way during my time here - including that one guy at the front desk in the Sony Music Nashville building that always greeted me every time I delivered bagels there. After all this time I never caught his name, but his smile and friendly hello always made my day.
6) What will you do in your position at Cold River?
My title is Regional Director of Promotion. I'll be calling radio stations and asking them to play Katie Armiger's latest single, "Best Song Ever." I'll also be visiting those stations with (and without) Katie and traveling with her to different events. As of right this second, we have not determined my region yet, but I'm hoping to carry over some relationships I've made with some of the same stations I worked with during my time at All Access. I look forward to helping the rest of the Cold River promotion team (Jim Dandy, Jeff Davis and Staci Schane) in pushing Katie's single to the top!
7) Are you excited about working with Katie?
I am! I think she is the best kept secret as far as female Country artists go. She's got the look, she's got the voice and her music appeals to all ages. She's put out three albums (her latest, "Confessions Of A Nice Girl," features the hit high-school graduation anthem "Leaving Home" and her current chart-climbing single "Best Song Ever") and I really feel like this is her breakout year. The "Best Song Ever" video has been #1 for three consecutive weeks on GAC's Top 20 Countdown, and the song has really been getting some good buzz lately, as she makes her to way up the charts to Top 40 and beyond. I feel like I'm joining Cold River at a really exciting time and I look forward to watching Katie grow even more!
8) What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? Do you feel like you will still be in the music industry?
I have no clue. I'd like to say yes, but I also know how fast this industry changes. There's no way of knowing what it will be like even five years from now, much less 10 years from now. I also know how hard it is sometimes to work in the music business and have a family at the same time. And 10 years down the road I see myself being married with a kid or two. All I know is that I am SO passionate about music that I don't ever see myself NOT doing something that was related to music.
9) What do you like so much about social media? We know that you are an avid Facebook and Twitter follower.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are so great for reconnecting with old friends, finding new friends, chatting with those friends new and old, finding out about new music, as well as sharing the latest news and happenings. It's total instant gratification. Whenever I get a new cell phone, the first apps I download are Facebook and Twitter. I enjoy being connected. (But don't get me wrong, I love to disconnect every now and then!)
10) What is your favorite thing about living in Nashville, aside from music?
It's a down home country kind of place, but still has all of the culture, arts, entertainment, eateries, etc. of a big city. I love that you can drive 30 minutes and you're in the rolling hill country filled with beautiful scenery and in 30 minutes another direction, you're at the mall. It's just a great place to live. I'd love to raise a family here one day.
1) Will you still use an All Access mousepad?
You bet I will! I'm taking the one out of my office home with me. Karen, you'll just have to bring yours in here and put a new one on the front desk.
2) How many times do you think you've been IM'd by Joel Denver in the last 4 years?
It hasn't been as much as you think. But I'd guess probably around 200 times. There's been lots of LOLs and good chats with Joel. :)
3) Will you still start work at 7am at your new job and work holidays?
Umm, no. I'll leave that up to the early Music Row risers such as yourselves.