10 Questions with ... Phathead
April 10, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Hofstra University Radio 88.7 WRHU1995-1997(Program Director/Morning Host)
- Howard Stern Show 1997 Intern K-Rock
- WXXP(now WPTY)Party 105.3/101.5FM-Dance/Rhythmic on Long Island 1998-2002(from van driver to Program Director over the course of 4 years. Afternoon and midday host.
- WBLI 106.1 Long Island-Top 40 2002-2004(Swing/Weekends. On 5-7 days per week)
- WMJC 94.3 HOT AC Long Island2004-2010 (Morning Host. Promotions and Production)
- WJVC 96.1 Country Long Island (Mornings/Program Director)
1) Congrats on the new gig and launching WJVC. Tell us what you are excited about at the station so far.
The best part of this whole thing are the listeners. I know it sounds like a cliché, but think about how passionate Country fans are. Then multiply that by 10 in a market that hasn't had the format in over a decade. The listeners are truly fans in every sense of the word. Fanatical is not even the word. Imagine the biggest sports fan rooting for their team in the Championship game. That is the passion we see every day on our Facebook page "My Country 96.1", in our personal emails and on the street. It's truly amazing and makes me say with full confidence that this is the best format I've ever been apart of. To be honest, some of the comments are so amazing that it scares me. They will tell you how much they love you and they also have no problem telling you what they don't like.
2) What drew you to work in radio and how did you get your start?
Truthfully I always knew I had it in me but like most kids I didn't know what I wanted to do so I followed my dad. I was at Binghamton University in Upstate NY, studying accounting. After almost 4 years of that I transferred home and ended up at Hofstra. The day I found the radio station at Hofstra I knew my life was on track and changing for the better. I owe all of my start in college to Bruce Avery, Ed Ingles, and Michelle Lisi. The best part about Hofstra's radio station is that it was totally professional and still is amazing. 24 hours, 200 participants at any time, community volunteers, and 2 full time faculty members just to run it! Not to mention some of the students get paid to run it like I did when I was Program Director. I recommend it to everyone who wants to get into the business!
3) Your bio says you had an internship with The Howard Stern Show at KROCK. How was Howard to work with and did you get to do any fun stunts while you were with the station?
I was not involved in any memorable stunts but what I remember the most are four things. 1. Howard was a true professional and great guy. Every morning he would walk down the hall and say hello to everyone as he entered the studio. A really nice guy. At the end of the internship we all got a bag of goodies and a note written by Howard. I still have it and I gotta get it in a frame! 2. I spent most of my time with Scott the Engineer doing production and editing some best-of reels (yes, reel to reels, razorblades, etc.) 3. From time to time we were sent to Howard's office with a giant box of mail including videos, letters, etc. We sat with a VCR and a pad of paper taking notes of what was in the mail. Some of the stuff I saw I cannot mention LOL, but it was fun! 4. Out of all the stars I met there the two that stand out were Chris Rock and Steven Tyler. Both went out of their way to come up to ME and say hello and shake my hand. "Hey, nice to meet you, really glad to be here." That kind of stuff. I'll never forget how genuine they both were. Watching Steven on American Idol now I believe he really does care about those kids. He was the same way back in 1997 when I met him.
4) Long Island is very long, 120 miles or something like that from Nassau County out to the eastern tip. Does your signal give you good coverage?
We have really good coverage. I would say we cover at least 75% of Long Island. Our signal basically starts at the Nassau/Suffolk border and goes all the way out to Montauk. We are currently working on the other 25% as we speak!
5) Long Island has not had a Country station in 10-years. Are they hungry for their own station?
See Question 1. Take my answer and multiply THAT by 10! Now you know how hungry they are!
6) Where will Country artists play shows? Are Matty T's, Westbury Music Fair and Nassau Coliseum all going strong?
The club Matty T's is a great spot for us. We have done great stuff there already, including a Rascal Flatts concert after party. As a matter of fact Jay DeMarcus of RF gave us a huge shout out on stage and we have put the audio into our top hour ID. It's awesome and really gives us the stamp of approval that we have arrived! We are hosting an evening at Matty's in April with the new artist Sarah Darling. It's a really awesome place with great people. Westbury is now the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. We have Dierks Bentley on March 27th, Trace Adkins on August 6th and Darius on September 3rd. The artists are starting to come back! Nassau Coliseum just had Rascal Flatts with Luke Bryan and Chris Young. An amazing show! Just before we got the station on the air Carrie Underwood was there. Plus, we do a great Country night every Wednesday at the Nutty Irishman in Bay Shore. We took a nothing night that was dark and the first week put 500 people in there. It's been steady ever since and a really great night for us.
7) Are there a lot of Country shows in Manhattan and will you promote concerts there with ticket giveaways etc?
We will give away tickets all around the tri-state area. Manhattan, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, whatever we can get our hands on. We are currently doing a Kenny Chesney promotion for Mohegan Sun as we speak. The Country fans will travel as you know!
8) What makes your station specific to Long Island, and can you be local when you cover an area that seems so big?
That's the thing about Long Island. If you don't know the area it's hard to grasp this but let me try. The people of Long Island are very proud, local, and mostly homegrown people. They take it very personal if you come here as an artist and say "Hello New York." Tip to the country artists. NEVER say "Hello New York" when on stage in Long Island. This is LONG ISLAND and there is a huge difference! That is why over 100 miles of area seems very small and intimate. I can be in Riverhead off exit 73 of the LIE at a car dealer and because of my phoner a listener will drive from exit 48 in Plainview to see us. Many many miles away, but for some reason it feels like it's around the corner. On the air we also try to mention towns by name in our weather forecasts, shout out as many listeners by name, and respond to EVERY post on Facebook. We have delis and bagel stores that call up to shout out their business. It all seems like one big family. That's just the way Long Island is. To sum this all up, the town names may change from exit to exit but Long Island is really one big 100 mile town!
9) Who are some of your radio mentors and what is the best advice they have given you?
Who are some of your radio mentors and what is the best advice they have given you?
Oh boy, please forgive me if I leave anyone out. Here we go: College: Bruce Avery, Ed Ingles, Michelle Lisi. First Job: Skyy Walker (Party, WKTU, Sirius, now Skyytracks) Vic Latino (Party, WKTU, now VP of Programming for my current company JVC Broadcasting, he hired me for this gig), John Caracciolo(President of JVC Broadcasting, also hired me for my first ever pro job in radio at Party). Murphdawg (been with Cox for a decade, currently hosts a 3 city simulcast morning show and one of my best friends in the world). JJ Rice and Al Levine from WBLI. I also have to mention the influence Howard Stern had on me at a young age and then getting to work for him. Cande Roth, who has been my better half for almost 8 years now. My work wife, not my real wife! Also, great work here from Jay Letterman and Amanda Clarke. They do a ton on the air and behind the scenes! Best advice is probably something we used to say a long time ago when we first signed Party FM (WXXP at the time, now WPTY) on the air in 1998. It's also something Vic reminds me of all the time. "Radio is meant to be fun."
10) You have done it all in radio, from van driver to promotions to PD and every on air shift at some point. So what is your favorite part about working in radio and what keeps you going?
What keeps me going is simple, and every true radio person knows this. Every time you think you are getting out of the business, they pull you back in! When it's in your blood that's it! My favorite part will always be waking up early and being the first voice the listener hears. I'm the guy that is getting them up and ready for the day, breaking the big story, giving away the tickets they want so bad. There is nothing better than a listener emailing me how they need to start their day by listening to us in the morning. I also love hearing the songs first in our office and hearing those "first listen" records. Jason/Kelly "Don't You Wanna Stay". Keith Urban "Without You". Chris Young "Tomorrow". Rascal Flatts "I Won't Let Go". Luke Bryan's new one "Country Girl." The songs that you hear 30 seconds of and you lean back in your chair and say "That's a smash!!!". We usually can't wait to share it with the listener and have the jock that's on test it on the air right away! We have that type of freedom at this company which is something else that keeps me going. JVC Broadcasting is a locally owned, small, family company with 4 great radio properties. There's a lot of wiggle room to test stuff and have a good time. Remember, "Radio Is Meant To Be Fun!". P.S. My wife Dana and 2 little girls Lia and Abigail are always on my mind. I'm not trying to be mushy, but I think about their smiles and seeing them when I get home. That's what runs through my mind every day!
1) I know one of your dreams is to meet Carrie Underwood. Here's your chance to let Carrie know why she should visit Long Island and stop by WJVC.
Funny thing is I had a conversation the other day with one of the major reps for Carrie's record company. He mentioned to me that it was too bad we weren't up and running in November when Carrie was at the Nassau Coliseum. He then made the mistake of telling me he would have brought Carrie to the station. It was at that point when I dropped the phone! Hey Carrie, if you are reading this, I knew you were winning Idol after you did "Alone" by Heart. We play every one of your hits. When we first signed on the station 2 months ago we played "Mama's Song" 130 times per week in our limited rotation we had set up. P.S. When we meet my wife has to be there or else she will never speak to me again. Also- I know I sound like a crazy man, but really I'm not. How's that?
2) What are you listening to when you are not working?
Truly, now it's all Country all the time. My Country 96.1 is always on. However, I am a HUGE sports nut and will have 660 WFAN on as well. Oh and I also listen to my wife Dana and 2 daughters ordering me around! 3 dogs barking as well!
3) When you do make it out of Long Island, what's your favorite place to travel to and what's your favorite thing to do there?
VEGAS! My wife and I love to go. We both play poker and can sit in the poker room all day! Other than that here are our favorite spots in Vegas. Paris buffet for breakfast. Wynn buffet for dinner. Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay shops. Luxor hotel or Mirage to stay in. Also, Nellis Air Force Base. My wife is Active Duty Military Police for 12 years now and still going strong! We stop by the base all the time to check out the Thunderbirds, stock up on bottled water and snacks when we first land in Vegas. As you can see quite a bit of our travel revolves around food! CRUISES! WE LOVE CRUISES TOO!