10 Questions with ... Brian Fink
August 4, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Job Title: iHeartRadio - Program Director, EDM Brand Company: Evolution / Ambassador
Job Title: Production Director, On-Air Talent Company: iHeartMedia/Tampa
1) How did you get your start in radio?
The casting couch ... just like everyone else. (right?) I actually started as a prize pig when I was 13, winning everything at Q105 in Tampa, FL then 93.3FLZ. Through this, I became good acquaintances with a lot of the on-air staff. When I was 16, one of the DJs suggested I start interning at the legendary 93.3FLZ, which, without me realizing it, was their way of getting me to stop winning. And it worked.
2) You do production for a number of stations, you program Evolution and do a lot of appearances in the Tampa market; how do you manage your time?
Don't forget on-air six days a week in Tampa, part of the programming team for the Evolution Beatport Show, do some imaging production for Evolution, and do production for some national campaigns. (
To be 100% honest, I don't know how I manage my time. I've always been a workhorse, working two jobs early on while I was working at the station. As everyone knows (or should) in this day and age of the industry, you can't just do one thing; you have to be versed in many areas. Otherwise you're a one trick pony ... and one-trick ponies aren't even useful at birthday parties for 10-year-olds anymore. If you're a jack-of-all-trades, you can move around wherever you're needed.
I manage my time by continuing to go-go-go to get everything done, then decompress. When your career is your passion, you do whatever it takes to be successful at it. And then when I switch off, boy do I switch off. Anyone up for a quick 13,500-ft. skydive?
3) Where do you go to find music?
Promo Only really does a great job of getting important music to us, and in this age of music being thrown at you by EVERYONE, it's good to have a service like that. All of the VPs of Promotions and other promo people at the U.S. and international labels are also really good about getting their music to us. I've also got some great connects with some indies who do an incredible job of getting the good tunes in front of me. Besides that, I also scour Beatport, talk to our mix show DJs, plus we get a lot of music directly from the artists/managers.
4) Programming a National channel is different than programming a local one. How do you go about determining what music goes on Evolution?
I like to discuss music with as many people as I can, get a good scope of the musical playing field. I talk tunes with the national Evolution staff, Evolution Tampa staff, our mix show DJs; get their thoughts on new music, and what they've been seeing, hearing, and playing. I also pay attention to what's big at the festivals and in sets. I look at some charts, but don't like to base everything on that ... since most charts are built around station plays, not around what might be popping in the "real" world. There are so many good dance records by smaller artists that don't get support ... I like to try to find those. A good song is a good song and belongs on the radio if it fits.
Then I take all that info and feedback and hop on calls with Jim Clerkin, our MD for Evolution. And we discuss further. Jim is also a great catalyst to keep me in check sometimes. With being pulled in so many different directions, it's great to have someone on the other end of a phone you can rely on, with a great ear and an immense history with dance music as well, to slap you back into place ... and Jim does that.
5) Evolution runs a number of specialty shows on the channel; are these shows used to spotlight new music?
Very much so. The incredibly vast roster of major artists' shows we have on Evolution gives the listener the chance to hear new music from all ends of the spectrum. Plus Evolution's exclusive daily All Gone Pete Tong show, hosted by Pete and programmed by Pete and his team, and the weekly Evolution Beatport Show w/ Pete Tong, are perfect vessels for spotlighting new music first.
6) Pete Tong has been the face of Evolution, how close do you work with him?
We have been blessed to have Pete Tong as the face of Evolution; he is an incredible ambassador for the dance scene, the brand, and an absolute legend. I work with Pete as much as our hectic schedules allow; not only on Evolution business, but other campaigns, and discussions about talent and music. Pete is an incredible asset to us and it's a privilege to be able to work with him.
7) How much freedom do your mix show DJs have when it comes to selecting music for their shows?
Complete freedom. I have these talented artists and DJs on the station so when we go to mix programming, the listeners can experience something outside of our regular programming. I want the listeners to get to know the artists and DJs thru their choice of music, not thru my choice of music for them.
Luckily there's a big difference between the type of listener of Top 40 radio and the type of listener of Dance radio, which allows me to give them that freedom.
8) What type of research do you use to determine what moves up or out on the channel?
Building stories, some charts, some sales on larger impacting records, how they sound on the station, and gut.
9) How much does social media impact Evolution?
Social media is an incredible tool to help you; a great way for your listeners to reach you and for you to reach back, and a great way to see stories building on music and artists, but it's not something you can allow to have a major impact. The scope of social media is constantly changing, so you just have to use it for what it is...an incredible tool to add to your repertoire.
10) If you could go see one DJ spin this evening who would it be?
Wow, that's a tough one. Probably Armin van Buuren.
Even though I've seen Armin countless times, I've had the incredible opportunity of sitting down, hanging with him, and chatting on multiple occasions. So I feel I know him a little as a person AND as one of the biggest DJs in the world on stage. Armin does such an amazing job of telling a story when he plays, taking you thru a little musical adventure with him ... and personally knowing him just adds to that experience.
We're driving in your car and you plug in your iPhone, what are we going to be surprised to hear playing?
Ready to have your mind blown? If it's not listening to Evolution or new music, it's gonna be some James Taylor, G. Love, or maybe even some Air Supply. I know ... I'll hand in my man card at the end of this.
If we wanted to go have a good meal in Tampa, where are we going to eat?
If you're paying, Shula's Steakhouse. If I'm paying, Outback Steakhouse.
Festival or club ... where do you prefer hearing a DJ spin at?
Festival. It's just a completely different vibe when you're experiencing it not only with tens of thousands of people, but with your closest friends at the festival as well.
What is your favorite festival to attend?
Has to be TomorrowWorld. The attention to detail they put into that festival is just incredible.
I'm also partial to Sunset Music Festival in Tampa because I host the main stage every year, and that's an unbelievable experience.