10 Questions with ... Dave Lawrence
May 16, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Going to Emerson College, Boston, I worked at WERS as MD/afternoon host; then at WBCN/Boston as PM Drive Producer for Mark Parenteau. I then became Producer for Boston morning legend Charles Laquidara and joined the part-time air staff at WZLX/Boston. In 2002, I got my first gig in Honolulu doing MD/afternoons, at 105.9 KAHA (now KPOI). That lasted five years until 2008, and in 2009 I started with Hawaiian Public Radio.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
My parents played Philly rock radio in the car, and rock records around the house. Hearing it on the radio added a sense of community and companionship. Classic shows like "Rockline" and The King Biscuit Flower Hour" were also favorites as a kid.
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
First and foremost, my previous bosses Mark Parenteau and Charles Laquidara along with my Boston PDs Buzz Knight and Oedipus. Growing up it was Pierre Robere, Earl Bailey, Bob Coburn and Howard Stern.
3) What makes the Hawaii market different from the Mainland? Also, how does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
The demographic here in Hawaii is vastly different than most US cities, with the ethnic mix making it the most diverse cosmopolitan city in the country. Multiple ratings dominators play a reggae-based format which is very different from most mainland cities.
Also, Hawaii is really several markets: Honolulu stations also cover some of Maui and the western part of the Big Island. Yet each major island has its own smaller radio market. HPR has two program streams, with one statewide and the other almost there. So HPR is unique in the market I'm in (Honolulu), and unique in the state as the only statewide broadcaster.
Also, we're the most militarized state in the country with 55,000 active duty soldiers and sailors here, plus 100,000+ dependents and vets!
4) What percentage of Hawaii Public Radio is news vs. music? What type of features do you run on the station?
It's probably 50/50. There are a ton of music shows, but also all of the major NPR and other public radio shows, like "ATC," "Morning Edition," "Fresh Air," etc. Features include "Hawaiian Word of the Day" at 5:30, a daily statewide "Community Calendar" at 4:20, and an interesting new weekly feature "Stargazer" is debuting soon with a weekly guide of what to look for in the skies above the islands.
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Staying relevant to younger listeners, continuing to provide content that an iPod or Pandora can't offer. Making sure the mobile product is as good as possible, getting easy to use Internet radio tuners into cars and transcending into being an equally effective online brand.
6) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
I read the daily news from a variety of local sources. I get plugged in with stories on neighboring islands, I create a series of breaks from templates that guide me through the show, and I constantly revisit the major news sites and incoming releases.
7) How often does your air staff front and back-sell songs or features?
During music shows they are pretty good about back-selling, and throughout the ATC broadcast I'm always front-selling the next local break and what seems like the most potentially water cooler-topic ahead.
8) What are some of the things you like most about your job at HPR?
I'm grateful for the wide array of artists I get to speak to and interact with. From The Deftones to Larry Carlton, Brian Wilson to Sevendust, Goo Goo Dolls to Willie Nelson, Henry Rollins to Boz Scaggs... the variety is exciting and rewarding and it really keeps me on my toes. It's a thrill to connect with people from truly diverse musical backgrounds.
9) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd like to see smaller companies buy back radio stations and not need to squeeze them so hard to feed corporate headquarters elsewhere. There's enough money to be raised if a level of that greed mentality can be sliced off.
10) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
One time at 'ZLX I started the overnight shift with the spot log for the wrong day. We were starting the day before Christmas, and I had the Christmas Day log by accident... It took until the middle of the day before someone realized "Hey, these spot loads seem pretty light?" Sorry Buzz! : )
1) Who is your best friend in the business?
Jack Randall at Ted Kurland Agency in Boston.
2) Who has been your favorite interview of all time?
In person? Probably Ozzy Osbourne, Roger Daltrey of The Who, or Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. I interviewed them in their dressing rooms (they took such good care of me, I'll never forget it). On the phone? Pete Townshend or James Brown?...It's a tie.
3) What are your thoughts on the new season of American Idol?
YIKES! Not a watcher of that show sorry. "Hawaii 5-0" and "The Event" are my two shows (outside of the news, which I've always been addicted to on TV - My favorite news anchors right now are Pauline Chiou and Nina Dos Santos on CNN International's World Business Today, on here at 10p HST/4a EST).
4) What is your favorite moment or experience at your current station?
Last year Ziggy Marley was a telephone guest and I invited him to visit the studio when he got to town. After arriving in Honolulu, he took me up on the offer and we spent almost an hour recording an epic life-spanning interview in the HPR studios. He even played acoustic for me. That was a career highlight for sure!
5) How is broadcasting where you live meaningful to you?
It's a good feeling to come from Boston to Honolulu and to be able to connect with people. Hawaii is a special place and there is a real spirit of "aloha" that's undeniable. Loving cities and the beach, Honolulu combines the environments with a stellar landscape and a unique cultural cross-section, in a state that is spread over very different islands & communities. The mix of good vibes, great weather and gorgeous scenery is hard to beat!