10 Questions with ... Tom Morgan
January 30, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WOKI (100.3/98.7 The River)/Knoxville, TN (AAA) - (2003-2006) - I started out doing weekends, then I was promoted to 7-midnight during my senior year in college. After graduating, I was promoted to afternoon drive. I have a lot of great memories working for this station as it laid the ground work for an exciting career!
WIVK/Knoxville, TN (Country) - (2005-2006) - I just worked weekends/swing for this station, but it was truly an honor to be a part of an award winning staff!
WCYK/Charlottesville, VA - (Country) - (2006-2010) - I started out as MD/afternoon drive host. I was later promoted to APD/Mornings. This station really taught me the business from the inside out. In Knoxville, I was on the air and I did a few things in promotions. In Charlottesville, I found myself doing everything from music scheduling, to imaging, to putting together solid book promotions. I like to call my duties at CYK as "all the above."
WSJO (SoJO 104.9)/Atlantic City, NJ (Hot AC) - (2010-present) - I started out doing afternoon drive, and today I am doing mornings and imaging for the station. I can honestly say that I have had a blast being a part of the family at SoJO and Townsquare Media. In my short time so far, I've learned a ton just working with an incredibly creative and talented staff.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I grew up in the business. My Uncle was in radio for a while (now owner of Spotland Productions in Nashville, TN). My Father was in radio for 30 years, programming stations in the Norfolk and VA Beach markets. I always had fun going to work with dad and filing records, organizing carts numerically, and pressing buttons in the production studios. (Surprisingly, nothing blew up).
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
- Mike Hammond - PD WIVK/Knoxville, TN
- Joe Kelly - PD WPUR and WSJO/Atlantic City, NJ
- Joel Rabb- Consultant and Owner of Joel Rabb Country Radio and Media Consulting
- Max Hunter- PD Monticello Media/Charlottesville, VA
- Sarah Ripley- PD WVMP/Roanoke, VA
- Heather DeLuca - APD/MD WSJO/Atlantic City, NJ
There are many, many others! So if you're not on the "list" and I've worked with you, please don't be offended!
3) What makes your market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
South Jersey prides itself on everything local. South Jersey radio is included. I could go on the air tomorrow morning and talk about the "craziest way you've injured yourself," and I would get a few decent phone calls and Facebook and web site comments.
However, if I discuss whether or not the beaches at Wildwood should continue to be free of charge, LOOK OUT! I would also add that we have more slot machines than people.
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
The biggest challenge is the amount of competition radio has today. When it comes to music, entertainment, and information these days people have many options. Rather than get bitter and whine about terrestrial radio "that once had its hay-day and will soon go away," we have to choose to embrace these options and use them for our benefit.
5) What do you like best about working in the Hot AC format compared to other genres?
Personally, I'm a music geek. I love to work for any format that gives different flavors of music. I find that the Hot AC format is not a cookie-cutter format, in that the sky is the limit when it comes to the music that fits our format. There are a ton of songs you can have fun with in the Gold category, while also finding variety in our currents and re-currents.
6) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
LISTEN to your audience. Find out who they are, and why they love listening to your station. What do they like to do? Where do they like to go? Do the majority of your audience have a family? There are so many questions you can figure out with your overall audience, but once you have established a good sense of knowledge of who your audience is, only then you will know how to talk to them directly on the air.
7) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air? (dead air ... forget a mic was still on ... etc.)
I've pretty much done everything from editing a phone call live on the air, forgetting the mic was on (thankfully no cuss words were said), and accidently leaving the automation in manual while I walked outside thus going to dead air once the song is finished (unfortunately, I've never had access nor the authority to play Don Mclean's "American Pie" or Ario Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant.")
I also committed the ultimate sin when I mispronounced "Bob Dylan" at the first station I was working for. It was my first full week on the job, and I had gone from a small intranet College radio station to a 100,000 watt AAA station. I was so nervous. I was reading the lineup to the 2003 Bonnaroo festival extremely fast on the air. So fast, that "Bob DIELAN" gloriously came out of my mouth. For about a year, I forced to answer the question "How Could You??!!!"
8) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Be patient, and stay humble. Keep working hard and learn as much as you can. Once you have learned everything you could possibly learn at one station, only then do you move on. There will be times in this business where you may be frustrated. Heck, you might even grow to hate this business sometimes.
But always remember, there are thousands of people that want your job. You are just as replaceable as the next person in line, so don't get a big head. Always say "yes" when opportunity comes, and learn to say "no" when you're so burned out that you've lost your creativity. Find some true friends in this business, because those true friends will always be a phone call away when you move on. When choosing a market to work in, find a place that's best for you. Find a place that makes you happy. You don't have to move just because "it's a bigger market".
9) Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
I don't know what it is about me, but everywhere I go I end up having some kind of stalker/weird story. I currently have a listener who will Facebook message me, and continue to Facebook message me as if we we're having a conversation. In other words, she'll instant message me, and I hardly respond. An example of a "conversation" would sound a lot like this: "What are you doing today? I think you're going to have a great day today. I'm trying to figure out what dress to where tonight, what should I wear? Ahhhh I love these shoes. Do you like Ghostbusters? I'm bringing you cake to your office today. Ahh... wait, I don't have time to bake a cake, so I'll bring you cookies instead. I know how much you love cookies."
There was one time she actually brought a cake to the office, but the office doors were locked (we had closed early that day). So, she decided to put the cake on top of my production director's truck. I found this hilarious.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Always follow your gut. If your gut tells you not to say something on the air or do that certain bit...don't.
What are your hobbies?
I'm living on the beach here in Atlantic City, so anything that has to do with the ocean, I'm game. I also love just sitting around and listening to music. People say radio "is a business and not a hobby", and that may be true. But, I consider doing what I do for a living on my list of hobbies as well.
What is your favorite TV show?
"Dexter," "Californication," "Homeland," and "Family Guy." OH... and anything football!
What are your thoughts on the new season of American Idol?
Some people may disagree with me on this, but the last couple years of Idol really haven't impressed me. I'm not finding myself saying "WOW" when I hear some of the contestants. I really hope this is the season we can be introduced to another Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. If not, I will be asking myself when X-Factor returns to TV.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
When I was promoted afternoon drive at 22 years old in Knoxville, my PD at the time would constantly say, "Tom----your fired." Every staff meeting, he would open up the meeting by looking at me and saying "Tom---your fired." I would walk into his office to ask him a question, and of course he interrupted me to give me breaking-earth shattering news: "Tom---your fired."
At the time, I thought he was just giving me a hard time. But when the station flipped format, and he and I were the only ones left at the bar, he finally told me that there was a reason why he fired me every day. It was a lesson in humility. I'd thought that I had made it being a 22 year old "Radio Star." I learned very quickly what "here today, gone tomorrow meant." It was through my "firings" that I learned to have fun, keep my head down, and always be grateful for the opportunity that I have in front of me. I can't wait to be a PD someday, and fire the young guy every day!
The worst advice? I've been told that I should want to move to a different market every two years. I've never wanted to go up and down the dial, I've always wanted to settle down somewhere and have some roots.