10 Questions with ... Marne Mason
June 18, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started as an Intern at KWWR/KXEO/Mexico, MO while in college at Mizzou in 1996.
I moved to Zimmer Radio Group in Jefferson City and Columbia, MO where I worked until 2000. I joined Cumulus in Pensacola Florida until 2002 when I moved to Syracuse, NY. I worked for a small company there before joining Clear Channel's (Y94 FM) in May of 2004. I took the PD position in Greenville in January of 2008.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I was obsessed with radio when I was a kid. I have always LOVED music. I would sit in my room and listen to "Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown" and tape my favorite songs onto a cassette. But it wasn't just the music, I loved (and still remember!) a lot of the comedy bits and parody songs that morning shows did. It wasn't until years later that I realized they were using a service and stations all over the country were playing those same bits and songs.
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Kathy Rowe, my PD at Y94FM in Syracuse, and Steve Geofferies (former OM of CC Greenville and current OM at CC Charlotte).
I did middays for Kathy Rowe, I co-hosted a morning show with her and I was her APD. She really helped me grow in every aspect of the job. She made me a better jock and gave me the foundation to become a better PD.
Steve Geofferies taught me invaluable lessons in dealing with people and helped me learn some tough lessons in being an effective manager. They both instilled in me the importance of people in this business. How important it is to surround yourself with smart people and then trust those people to do the things you need them to do. I can't thank them enough for that.
3) What is it about your station that you feel really makes it cut through?
Our goal as a station is to provide hip, active women in their 30's a station they actually want to listen to. For too long, these women had to settle. It was either a boring AC that failed to understand how fun and vibrant their lives are, or it was a Top 40 that meant they had to sit through lots of Hip Hop songs they didn't like in order to hear the contemporary Pop music they wanted. They were also tired of being talked to like 14 year olds. They were looking for someone to stand up and say "We understand your lifestyle because it is our lifestyle, too! You want to know what the freshest new music is and you also want to hear some of your older favorites. Here it is." We work to make sure our music, our jocks, our promotions all speak to these women.
4) What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole?
The struggle for all radio stations across the country is finding unique, local content. Music, entertainment news, weather... most everything listeners need in their daily lives is available in hundreds of different places. We need to give them content that is unique to our stations and that helps reinforce the on-air brand. Radio station websites are the only ones in the country that just happen to have 100,000 watt marketing tools at their disposal. We need to take advantage in both directions; promote our on-air content on our websites and our web content on the air.
5) What do you like best about working in this format?
After working at various Gold-based stations for the past few years, it is exciting and challenging to be in a contemporary format. Our switch to Hot AC last July gave me the chance to work at a station that I would be a P1 of, even if I didn't work here. That's fun for me!
6) Besides your own, what format would you like to program and why?
I would love to program a Country station. I have loved Country since I was a kid growing up on the farm in North Dakota and listening to AM radio. The format has so many incarnations, from the Garth era to the Female Pop sound, it interests me a lot.
I am also intrigued (read that as jealous) of a format that has such loyal, passionate listeners that feel such connections to the music, the artists and the stations.
7) How much leeway do you give your jocks to talk between records?
I'm lucky to have some amazing talent on the station (Zac Morgan, Lizz Ryals, Dave Kent, Aaron Rogers, Ric Rush). While they are given direction on station promotions and we are sure to meet client expectations on sales related items, they have quite a bit of freedom to talk about the things that they think our listeners are talking about. I am happy to say that they do relatable, interesting breaks every single day that reinforce how great they are at their jobs.
8) How did you get your on-air name?
I started out in news and I had a virtually unpronounceable last name. Our afternoon anchor was going to introduce a recorded package I had done, and he told me as I went to record the voice-over that I had better change my last name because he couldn't say mine. It was a 30 second conversation with my news director, which was all the time we had before the story needed to be done.
9) How do you stay in touch with the latest music trends?
Trends are being affected by more influences than ever before. That means all of us in radio need to be in more places than ever before to try and figure out what the next big thing will be. The whole staff of My 102.5 is involved in trend-spotting. Some of us are focused the Internet, movies and TV shows. Others use their kids to try to predict what's coming.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
You can have the best promotions in the world with the best jocks in the country, but if your music isn't right, you will never have consistent success.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be an Advertising Executive. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, I just knew I loved coming up with tag lines for products (I am STILL jealous of Southwest Airlines' "You are now free to move about the country").
What do you do in your spare time?
SLEEP! Not only do I do a morning show but my boyfriend is a chef. Our schedules are completely opposite. So in order to get any time together at all, I sleep in the evening and get up when he gets home around midnight. I stay up for an hour or two, and then go back to sleep until my 3:45 alarm. Under-eye concealer is my new best friend!
What is the most popular giveaway item at your station?
T-shirts. We've gotten a lot of great items over the years but shirts always seem to be our most requested item.
What is your favorite TV show?
Do I have to pick just one? I love "30 Rock," "Parks & Recreation" and "How I Met Your Mother." I am probably supposed to say things like "Dateline" and "Meet the Press" but I hate to lie...
What do you like to read?
The last couple things I've read were Tiny Fey's "Bossypants" and Mindy Kaling's "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)."
Both Tina and Mindy have been able to achieve great success in an industry that is still pretty well dominated by men. More importantly though, they are both just plain hilarious! Seriously, they are two of the funniest women on the planet. And I love that their humor is only enhanced by their intelligence. I am a true believer that smart humor is the funniest thing in the world.
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
When I was working in Columbia Missouri, a listener sent me a lock of his hair tucked inside a Bible. Cuh-ree-py.
What do you consider the key to your success?
Never saying "that's not my job". I think this industry rewards people who are willing to learn new things and who are multi-dimensional. You can be the best jock in a building but if that is all you bring to the table, you are going to be considered less valuable than someone who can also help in the promotions or digital departments.