10 Questions with ... Dave Lawrence
March 25, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
In college I got started at WERS/Boston (1990-1995). My positions included MD, Afternoon Program Coordinator, Afternoon Host, and Live Mix Engineer.
WBCN/Boston (1992-2001): Positions included afternoon drive producer for Mark Parenteau, Production Assistant, and Copywriter.
WZLX/Boston (1997-2002): Positions included morning drive producer for Charles Laquidara, Air Staff, Production Assistant, and Copywriter
KPOI/Honolulu (2002-2008): Positions included Midday and Afternoon Drive Host, and MD.
KHPR/Honolulu (Hawaii Public Radio) (2009-present): Host for NPR's "All Things Considered" broadcast statewide weekday afternoons.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
When I was a little kid my parents constantly exposed me to Philly area Rock radio stations and were into music, listening to albums often at home, and exposing me to artists or records they had (Woodstock, Santana, CSN, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Led Zeppelin).
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
As a radio listener, Bob Coburn, Earl Bailey, Pierre Robert and Howard Stern. As people in my life who had an influence on me: Mark Parenteau, Charles Laquidara, Neal Robert and Chuck Nowlin.
3) What makes your market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Having to broadcast over the Pacific Ocean to a series of islands makes it unusual. The fact that the state was once a sovereign country has enormous impact culturally and its demographics are singular in terms of comparison to other US cities, with a wide mix of Asian Pacific cultures and just one in five Caucasians in Honolulu.
Further, each island is made up of very different communities and has widely varying climate conditions, geographic layout, and even demographics that differ considerably from Oahu (where Honolulu is). Another thing that makes HPR different is we have two channels/streams: HPR1 and HPR2, so listeners have two unique programming options on the air at all times.
4) What is it about your show that you feel really makes it cut through?
"All Things Considered" is a national afternoon drive news and information show, and in two hours covers most major national stories while allowing us time to complement them with local news, features, interviews, local and visiting artists, and other material from across the state. We're the only statewide broadcaster, so it's unlike anything else on the dial for its connectivity, reaching communities far beyond Honolulu. Also equally important about cutting through: Honolulu, and Hawaii in general has an abundance of voice-tracked stale programming on the dial. With few regional operators offering anything compelling, the intellectual capacity, top shelf programming and well-produced public radio content stands out from other local frequencies.
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Keeping it alive as a medium people grow up with and feel is critical to their daily routine, and making the content so relevant that people resist the isolation of Pandora, or lack of local touch on satellite.
6) How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
The station has a growing social media presence with a Facebook page, Twitter feed and opportunities for people to share our webpage content with their favorite social media account(s). With a wide-ranging format featuring so much diversity, tastes and interests of our users vary a great deal, so I use my personal Facebook page and Twitter feed to also promote upcoming features and guests on my show.
7) What do you like best about working in this format compared to other genres?
Two things I enjoy a lot are the diversity of the artist interviews, and the fresh daily content. Instead of slinging around songs you've heard all too often and peppering in updates on what a format's artists are up to (always bound by the need to promote beer events and client-based remotes) each day on HPR is a fresh creation of the latest news and happenings from around the country and state. So it's a lot more engaging.
Growing up on rock and stifled by the increasing niche-formatting, it's a blast to have our guests also come from all over the map: from Journey to Chevelle, Eddie Pamieri to Smokey Robinson, George Clinton to Puddle Of Mudd. We get to talk to everybody! The blinders are off.
8) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I keep my eye on other public radio stations, the radio stations around the islands, our newspapers, other regional publications, and whenever I can I engage folks in probing conversation. Realizing how automated and soulless many other offerings are on our dial is a constant reminder of how vital HPR is in this market. We also do listener/member interaction events which are a great way to get direct feedback.
9) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Every day starts with a road map of things happening on NPR's end. Plus, we've got our own long range interview and feature plans. We then scan a lot of local papers, TV stations and other news sources to get a pulse on what's breaking across the islands. As a great mentor and boss, Charles Laquidara once told me, "A well-prepared show means there will be some great ideas left on the cutting room floor each day."
10) What type of features do you run on your show?
We have a calendar of live events, which runs at 4:20 each day on the drive-time version of ATC allowing for a colorful time signature. Mondays we do Stargazer, which connects us with a researcher at a local astronomy center who gives us a weekly stargazing and new space-related developments feature.
Thursdays we sometimes present local artists recorded live in our Atherton Performing Arts Studio throughout a given afternoon, showcasing their music in a sort of "house band" fashion.
Fridays we have the 5:30 Extended Interview, with a different major artist speaking with us each week; everything from visiting musicians, actors and other celebrities appearing in the islands or even "around the neighborhood" (we recently did a recurring four-part series on Ringo Starr's All Starr Band when they played other locations in the Asia Pacific).
And we have a new weekly feature in the works that will be like a round-up of water-cooler news stories in Australia.
What do you do in your spare time?
I do a lot of walking, occasional beach visits, increasingly rare snorkeling, learning about international destinations, travel, watching movies, listening to music, hiking and doing errands.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Right now it's music I discovered in Australia on a recent trip, new and old: Shane Howard (of Goanna) and his incredible song "Solid Rock"... up and coming Aussie rockers Mojo Jacket (think Jack Johnson meets Squeeze). I'm also checking out Sir Cliff Richard who graciously did an interview with me there so I'm indulging in his work from over four decades.
Please describe the best promotion you've ever been part of?
When I first moved here, we did this thing called the Month of British Rock for a few years each March. Some of the many elements included having a featured British artist each week, customized sweepers for all the UK acts, tons of fun UK-themed prizes, and most fun of all, we created characters who were your on-air hosts that would appear in recorded vignettes and imaging throughout the month.
Who is your best friend in the business?
Probably Jack the Booking Agent -- Jack Randall from Ted Kurland Agency in Boston. One of my best buds and I appreciate both his camaraderie and encyclopedic knowledge of music. Also my best bud Faye Archambeau, who has filmed and/or shot photos of countless artist sessions out here.
What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Artist interviews are the most fun part of the gig.