10 Questions with ... Mandye Thomas
June 3, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started out where I was raised in Fresno, CA. I fell into an internship at X104, KMGX (X104) (We'll re-visit that later). The internship turned into weekends and eventually overnights. I moved away from home and headed for the coast to start my full-time radio career at KZOZ (93.3)/San Luis Obispo, CA where I did overnights (yeah, paying the dues) from '89-'90.
Then I ventured down the coast to KCAQ (Q105)/Oxnard-Ventura from 1990-'92, starting out in overnights, then adding News Director and morning co-host hats and that opened the door for other dayparts. I did a short stint on the "Morning Nut Hut" on KIOC (106.7)/Beaumont, TX from 1992-'93. From there, I came back to Southern California and back to KCAQ (Q105) where I was on a somewhat normal schedule with middays. I was also the APD and the Production Director. (I balance many hats very well). My career has continued in Ventura County ever since. I left KCAQ in 1995 for KBBY (yes, the same one.) It was 95.1 KBBY back then. I hosted middays, was the APD and the MD. I was there until 1999, when I left for PD/mornings at KKBE (Soft Hits 105.5)/Oxnard-Ventura.
Afternoons in Santa Barbara came calling in 2002, where I was the MD and eventually the PD at KRUZ 103.3, which moved down the dial to 97.5. I was there for three years. I was out the biz for a while. Seven years later, I'm back at KBBY, B95.1 doing middays again, and "lovin' every minute of it!" (Isn't that a Loverboy song?)
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
While I was attending Fresno City College, I was on the waiting list for the nursing program. I know, nursing is a far cry from radio, but hang on, this is actually going somewhere.
I met a jock at X104 while at the chiropractor, and I'm not quite sure how it happened... but he asked me if I'd be interested in an internship at the station. I thought "what the heck?" And once I got a taste of radio I never looked back. That's why I say "I fell into radio." Needless to say, mom and dad were very supportive of my decision to choose radio over nursing.
2) What makes your market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
The Oxnard/Ventura market is unique for me because you not only have the beach at your door, but you also have the mountains, which never gets old. I remind myself every day not to take it for granted. We are so close to Los Angeles, which has many concert venues and there's the Santa Barbara Bowl just 40 miles north of us. It's a great market to live and work in and the listeners are fun!
3) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Giving people a reason to listen to local radio instead of their iPods or satellite radio. With the growing popularity of satellite radio, advertisers have fewer mediums to promote their business. A local presence provides a certain level of trust with the listeners, in return they are offering their loyalty driving up the ratings and revenue.
Don't get me wrong, it's not all about money, jock-less stations sell plenty of advertising, but I feel that the radio experience loses something when you don't have a real person talking to you. I know it's the old school way of thinking, but I believe it's still true today.
4) What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC format compared to other genres?
Hot AC makes me feel younger, hipper and current. My PD Angie Handa really gets it! Being a former PD and MD myself, I appreciate the time and effort it takes to schedule music and the intuition to know what will sound good on the station, fight for being able to add the right records, and the courage to say no to a record that you feel just doesn't work. Your decision may be trumped by your consultant, but that's ok, you move on. To be honest, there have been some records I didn't believe in at the beginning, but they eventually grew on me and did very well. I've always worked in the AC format, but I'd have to say Hot AC is my favorite. B93.5 is by far the hottest AC format I've worked on. I love it!
5) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I stay in tune with my audience by making them feel like I'm right there in the office with them, revolving the show around their workday. Not talking at them, but to them. I also stay informed on the most popular shows on TV.
6) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
I try to find interesting news about the artists we play, including who's dating whom, where they're touring and what awards they're up for. I check to see what's going on with shows like "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Voice." I also watch "The Real Housewives of Orange County" and comment on it occasionally. I do a lot of show prep.
7) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
I'd have to say letting the "F" word fly on an outtake of a spot and accidentally leaving it on there. It was back when we were using carts. I was doing overnights at the time and I recorded the spot before I went home and I failed to bulk erase the cart. Thankfully I didn't get fired. I think it ran several times in morning drive before it was caught and pulled.
I would say the runner-up would be airing a live call and feeling the color leave my face as an excited winner yelled out an expletive.
I've also had a recurring nightmare of opening the mic and not being able to speak or forgetting the call letters, but thankfully, neither of those things have ever happened, (knock on wood.)
8) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I would love to see stations in all markets go back to live radio 24-hours a day.
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Develop a thick skin early on. You will be knocked down and rejected more than you'll be lifted up and hired at the beginning. Radio has changed and there aren't as many opportunities to those with little experience. If it's what you really want, work hard and don't give up!
10). What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
Don't let the opinion of one PD tear you down. Grow a thick skin and know that whether you have enough talent to make it in this business is subjective. You have to believe in yourself.
The worst? Run the interview live, what could go wrong?
What's the best liner you've ever heard?
"It's the weekend, why the shower?"
What's the best sweeper you've ever heard?
"Just think of us as the Tai Kwon Do of radio, with hit after hit after hit."
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
Dave Burchett, who did afternoon drive on KCAQ (Q104.7). He's now working in the Los Angeles market. He was always so smooth, hip, and flawless.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Matchbox Twenty, Pearl Jam, Earth Wind & Fire, Supertramp, Simple Minds, Metallica, Justin Timberlake, and Of Monsters and Men.
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
When I was doing afternoons at KRUZ/Santa Barbara, I had a listener call me and say that he'd called just to hear my voice, which was odd because he only needed to turn on the radio. Then he asked if I had a poster of myself I could give him signed. Yeah, stalker!