10 Questions with ... Nicole Slater
June 17, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 2006 - Citadel Broadcasting/Reno, NV - My first job in radio I was a web master position with KWYL, KNEV, KKOH, and KBUL in Reno. Derek Gunn was my first boss. I learned how to have a thick skin very quickly. I am so grateful I learned that early in the business. I left that job to finish my college degree in Speech Communications and Journalism.
- 2008 - Citadel Broadcasting/Reno, NV - After college I returned to radio. I had to start from the ground up as a Remote tech, Board-Op, Production Asst, Promotions Asst, and Traffic Asstistant.
- 2010 - Lotus Broadcasting/Reno, NV - I moved to Lotus Broadcasting to be on-air at Cub Country KUUB. Three weeks later they flipped it to Sports. Welcome to radio! I then moved to Rock 104.5 where I did weekends and the midday fill-in shift.
- 2011 - Lotus Broadcasting/Reno, NV - I was hired full-time as Digital Director for KDOT, KOZZ, KUUB.
- 2012 - Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters: Los Angeles, CA - I am currently the Digital Director for KKGO, KKJZ, KMZT.
1) You are the first radio "Digital Director" I've ever interviewed, so it now seems like this is something that is long overdue. Please tell us what your job duties entail and what a typical day in your position might be like?
For people outside the business I explain it this way: "I teach DJs how to use Facebook." For anyone in the business it's a bit more of a complicated answer. I have no job description. At the past two radio companies I worked for, I was the first Digital Director they had hired. In my interview they told me, "We're not exactly sure what you need to do, but we just need you to do it." So this job is for the self-starters out there.
I am responsible for overseeing all things digital for three radio stations, a winery, and a food truck. That includes our station web site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, streaming, digital advertising, branding, sales, etc.
Some daily activities include:
Interacting with programming to make sure we have sweepers to tell people about our Facebook & Twitter Page. I support our sales staff by brainstorming new ways they can create digital media packages for clients.
I work with our agency to place our banner-ads in prominent LA websites.
I create branding strategies to have all of our platforms working with each other to strengthen our brand in the digital market.
I train our on-air staff on how to communicate our brand strategy through social media.
Our company also owns a Cobblestone Vineyards and a food truck (The Go Country 105 Chuck Wagon) so it's important when posting for them to know who your audience is.
In this job, you have to be a chameleon and be able to transform your communication style depending on who you are talking to. Every day is completely different and that's why I love it!
2) How did you migrate from being a radio talent into your current Digital Director position?
Oh I'm not sure I want to share this story! Ha! Ha! I was a weekend DJ at KDOT (Rock 104.5)/Reno, NV. I kept complaining to management that the web site needed to be updated. I presented my ideas, mock-ups, pie charts, you name it. No one listened. So then I decided it would be a good idea to contact the consultant on my own and complain. So I wrote an E-mail to Jacobs Media and told them that our web site sucked and no one was listening to me. I still don't know how I didn't get fired from that. Instead they finally started listening and offered me a full-time position to be their Digital Director. Apparently "chutzpah" goes a long way in radio.
I learned a great deal from that position and I chronicled the process of how to transform a radio station (on-air, sales, programming) into a "well-oiled digital machine." I then presented those ideas to my current employer, Mt. Wilson Broadcasters, and they hired me the next day.
Two years ago, I would have never imagined I'd be where I am today. I am so lucky! All I can say is listen to your intuition, even if it's telling you to do something unorthodox. That might just be the thing to get you noticed and on your way.
3) Do you see a difference in the way your Adult listeners for your Classical and Jazz stations use social media, versus the way a younger demo (say a KKGO listener does)?
There is a HUGE difference. Our core audience for Go Country 105 is 18-34 on Facebook. The goal is to keep posts short and sweet. They love Luke Bryan pics, preferably shirtless, and memes like "The World Needs More George Strait and Less Kardashian." Any kind of cultural statement really hits home with our Country listeners.
Jazz is a different world. Our core demo on Facebook is Males 35-55. When you post you can be more text heavy and really explain a song, event, or a video. They love vintage photos like Louis Armstrong playing in front of the Sphinx in Eygpt. Another thing is, they will call your bluff! If you misrepresent the music in any way they will let you know! There is no BS'ing a Jazz Listener. They know their stuff!
Classical - I'm so proud of our Facebook page for K-Mozart because it's fun and quirky. There are not a lot of other classical stations to draw from so we get to pave our own way in social media. We just have fun and hope someone out there gets a kick out of it.
4) As digital revenues for radio grow, are you starting to see online ads migrate from "value-added" and "non-traditional revenues" to a bigger part of the bottom-line that may eventually require a separate sales staff?
Radio is almost there. It's like a fledgling bird staring over the nest. It's not completely confident it can fly on its own. How do we fix this? One thing I know about sales is that they love to make money. So if we present it in a way that they can make a decent commission on digital, then I we won't have a problem transitioning. Another area we can improve on is hiring people who can speak both digital and radio into management positions. With the right direction, radio can make a decent chunk of change on digital media.
5) How do you interact with your programming staff and your sales staff?
You have to understand that programming and sales speak two different languages. They have two different goals. If you can communicate what you are trying to accomplish by demonstrating how it will benefit them (increased listening or increased sales) then you have a shot.
When all else fails, read the directions.
6) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
The generational divide. "Old school" vs. "New School." Beatles vs. Backstreet Boys.
I would like to see more communication between the different generations in radio. I was recently at the Worldwide Radio Summit attending a panel. I went up to ask a question to the panel and the first thing the host said was, "Exactly how old are you?" This was in front of 300 business colleagues and friends. I felt like a walking fetus! It was embarrassing!
I get this a lot in radio, a sense of resistance to change, to "newbies" to digital. If radio is going to catch up and start leading the pack of new innovative ideas, then we need to talk to one another. We need to embrace the next generation and work together.
7) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Tact. It comes from experience in the business. Being young in radio, I don't have the years of experience my colleagues do. There has been more than one occasion when I have wanted to stick my foot in my mouth. Just like in life, it's trial and error. Learn from your mistakes and move on. But just in case there is a "Tact Fairy" out there, please sprinkle me with some graciousness!
8) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
It will be 2018. Wow, that sounds weird?
Hopefully, five years from now radio will be fully integrated with digital media. There will be no more "value added" for sales packages. We won't be giving away our stream or banner ads, we will be charging for it. DJs will be well-versed in social media and it will be a required for employment. Hopefully, there will be more Digital Directors and we can communicate on successes and challenges with one another.
As far as where I see myself. I see myself owning my own consulting business and helping radio stations integrate digital solutions. I will help to train staff, create digital branding strategies (and hopefully continue not paying for concert tickets!) If I could also do this by the beach - then I will be set!
9) What is the coolest thing you were able to do in Radio?
There are so many! Recently I got to go on a weeklong Disney Alaska trip with Go Country 105 afternoon driver Paul Freeman. We broadcast the show live from the ship and gave away Disney prizes all week. I was responsible for documenting the trip and sharing the experience with our listeners through social media.
Social Media gives us a chance to interact with our listeners from anywhere in the world. People can feel like they were on the vacation with us and they could keep up with our adventures.
Here is a recap of our trip.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Be honest and respectful. There is so much BS and ego in this business and it hinders progress. If you come with honesty and respect to any venture, you will be ahead of the game. Ask questions, stay humble, and work hard!
What do you do in your spare time?
I'm working on building my digital media consulting business, writing weekly columns, going to shows, and contemplating having a social life. (I wouldn't have it any other way).
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Al Green, Alanis Morisette, Bad Company, Barenaked Ladies, The Blow, Cake, Counting Crows, Danko Jones, Drake, Etta James, Fleetwood Mac, Fugees, The Gap Band, Godsmack, Ingrid Michaelson, John Lee Hooker, Lana Del Rey, Natalie Cole, Pat Benetar, Prince, Robyn, Scouting for Girls, The Sugarhill Gang, The Ting Tings, The Band Perry, TLC, Vertical Horizon, The xx and Zero 7.
What do I enjoy about the selection? Variety, novelty, fun! It keeps my A.D.D. at bay.
How can I get Facebook to allow me to opt out of Timeline if I just want to organize my photos by my albums I've created over the years?
Mark. It's time to let go. Get a Flickr account and move on! PS - #Hashtags are coming to Facebook. Get ready!
There is never a dull moment in the world of high tech, but do you ever miss being on the air?
YES! There is nothing like the thrill of opening a mic and not knowing exactly what will happen. It's controlled chaos. If I post something on Facebook I can always delete it seconds later. You can't do that on the air. Once it's out there, it's out there! It's exhilarating!