10 Questions with ... Kit Mann
July 15, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in Oklahoma and KYFM in Bartlesville. Then I went crazy! I was lucky enough to work in great markets like Spokane, Albuquerque, and Memphis before "trying" to settle down in Bend, OR (but that didn't really take either).
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
When I was 14, I went to my hometown station to interview the GM for my school newspaper. He gave me a job right there on the spot. I originally wanted to Sports play-by-play, but by the time they let me try, I was already hooked on being the next Rick Dees!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Lots of people have helped me along the way, but I wouldn't say I had one mentor. I tried to take my favorite traits from many different people and blend them into myself.
I was very lucky as a YOUNG man to be able to go to Chicago and watch Larry Lujack work. I also got to meet the WLS staff and that changed my life. Whoever paid for that trip deserves all the blame for my career! I think it was my uncle.
3) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
KMTX are heritage call letters in Helena that were kind of being wasted as a STAR station. Since The Montana Radio Company took over, we have updated the sound, put on a live morning show and promoted the station properly. We are a work in progress. I have only been here since January so it is a day-by-day thing. I have the support of great ownership, a cool staff and lots of encouragement!
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
We are heavy into Facebook. Twitter hasn't taken off for our market yet, but we still work it. We have a separate Facebook page for the morning show which is our station's driving force. We have a Tumblr blog which we are just beginning to utilize and we do try to stay on top of things. Since we don't do lots of remotes or appearances, social media is our connecting point for the listeners.
5) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio, Pandora and Internet these days?
I think that everything with a button and a speaker is competition. How we choose to deal with that will determine where we go. Too many radio people are still living with their heads in the sand. We need to understand more about where the listeners are actually going and stay AHEAD of the trend, not react to it after the fact.
6) In your opinion, what is that special magic that makes a hit record "a hit?"
Last week, I was standing in the grocery store. There was a mid 40's woman in the deli section and she was humming "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk. I smiled and moved on. When I was standing in line, an early 20's kid with a skateboard was singing the same song. THAT is when you know that you have hit!
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Good show prep is priority #1. I prep 24/7. Everything is show prep.
I do the morning show. I am old school. I still get to work at 4am, I scour all the news and stuff before my co-host Whitney arrives. She does much of the "gathering" work. We still work off of show map. Some things in this business should never change. I can listen to any show (my own included) and know in 20 seconds whether the host knows how to show prep.
8) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I drink with them. Seriously, what I actually do is PAY ATTENTION. So many hints of what they want and what they don't can be picked up from listening to them and reading between the lines. I read their Facebook posts, and I take the time to listen to them when they approach me in public, I try to see where they are in their heads. Most times, I discover that they are smarter, more connected, less culturally conservative, and less culturally "dense" than we assume or give them credit for. Most of them are further along than we assume.
9) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I would love to get to the point where the revenue and demand puts more butts in the seats. I would love to hear and hire more "shows" and less "shifts." I would love to have live shows all day and night again.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
That when I am true to myself and stop trying to please everyone else, I end up pleasing everyone more and I am happier and more productive.
What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I have only ever worked ROCK or Hot AC/AC. I am probably the most tatted up AC program director in the country who knows everything there is to know about Michael Buble' and Disturbed.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
The best: Return phone calls. Don't be one of those guys who thinks that he doesn't have time to respond to people who took time out of THEIR day to reach out to you. Also, dress nice when you fly. You never know who you will be sitting with.
The worst: One time I had my boss tell me that I didn't need try so hard regarding show prep. He said that me getting to the station an hour before everyone else made the electric bill go up and that I was "talented enough to just wing it..."
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Be savvy. Be aware. Don't take your job for granted. Educate yourself. Don't be so caught up on what you THINK is right, and stop trying to multi-task so much. Do one thing at a time. Like the Zen proverb says, "When you drink tea, drink tea."
What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
The same thing that we all talk about, maintaining viability in a world that changes daily. We also need to make sure that radio remains a priority options for a listener base that gets increasingly "younger" (in lifestyle) and more savvy.