10 Questions with ... Ronnie Kohrt
July 29, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began as an intern at KKFN/Denver, CO while I went through the curriculum at the Ohio Center for Broadcasting Colorado Campus. I eventually turned that internship into a part-time position at "The Fan" and after graduating from school (shocking I know... but yes I did graduate) I wanted more...
So I accepted my first full time position as OM in Laramie, WY. For six months, I oversaw a that Laramie office before the position I work at now opened up. Our company owns the stations that I worked at in Wyoming as well as up here in the Northeast. I applied, got the gig, and drove 2,000 miles to my new home! I've been here for about a year and a half now and LOVE IT!
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
From my teenage days, I always listened to Sports radio and I loved being the announcer for things. It was around 15 or 16 years old that I realized you could make a career of it. I fell in love with it and the rest is history.
2) Who do you consider your radio mentor(s)?
Without a doubt, JJ Pellini who is my internship coordinator at KKFN is my idol and mentor. He taught me so much of what I know today and wouldn't be here today without him and his guidance. I do however like to think highly of a lot of people. My competition also teaches me new things everyday as well. I like to think of myself as a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge possible to be the best I can be in this amazing industry!
3) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
I believe our market is VERY unique for a couple of reasons. One is the fact that the listening market is Burlington, VT AND Plattsburgh, NY. Lake Champlain separates the two and getting over to Plattsburgh is easier said than done. Listeners are very appreciative when we head over there. Our signal is crystal clear over there... but the big lake in the way throws a major monkey wrench into our signal and it tests us as a team in both programming and sales alike.
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
There are many important issues facing radio now. However, one of the bigger mountains to handle is the many different outlets that our audience has to choose from and how those things pull our listeners away from us.
With Pandora, Spotify, iHeart, iTunes, YouTube, Internet radio stations, MP3 players, iPods and hundreds of other ways possible ways to hear music, listeners have an abundance of options to choose from instead of the FM/AM dial. We must connect with listeners on a personal level and treat them to an enjoyable experience.
Local and personal content wins and when listeners are treated like gold on a personal level (because they are) all of a sudden Pandora, and even their personal music that they THEMSELVES choose doesn't seem so great anymore.
Why? It's their actual pick of music! It's the experience! The ability to interact with their favorite afternoon jock, win prizes, play silly games to pass the day because obviously they're not working at their desks! We have a station that actually play a request of theirs, and listens, etc. It makes a difference!
During my time at our cluster, I've made it top priority to personally GO TO the listener by participating in non-profit events, local community actions and being a part of something they truly care about and something of meaning. Is it extra work? Sure. Is it worth it? You bet it is. We become more than just the "radio station"... Listeners know us by our personal names and enjoy that personal connection on-air, on Facebook and in the community.
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Social media is an extremely valuable tool and I take full advantage of it for promotion of shows, on-air content, and legal contests to boost our audience. Playing silly stupid games and for my goofy jack station... Who knows what we will do next! The power of social media is what makes being in radio quite fun today. Word of mouth spreads faster than wildfire and that can be so powerful for a station in organizing events, contests and 'guiding' my listeners in a way sometimes you just cannot do just being on the air.
The ability to reach your audience on a daily basis without cluttering the on-air signal with worthless DJ bantering and interacting with them on a personal and caring level is valuable in itself. Facebook pages are just as valuable as websites in this day and age if not more valuable. Your logo, your content, and your image is in front of thousands of listeners on a daily basis. This is something that radio never had before the digital age. We should all take full advantage that.
6) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio, Pandora and Internet Radio, (iHeart), and Streaming services such as Spotify, MOG, Deezer, etc. for today's music listener?
Now I may not be a grizzled veteran in this industry (yet at least LOL!) but I listen to many stories from my veteran idols of the cassette tapes when they came around... "Oh They will kill radio!" Then CD's came around. "Radio is done for!" "A Walkman!?!? It's sure to kill radio!"
Then came the iPod, iTunes, internet radio, streaming, taking it out of cars, Pandora, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH! The critics and "analysts" continue to doubt and yet, radio just keeps chugging along.
Sure, radio is not the same. It's an ever changing industry to adapt to what is happening in the world. Some embrace this change. Some don't. Stations grow. Stations die. It's only the nature of business. How we compete with satellite is based on content and localization.
When Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene hit my Northeast region, radio stations were counted on for the local, up to date news. The power was out... Uh Oh! Your laptop battery that lasts you half an hour tops is a goner! Battery powered radio's STILL could be relied upon. That's something Pandora will never be able to do. The books in that region showed that. When the tragedy in Boston occurred, radio was there to update the general public with up to the second data. You're not getting that on iHeart!
Local radio and good content will always triumph. It won't die. It'll change. But it's not going anywhere. Any car manufacture won't be foolish enough to rip the radio out of their new model cars and they know it. Radio will model more towards the digital age in the future and with technology with creative ideas and great local content. Radio will continue to stand long into the future.
7) In your opinion, what is that special magic that makes a hit record "a hit?"
There are many things that can take a song from just "eh..." to "special."
When I'm scheduling, things like tempo, beat, rhythm, lyrics, the history of the artist, who that artist is, the audience the song targeting, and so much more go into music scheduling. I really consider it an art when someone can make a station sing with great music scheduling.
8) Do you have a Social Media Director on your staff? If so, how does this person interact with your programming staff?
That's me! I also work as the only programmer in our office. So as far as the two working together goes, I'd say they're both disgruntled! ;)
9) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
"If you have to think about it, don't say it, post it, or do it."
"There is no right, and there is no wrong. There is only an opinion."
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Never give up! The radio industry is indeed a tough one. The first job is always the hardest to get. You've got to wear many hats and work a lot of hours for little income. But if it's your passion, if this is what drives you, if it's what you were put on this earth to do, you'll figure it out. I like to think those with a burning drive like myself will find a way to get it done. I can honestly say that if I was to win the lottery tomorrow... I wouldn't quit my job. I have way too much fun and enjoy it way too much!
What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
One of the main priorities for us is to be in the community often. I donate my time and I work with all kinds of charities from local chapters at WHBW, to the Lund Foundation, LLS, and Red Cross. This is a main priority to me with localized content, and using our ability to create awareness for the greater good of our city.
What do you do in your spare time?
I'm an avid car guy. I am currently restoring my 68' Plymouth Barracuda. I also have a side business as a professional pottery. So you'll usually find me in the art studio... or the production studio!
What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I've never been on a roller coaster. I drink 100+ ounces of coffee a day. I worship the Denver Broncos and can belt out a mean car karaoke.
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
Scott DeHuff in Denver. Funniest guy I know and I barely know him.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A professional football player up until I was 15. After that, I set my goals on being a radio station GM.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
I listen to the radio?
Who is your best friend in the business?
Dallas Hageman, a classmate of mine that I ended up hiring to replace me when I left Wyoming.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air? (dead air ... forget a mic was still on ... etc.)
I have fortunately never cussed on-air... yet. However, I sometimes get trigger-happy on the "play next element" button on my on-air keyboard... I hit it twice like a ninja and the station goes bonkers!