10 Questions with ... Tony Lorino
August 19, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- The Former 94.5 WKTI, Milwaukee, WI - Promotions Intern/Fill-Ins - 2000-2001
- KSTZ (Star 102.5)/Des Moines, IA - Promotions/Weekends - 2002-2003
- KLTA (FM 105.1)/Fargo, ND - MD/Middays - 2003-2004
- KIOA/ (Oldies 93.3) Des Moines, IA - APD/Production - 2004-2006
- WMYX (99.1 The Mix)/Milwaukee, WI - Morning Show Producer/APD - 2006-2010
- KZPT (99.7 The Point)/Kansas City, MO - PD/Afternoons - I started as APD in 2010, and was promoted to PD in late 2011.
1) Please tell us how you achieved your recent ratings success?
We've been consistent, and our team has performed consistently GREAT! We've had support from the top down to make 99.7 The Point a success here in KC.
My GM, Dave Alpert, reminded me when I stepped up for this job that our goal with The Point wasn't to BEAT "station A" or "station B," but like a game of golf... to "play the course" and be the best station we could be for adults in Kansas City who like contemporary music.
That's been the plan and we've stuck to it. We've been very consistent in the Top 3 for our demos in the last few months in a very competitive environment. We've even started topping some heritage competitors! David Field, Weezie Kramer, and Pat Paxton have been very encouraging through the building process. We're proud of where we are, and where we're going!
2) What makes the Kansas City market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Before I moved to Kansas City, people told me that it was a "Rock market," and that Pop had a tough time getting off the ground. While this is somewhat true, I'd say Kansas City is even more of a COUNTRY market than a Rock market. Country-crossover tunes have a tendency to research for us quickly. Our sister station, 106.5 The Wolf, is on a roll right now with Women 25-54 and Adults 25-54, and the other two country stations in the market that are very established as well. With this many shares of Country, the challenge is to know what are the right Country titles to play, and to also know when you have enough crossover tunes on your playlist. After all, if a 37-year old woman in Kansas City who likes Hunter Hayes has three places to find him before she comes to us.
3) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
We need to work on developing talent better... and quickly... or we're going to have a tough time sustaining our business. Another programming friend of mine called me a few weeks back searching for a midday host who was ready for a Top 30 market. I couldn't think of anyone I knew who was qualified or interested.
Even when we're utilizing voice-tracking, if we have Interns and up-and-coming talent approach us, we need to take the time to teach and coach them. Every single one of us in radio had a mentor who helped us figure out this crazy business. We need to make sure we're doing the same for the Intern or part-timer that raises their hand too.
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Short answer: EVERY way we can! Our midday host Nycki Pace has taken on our "social" duties in keeping our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages up to date. The challenge is that once we have the procedures in place for what we should post and how we should post it, the social world changes around us. However, as long as we make sure we're using social media to be social and communicate back and forth with our audience, it can help us.
5) In your opinion, what is that special magic that makes a hit record "a hit?"
There are a few things that make songs stand out:
A) Emotionally-connecting lyrics: "Just Give Me A Reason," "I Will Wait," and "When I Was Your Man" have been the biggest songs of 2013 so far for The Point, and they all share the stories of a great emotional connections.
B) Irreverence: "Cruise" is just about having fun. We need fun records to balance out the emotion.
C) Anything my mom calls be about after she's had a margarita or two. NO joke! (She just called me about "Blurred Lines" about six weeks before any of us had it on our stations. I don't think she'd approve of me watching the video, though.)
6) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
The "Notes" app on my iPhone is an AWESOME tool. You know how you're out running errands and have some random observation that would be a great break, or you see a piece of info on an artist you don't want to forget? I keep a running list of about 10-20 notes and links in my phone. That way, when I'm ready to go on the air I have a running list of items to talk about.
7) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
My wife and I live a pretty "Hot AC" lifestyle. We live in the burbs, we enjoy hanging out with our friends and neighbors, and although we don't have kids, we do have a dog (who is more spoiled than most of our friends' kids) so we can't walk into Target without spending $100. (It doesn't help that Entercom Kansas City is RIGHT next to a Target!) I listen to people around me and what they say about their media and music usage... even when they don't notice. I also try to think of how it relates to making our product better.
8) Why would someone listen to your station instead of listening to music on their iPod?
Plain and simple: we bring emotion to the music. We have great on-air personalities that bring a sense of excitement, anticipation, and engagement to what we do. That's not to say I don't listen to an iPod, but as long as we're working to bring these things to our radio stations, we'll continue to be a vibrant medium.
9) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
Best: Avoid saying using the words "NEVER" and "ALWAYS" when talking about music, artists, or songs that could end up on your playlists. (i.e. "I'd NEVER play Daft Punk on a Hot AC.") Those words will burn you!
Worst: "That talent doesn't need coaching. That talent is a STAR!" (I later found out that the aforementioned talent was BEGGING for coaching!)
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
"Have a plan, and always be ready to throw the plan up in the air at the last minute."
I remember having this conversation with Tim Fox, my PD and a great mentor of mine, at KIOA/Des Moines, IA. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans we postponed a major promotion we had planned and did a drive in conjunction with the Red Cross over the entire Saga cluster. It was a HUGE undertaking that was conceptualized and executed in about 96 hours. We couldn't have done that without people, great partners, and a willingness to adjust the plan when we saw fit.
Fast-forward to 2013, our promotions director Jennifer Nagel has been a Godsend in helping piece together our on air promotions, concerts, events, and other client-based promotions through the rest of the year. With that plan in place, we know we can adjust on the fly if anything, God forbid, should make us re-think what we're doing.
What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I love to cook! I grew up in a huge Italian family and cooking isn't just about food, it's about family! Of course, Italian food isn't always the healthiest...so I try to balance it out by hitting the gym a few times a week. (Just don't judge me if I'm watching The Food Network on the elliptical!)
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
I've been blessed to work with quite a few who have stood out, but the one person I've worked with who is different than all the rest was the late Dic Youngs who hosted afternoons at KIOA. When I arrived there in 2004, Dic had been at that same station for 38 years. I helped him with his daily show prep and served as his traffic reporter, and he helped me learn a lot about the city and a lot about traditions. One of the most important ones: going to lunch.
When Dic first invited me to lunch, I thought we would just go to Jimmy Johns or Subway. But no, not with Dic. Lunch was more than lunch. Lunch was a RITUAL. In fact, it was kind of like "holding court." Within my first few weeks, Dic took me to a mom and pop Italian restaurant near the Iowa State Capitol building. Immediately when we walked in, everyone knew him (almost like "Cheers"), and greeted him...he even had his own table! As we sat, in walked other dignitaries from the capitol building - State Senators, the Secretary of State, even the Governor. None of them had their own table, only Dic! He all knew them and called them by name (John, Chet, Tom)... and they knew him by name too. He was one of the most well-connected, well-liked people I've ever had the opportunity to work with, and although he had a lot of prestige, he knew how to treat people. He and his wife always made me feel very welcomed, and would even bring me meals and fudge at Christmas. We all knew the golden rule of treating people how you wanted to be treated, but Dic lived it, and it gave him a very long and successful run in our business. I had the opportunity to produce his 40th anniversary broadcast, and thankfully, got to spend some time in the hospital before he passed away. He was a fantastic human being who made such an impact on the community - he is truly missed.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
MAYER HAWTHORNE! My Dad is a HUGE Steely Dan fan, so his music is just intrinsically familiar to me. In a recent Spin interview he said, "If you don't like Steely Dan, I don't like You." That quote made me laugh! His song "Back Seat Lover" might be a hidden hit!
What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
Hitting our stride! 99.7 in Kansas City is a fantastic signal, but for a multitude of reasons the previous formats on this frequency haven't taken off.
Finally, we have the right people in the right places, doing the right things at the right time. 99.7 The Point is here to stay... for a LONG time! Our best days are yet to come and we're excited about the future!