10 Questions with ... Pat James
September 23, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WJVM/Sterling, Ill - 1984-1986
- WJEQ/Macomb, Ill - 1987-1991
- KDEC/Decorah, LA - 1991-1993
- WYGC/Gainesville, Fl - 1994-1995
- KFDI/Wichita, KS - 1996-2004
- WIL/St.Louis, MO - 2004-2011
- KIBB/Wichita, KS - 2012 to Present
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
Growing up in Northern Illinois I listened to WLS in the 1970's. Larry Lujack and John Landecker seemed the coolest and funniest guys you'd ever want to meet. Besides, a C average doesn't get you into that aeronautical engineering school!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
I've had some great programming influences over the years. Doug Rockwell in Gainesville; Moon Mullins and Beverlee Brannigan at KFDI/Wichita; Steve Reynolds and Kevin Robinson at WARH (The Arch)/St. Louis have all been valuable teachers over the years.
3) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Wichita has a lot of success with syndicated morning shows. Three of the top five morning shows in the last book were being piped in on satellite. The only local shows were ours on KIBB and the Country station KFDI. It's a unique situation because we stress being local so much, but it seems the audience here wants to be entertained first and foremost, and you can't blame them. So that's what we have been trying to balance. Local is great, but you better be entertaining and something people care about or they're gone.
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Consolidation. We all wear so many hats, it gets difficult to execute everything at the level it should be. I've noticed that our air shifts can become an after thought on some days, and that's not why we're in this business. To compete with the new corporate radio model, we feel we can act quickly on a local level and we have the advantage of having a staff big enough to turn on a dime if we need to.
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Getting our adult audience to participate in social media has been a challenge. Our staff does a good job of posting relatable content for our audience, but I am encouraging them to also share more personal information too. Our Country sister station is a younger demo and has twice as much interaction. It's a work in progress.
6) Why would someone listen to your station instead of listening to music on their MP3 player, phone, tablet, etc?
As an adult hits station, we are hoping to be a 24 hour IPod you don't have to load with music or recharge. We think our format is at an advantage because we can continually freshen and manage a large library to make sure we give our audience the right mix of new an old music at all times. We're professionals dammit! We SHOULD be better at picking music than the listeners are! Plus, our on-air talent provides that company you can't get from an MP3 player.
7) What is the one thing you think we do wrong in radio?
Over-thinking. For instance, as PD's we tend to get wrapped up in the minutia of the "rules" of music scheduling that we've been taught over the years. I think my time in a PPM market has taught me one important lesson. Time is fleeting. People are impatient and want to be entertained... NOW. If you don't deliver, they are gone. They don't care if you play two female artists back to back, they don't care if you play a slow song during the drive home, they don't care if your jock doesn't have a deep voice, they don't care if your imaging is funny or exciting... play them a hit every time, get to the point quickly, be engaging, make them happy and they will always come back.
8) What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
Last fall we were asked by the mayor of one of the small surrounding towns to spearhead a free outdoor concert in a park where they hope to someday put an outdoor amphitheater. It was a public awareness campaign to gauge support for the facility, so it was important to do it right and make it big. After much research, we booked Richard Marx, who in the end brought out 7500 fans. The event was executed perfectly, and now the city plans to go ahead with the proposed amphitheater, and we're sure BOB will be a part of their future plans.
9) What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
I've gotten a LOT of bad advice over the years. Luckily, I've forgotten ALL of it! The Best advice I received as a manager? "Praise people publicly, criticize privately."
The best advice as a jock? "SMILE."
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Liner jocks are a dime a dozen and listeners know that. Listeners will respond to you if you are honest and open. The more they feel they know you, the harder it is for them to flip away from "a friend", no matter how much you piss them off. Getting jocks to open up and share is my biggest challenge as a PD.
What do you do in your spare time?
Moving back to Wichita has been a great change for my family. But it has been so busy getting our lives re-established with two growing girls and their activities. We haven't had a lot of spare time.
Right now, I am building a house for the first time which is very exciting, so while everyone else spends their time and money on vacations, trips, concerts and sporting events...our time and money for the last year has all gone to "the house!"
What are your hobbies?
I am a "professional" photographer, and actually used to get regular gigs in St. Louis doing weddings, and portraits. It was a great distraction. Since moving back to Wichita as a PD, I really don't have the time to take on those projects anymore. I still enjoy doing scenic stuff as well as concert photography. My family gets a bit irritated on trips with me because I tend to make surprise stops along the way.
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Radio is not what it used to be like it was when I started. Finding a station that actually has an opening to let you learn the craft is almost impossible anymore. So you need to start on the street team, be the most reliable person they have, work anytime and anywhere they need you, and then bug the crap out of the PD to let you voice-track an overnight shift sometime. Plus, learn everything you can about social media, graphics design, web design, html, video and audio editing, etc. Radio encompasses so much more than just on-air anymore. You need to be a multi-media master or you'll never get your foot in the door.