10 Questions with ... Leah Lewis
January 27, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KKVU/Missoula, MT 2005 - (As Long As They'll Keep Me)
- KMSO/Missoula, MT 2003-2005
- KGVO/Missoula, MT 2001-2003
- KXIX/Bend, OR 1998- 2001
- KSJJ/Bend, OR 1998- 2001
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
While originally pursuing a television career I realized that compared to TV people I was a 4, maybe a 6. But in radio I'm a solid 8! So it was a no-brainer!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
My uncle Jack Swanson at KCAJ/Roseau, MN. Jack has been a sportscaster, station owner, and he is an award winning broadcaster. To this day, wakes up at 3am to report the morning news. He has the best collection of albums and logo T-shirts, and he always got free tickets to hockey games.
3) What makes your market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Missoula, Montana is a precious snowflake of a market. I've never heard of any other market where Public Radio pulls a constant 20 share!
We're a college town with a laid back vibe. You'll find many business owners start their weekends on Thursday. A great day on the river or ski hill can trump a conference call or meeting more often than not. It's also more acceptable to wear yoga pants or a Patagonia hoodie to a business meeting than a suit and tie.
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
In a market our size, business owners make the marketing decision more often than not. There are so many affordable and accessible options for advertising that we didn't have even five years ago.
Radio is by no means obsolete, but we really need to bring our A-game when it comes to client and community service.
I also hope our friends in the auto industry continue to build cars with radios. We should buy those guys a drink or send them a nice fruit basket.
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
When we give away a fun prize package (like our recent trip to see Taylor Swift in concert) I ask my winners to make sure to post and tag our station page with pictures of them enjoying themselves. I also share community events through our page and I make sure to mention on-air that we've posted the info there.
6) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
By being social, active, and saying "YES" to those invitations from non-profit groups and clients. It's instant show prep!
I keep in mind events are that my friends are hosting or attending. What are people doing this week? I usually talk about my own personal plans. Taking my dogs for a hike because it's sunny, or going to hot yoga because it's so cold, a fun concert (even if it's not an artist we play), parent teacher conferences, gallery openings that offer free wine, book club, kids performances, running a 5k this weekend, my ladies soccer league team making the playoffs, an epic Pinterest fail. If it's on my calendar or I laughed about it, I'll share it with my listeners.
7) 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?
I am excited to see radio stations evolving to become almost marketing agency hybrids. We are never going to see the same revenue exclusively from traditional broadcasting again so it's crucial to offer a variety of services if you want to grow.
If stations don't have a homogenized corporate blueprint and support system, they should either invest in in-house talent or partner with an online media company and share the revenue while offering convenient marketing packages. Instead of hiring a separate staff, it would behoove your account executives to learn how to offer more services to their existing clients.
8) Why would someone listen to U104.5 instead of listening to music on their iPod?
Those $1.29 iTunes add up after a while! But U 104.5 is free! We're available online and on your digital radio or car stereo at the push of a button! And I won't take over your computer with proprietary software!
9) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I would like to see people start embracing change! Don't fight it, go with it and evolve! I for one love the fact that I don't have to set up clunky remote gear to do a remote. I have an iPad and a digital mic. It's awesome! There's more good stuff ahead of us. Bring it on!
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Go to a technical school. Brown Institute gave me solid skills, great support and resources for the job market. They have stayed current and relevant with industry standards. I went back for a tour a few summers ago and I was very impressed with the staff and the talent coming out of there.
What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
Nine years ago this summer, my GM Dave Cowan and our owner Kevin Terry decided to build and sign on 3 FM signals at the same time. I was hired on a few weeks before we started flipping the switches. It was exhausting, exciting and unforgettably rewarding!
In your opinion, what is that special magic that makes a hit record "a hit?"
If I want to dance, smile, cry or sing along... then I know it's got potential!
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Right now I'm obsessed with Fitz and the Tantrums. I will seriously play "Out of My League" on repeat 6 times in a row. The first time I listened I listened to that song I instantly felt familiar with the New Wave vibe, but I still find new layers that I love the more I hear it. I also listen to Disney soundtracks all the time with my daughters. "Frozen" has some fun new songs I'm digging!
What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
Missoula, a city of about 66,000 people, is home to over 1,200 non-profit groups. Over the last few years, we've worked to develop partnerships between local businesses and their favorite causes.
By offering matching commercial schedules for non-profit organizations underwritten by clients who sign annual contracts, it is added value that provides regular marketing for non-profits and good PR for our clients.
We also offer marketing grants to groups who apply through our Community Kindness Project. Along with a radio schedule, we have partnered with a prominent retail business in downtown Missoula called the MSO Hub that has a fantastic store front they allow our recipients use for a window display to advertise their event.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air? (dead air ... forget a mic was still on ... etc.)
While not technically on-air, this happened once:
A prize winner came to the office to collect his winnings. I was excited to meet him and get a picture for our web site because the vacation package we gave away was a pretty big deal. Our lovely young receptionist came into my studio to let me know he was waiting and she mentioned to me that he was blind, so don't pull a "Ryan Seacrest" and try to high-five him. Being an empathetic and progressive person I went out of my way to lead him around the office, by the arm, and describe as many details as I could to give him a sense of what our front office was like. After a few minutes I asked if we could pose for a photo, I'm still awkwardly holding his arm. He looked at me and said "Sure, it's a good thing we'll be matching in our blue shirts!" After he left I explained to our receptionist that "Visually Impaired" on a drivers license is not the same as blind.