10 Questions with ... Mandy James
March 10, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KDSN (107.1 FM & 1530 AM) APD/MD Announcer & Polka Princess - 2011 To 2012
- WLKG (Lake 96.1 FM) - Co-host of "Michaels in the Morning"/Middays - 2012- Present
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I was practically raised in a bowling alley with a bar that hosted radio remotes every weekend. My dad would always take me to hang out in the DJ booth while he was working, and I just remember always wanting to touch all the buttons and take away the microphone! It wasn't until after I won a radio contest during a 7th grade dance when I knew for sure that I wanted to work in radio! I mean, C'mon - I won a caboodle! Remember those?
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
The entire staff at Brown College! The smartest move I ever made for my self was to go back to school (at the age of 30!) to finally pursue my dream of working in radio. My instructor, the late Kevin Connor, pushed and encouraged me every step of the way. And to this day I can still reach out to Mike Kronforst and Paul Kraimer for ANYTHING. I've also made some good friends along the way who have been very supportive like Cindy Huber who works for Saga Communications in Milwaukee.
3) What makes your market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
The great thing about WLKG/Lake 96.1 is that we're a small market station with a major market sound. We have to with markets like Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago sharing the dial! My GM would be disappointed if I didn't mention that we've also won "Small Market Station of the Year" the last three years in a row!
4) What is it about your show that you feel really makes it cut through?
My priority each and every show is to be authentic! I like knowing that my listeners can feel like if we met in person, not only am I the same person as I am on the air but that we're already friends. I like to mix things up a bit, a good balance of station info, pop culture and my own silly jokes. Basically anything that will give listeners something to talk about at the dinner table!
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
My favorite social media platform is Twitter. There's something about communicating with listeners from all over the country and discussing everything from "The Bachelor" to politics. It's a great tool for real time interaction! We use Facebook to engage our listeners by asking the what, how, who, and why? Twitter is perfect for building long term relationships with the listener. We also use it as a tool to share photos for contests along with Instagram.
6) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
I'm surprised my husband hasn't left me over the fact that I'm always prepping for the next show. I'll check Twitter and Facebook during commercials, while we're out to dinner, and even before bed! I like to "favorite" tweets I find useful and use them for teases! We have some great prep services but most of my show is based on personal experiences and human interactions!
7) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
I have a love/hate relationship with syndication! That and the Internet.
8) What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC formats compared to other genres?
The best thing about working in Hot/AC is that I AM the demographic! It doesn't hurt that I genuinely like the music that we play! I remember what a struggle it was for me working at my first station in Denison, IA where the demo is farmers between the ages of 55-85. I played Polka, Country and read the markets. It was very hard for me to get comfortable and be relatable. But I found a way to make it work!
9) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I like to stay in tune with my audience by engaging them and throwing myself into the things that they do. I comment on their Facebook statuses, respond when they leave me comments, and I read their status updates to see what their up to, what makes them tick? If they are sad, or happy, etc. I go to the places they go, and I ask questions about the things they like and show a genuine interest.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Don't take yourself too seriously, it's just radio.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
Jay Philpott from WZBA "100.7 The Bay" in Baltimore once told me to never focus on market size. It's getting the gig you want that matters. Once I stopped focusing on the importance of making it to a major market and landed my co-hosting gig I was much happier. The rest will fall into place. When you're meant to be somewhere, you'll be there.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
I have yet to swear on the air, but I did get a phone call from a listener who said, "I can hear you!" I was like, "duh, of course you can hear me!" Then she said, "Nooo! I can hear you singing in the background with the song!" Yep, I left the mic on!