10 Questions with ... Mathew Blades
April 14, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at the "almost legendary" KCLD (104.7)/St. Cloud, MN after an extensive internship at KDWB back in 1994. From there, it was two quick stops (Midland-Odessa, TX and Erie, PA) and on to my biggest break in Washington DC where I did nights at Z104 from 1997-2001.
After a format change, I changed addresses and went to Kansas City to do nights at Mix 93.3 for Jon Zellner (Sr. VP of CCME) who told me I would meet my wife. (Side note, he was right I did! Best stop in radio by far). Three weeks after our wedding, I got another big break when I headed back to Washington to Z104, this time to host the morning show. But 13 months into our gig the station went off the air completely. My wife and I packed up and headed to Denver to do afternoons.
After a "minor disagreement" we left that station and went to Milwaukee to work for Tom Land and take over after the legendary Reitman and Miller in Milwaukee as THEIR morning host in 2005. (Insert broken record sound effect here). A little over a year into things, the station switched from the legendary WKTI to "94.5 LAKE FM" and that was the end of our show. A few months later we took the job here in Phoenix here at Mix 969 and I've been here ever since!
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I grew up listening to guys like Greg Thunder and Steve Cochran in Minneapolis. When I was growing up, there was an epic battle between WLOL and KDWB. After high school I met a dude named Tone Fly and another guy named Gerry Dixon who took me under their wing to teach me what I needed to know to get my first job. (Honorable mention to, Brown Institute, which helped a little too, while I don't think it was crucial to my first job, it did teach me things that I still use to this day!)
2) What type of features do you run on your show?
The day starts with "3 Things You Need To Know" and our "5 O'Clock Club." It's a "Club" of listeners that listen to the whole show. We talk about something in the 5 O'Cock hour and then ask them about it again around 8:40am, take a call and give them a prize.
Celebrity stuff is put together by Priscilla, its called "Celebrity Chisme." We do that once an hour. Then it's on to "Don't Blow it..." which is probably the most popular feature on our show. Then we have some benchmarks we roll out once a week like "30 Second Therapy" and "P on the Street" (Priscilla goes on the street to ask random people questions)
3) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Working with PPM. Listen, I think there are times you have to be smart and play the clock to get the most minutes out of a quarter hour, but it has always been (and always will be) about the content.
We've all got to get out of the mindset of "Do less so they don't leave" and strap on a much smarter mindset. Something like, "Choose the best content so they don't leave." We've all done it and sat through an entertaining segment, or game, or interview for 4-6 or ten minutes. On the other hand, we've all hit the button so fast it's scary after hearing a lame tease or set-up.
4) What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC format compared to other genres?
I really like the audience that comes to us each morning. Now, part of that is that my lifestyle IS the demo and that makes it easier to get a handle on. I really like that many families as a whole come up to us and tell us that they listen together, or that they all play our "Don't blow it" game in the car before school.
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
It is the show. The second show, 50% of our web traffic came from Facebook. So we are active on our show site. We try to mirror the show on Facebook during our program. After it's done, we use it to remind people what we have coming up and what we did this morning. It's also a tester tool for a bit, we'll ask a question or tease a topic we have planned to test those waters.
The other thing we do is separate the media's. For example, our Instagram account is ALL ABOUT behind the scene moments. Facebook is what it is, and Twitter is where we just live our lives and tweet about it.
6) What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole?
Three words! MAKE THEM MOBILE. As jocks we need to be able to post content from our phones, and our listeners need the same experience on their phone and their computers!
7) How often does your air staff front and back-sell songs?
During the morning, probably 1-3 times an hour. Especially anything new...I had a PD say something to me a long time ago that has always stuck with me, and the conversation went like this:
PD: Hey that bit you did today was awesome!
ME: Thank you.
PD: I noticed you had to drop Janet Jackson to make it happen?
ME: Yeah, I was running a little behind.
PD: Remember that Janet sells out arenas and bits don't. So make sure when you do it, its worth it.
So we're clear it was a supportive conversation, he never told me not to do it. It was more of a challenge to make sure WHEN I did something that it was worth it because listeners come to us for the music. I always appreciated that talk.
8) What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
I'm really proud of the efforts we make here with "BRAS FOR A CAUSE" each year, but I have to take you back to Milwaukee while I was working at WKTI for the biggest...
I learned about a group of people trying to make a playground that was universal. Anyone with abilities and disabilities could use it. We broadcast for a week straight while volunteers worked in shifts to build it and If we needed nails we said it on the air and people brought them down. If we needed water, we asked people and they brought it, along with food, supplies, bodies to do the work. You get the picture. Six days later it was done, and to this day it's the thing I am the most proud of. You can see the Possibility Playground by clicking here.
9) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Yes, I wish I had more "bad cop" skills. I'm so willing to work with everyone that sometimes I end up saying yes to things that are not the best fit. However, that is why I have Justin as an Exec Producer...he's happy to do it!
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Treat your listeners with respect. The phone lines are our customers walking into a store. Answer them! Answer every E-mail, interact with your Facebook fans and make them feel special. They are NOT prize pigs, they are LOYAL FANS!
What do you do in your spare time?
It's a busy life these days, I work for the Phoenix Coyotes here in town and help out with game entertainment. I also coach both my boys hockey teams. When I have free time we golf, meditate, and nap.
What was the most successful low budget promotion idea your station ever did?
Well we just set the Guinness World Record for the "longest kiss." I think that cost our sponsor a whole $700. We got five minutes of air time on the number one rated TV morning show locally (Fox 10) and plenty of national buzz for making the record!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a Classical musician (a bass player). Truth be told, that is what I thought I was going to do!
That was until I was 19 and I was studying under the principal bass player from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and moving in that direction. But that's when I got bit by the radio bug.
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
From a leadership stand point, it would be Jon Zellner. He always had time, was thoughtful in his responses, and still is very good and what he does.
From a Jock standpoint, it has to be Tony Fly. He was innovative, connected, in the moment, funny, focused and embodied everything I try to be.
Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it that you enjoy about that particular selection?
Oh wow...my last three albums downloaded were:
- Van Halen "1984"
- Vampire Weekend's newest release
- Avicii, "True"
The Van Halen stuff was just an impulse buy after hearing "Panama" on some channel. The VW album is my favorite of the last year, and I am obsessed with Electronica/Dance music.
What's the best sweeper you've ever heard?
Tone Fly had this sweeper while I was an intern for him, said something like:
"Tony Fly, don't you just want to hug him? (...dramatic pause) then the voice guy comes back and says, "I don't want to hug him, not at all? I just get paid to read this stuff." It made me laugh out loud every time I heard it!