10 Questions with ... Bernardo Moronta
July 7, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WMSV-A (1996-2000), WPLJ (1999), WHTZ (2000), WLIR and WCBS-A (2000-2003), WQCD, WBBO and WXXP (2002-2003), WQGN/WSUB-A (2003-2006), WBLI (2007), WBON (2007-2010), WXNY/WQBU (2011-2014), PlanetCandela.com (2012-Present), AmazingLiteMusic.com (2014-Present).
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
It's all because of New York City radio. My mom died from cancer when I was one, and it was just my grandmother and I for a long time. Radio provided me with a lot of needed companionship. It was my salvation. I used to pretend I was sleeping and spend all night listening to Steve Somers on WFAN. I loved the nuances of Imus In The Morning, the chemistry of Mike and The Mad Dog, and the inside Yankee knowledge of Suzyn Waldman. Love Phones on Z100 taught me a lot about the birds and the bees. I wanted to be just like Lukas. I admired Paul "Cubby" Bryant. I used to call these stations, get on the air and record it (I still have the tapes somewhere).
When Chris "Mad Dog" Russo invited me to sit in during a live airing of Mike and the Mad Dog and then he spent an hour answering all of my questions for a college project, I knew I had made the right decision with my life.
2) What prompted your company to launch an Internet radio station?
I was laid off from my most recent full-time job in 2010, and I left to care for my four autistic children and my stay-at-home wife. We had therapies, out-of-pocket medical expenses and a rising cost of living to worry about.
I landed an on-air job at X96.3 in New York City, which was awesome but it was only part-time. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and become an entrepreneur. Internet radio has proven to be a great arena. It allows me to once again succeed at all of the aspects that made terrestrial radio fun: jocking, picking the hits, developing talent, and setting the general direction of a station.
3) What is it about your station that you feel really makes it cut through?
AmazingLiteMusic.com presents a unique take on Adult Contemporary. It is "Hot" Soft AC. We have a tight rotation of currents and re-currents culled from today's Top 40 charts, mixed in with a larger yet still relatively tight selection of lite favorites from the 70s to the 2000s.
Softness and quality control tie everything together. Every song "has" to be free of hard edges and of course, it has to be amazing, or it doesn't make the cut. This approach has resulted in very fast growth and loyal listenership especially in the office. Furthermore, there are markets where terrestrial adult-targeted formats have become rather Rhythmic. AmazingLiteMusic.com provides an oasis of ease.
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
We are very active on Facebook and Twitter. We're always posting interesting content that is relevant to our core demo interspersed with station promotions. The goal is to enhance the connection that we've established with our current listeners, while hopefully drawing in new ones.
5) Do you believe that radio and the recording industry can come up with a fair compromise on royalty compensation for both Internet streams and terrestrial radio?
I really hope so. The more listeners tune in, the more Internet radio stations must pay to performing artists and publishers. This results in a vicious cycle that makes it very difficult to gain profitability. I would like to see a royalty rate structure that doesn't threaten to put music services out of business!
6) From your observations, how does the Internet radio listener differ from the average terrestrial radio listener?
I believe that Internet radio listeners expect to be entertained in ways that terrestrial radio is seemingly unable. Internet radio listeners expect less commercials, less song repetition, more music discovery, and content that is more specifically targeted. Digital delivers on all fronts.
7) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Traditional radio is still valued by listeners, but the competition from streaming services is really heating up and stealing ears and mindshare. As the Pandoras, Spotifys and independent Internet radio stations of the world evolve and mature, terrestrial will need to innovate in order to maintain relevance.
8) How are you positioning your station to compete with custom on-demand services like Spotify, Deezer, RDO, Beats, and others?
We are planning to implement a feature that will allow listeners to insert songs of their own choosing into our automation system. This will add an element of customization to our programming.
9) What do you consider the key to your success?
My passion for making listeners happy. Whether it be through a funny talk break, a compelling string of hits that I've programmed, an entertaining jock that I've hired or a cool promo that I've conceived, I always strive to really connect with people through my work and help to enhance their lives.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
There are so many different ways to do Internet radio, from both a programming and technical standpoint. Find the path that works best for your situation and go for it! It's fun and rewarding!
Who do you consider your radio mentors?
I have always looked up to my former college professor Dr. Vincent Fitzgerald from The College of Mount Saint Vincent, as well as Paul "Cubby" Bryant from WKTU, and Sharon Dastur from Z100 for whom I interned. I have always observed them from afar and I consider them my role models.
What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I'm a vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables!
What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
Amazinglitemusic.com has only been streaming for a couple of months and we have already been featured as a U.S. Editor's Pick by the Windows Media Radio Guide, TuneIn Radio, and iStreamRadio.
Why would someone listen to your station instead of listening to music on Pandora?
Our station is programmed by a human not an algorithm. We have a great music mix of old and new favorites, along with entertaining production value and soon air personalities and life-enhancing promotions! That's a package that Pandora, in its current form, cannot provide.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
"Don't ever think that you can't do something in this business because you're Hispanic."
Tell us what music we would find on your phone or MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
I love everything from Juan Luis Guerra to Calvin Harris - if it sounds good, I'm in.
Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
Digital technology will advance to the point where terrestrial and Internet-only outlets will be on an even playing field in terms of ease of access and revenue. Then, AmazingLiteMusic.com and others of our ilk will benefit as a result of years spent developing and marketing our brands.