10 Questions with ... Taylor Shay
August 18, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first job was running Twins games on WJON (AM 1240)/St. Cloud, MN when I was 16 years old. After high school I moved to Columbia, MO to do middays on Q106.1 and part time at Z95.7 in Kansas City. I came back home to work at KCLD, and then I made stops in Omaha at KQKQ and KQCH, WHBQ/Memphis, WNKS/Charlotte and WIHT/Washington, D.C. and now, WIAD (94.7 Fresh FM) in D.C.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
Central Minnesota is a boring place to grow up, but no matter when you turned on KCLD (104.7) there was something entertaining and fun going on. I wanted to be a part of it, but not just as a listener. I used to bring their jocks taco bell and they'd let me run the board and answer the request line while they ate and took smoke breaks. Hanging out there solidified the idea that this was the coolest thing ever and I had to be a part of it!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
I'm fortunate enough to sit across the hall from one of the greatest minds in our business, Steve Davis. The late Tom Land was an incredible mentor and friend. Thea Mitchem was a great example of how smart, driven woman are successful in our industry. JJ Kincaid not only set up the blue tooth in my Camry, he's one of my best friends and has always been my greatest mentor. John Reynolds and Chris Taylor should also be blamed for who I am today.
3) What makes the Washington D.C. market unique?
D.C. is so different than any other market I've been in. There is a distinct lifestyle difference in and outside of the beltway, almost as if you're in two separate cities. Inside the beltway you have mainly government work and people seeking spoken word information. Outside the beltway in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland is where our target audience is, and not the namesake of the market.
4) What is it about Fresh 94.7 that you feel really makes it cut through?
When Steve Davis began assembling our staff three years ago, only one person was brought in from out of market. The rest of our staff (both full and part time) already lived in the market, with most of us having grown up here. We are live from 5am to midnight, Monday through Friday. 94.7 Fresh FM is the definition of live and local radio!
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Social media is the new request line. Especially in the Hot AC format in middays. If I'm asking or expecting listeners to interact, I always do it on social media. People hide behind keyboards now. You can't change their habits. We have to change ours.
6) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Localism. We love that word don't we? We talk about how important it is on conference calls and in E-mails, but how many of us actually execute it?
When I was growing up, I remember how cool it was when KCLD would do the weather and give the temperature in my city. Milaca, Minnesota has a population of 1,700 and is 40 minutes away. I felt a stronger connection to them than other stations that didn't seem to care about my tiny little town. The personal connections we make with listeners are extremely important yet easily forgotten when you're sitting in a room alone and you can't see them.
7) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
This is the easiest part of my job because I am the audience. I live in the suburbs in one of our biggest hot zips. I'm married with a daughter and a dog. I have a career I try to balance between coupon clipping and making starburst rainbow loom bracelets. My own life is my easiest source for show prep.
8) What station haven't you worked at that you'd want to work at in a perfect world?
KDWB/Minneapolis. Although it's a much different station than I grew up listening to (and I've probably lived in warmer climates too long to ever willingly go back there) in a perfect world I'd get to put it on my resume some day.
9) In your opinion, what is that "special magic" that makes a "hit" record a hit?
Women love to relate to songs. For example, Adele is a great singer, but an even better songwriter. Women connect with the messages in her songs. I naturally hear the message in a song before anything else. This is why Capital Cities, Safe and Sound is still one of my favorites and one of our best testing songs.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
If you really want it, and you work for it, it can be yours. Don't be a jerk. That morning show intern may compete against you on the air in a few years. (Hey EB!) When you take away the call letters, we're all just people with the same passion for radio.
What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I love the technical side of radio. How my voice goes from the mic to people's ears is fascinating to me. I especially love radio towers. I used to drive instead of fly home to Minnesota for the holidays just so I could spend days seeing cool transmitter sites across the country. Scott Fybush is my Jesus.
What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has been involved with to benefit the community?
A few years ago our afternoon guy, Darik, was at a mall event in Northern Virginia. A young family came by and asked if he would donate his time to their organization that raises funds and awareness for childhood cancer. Their daughter was Gabriella Miller, who later made national headlines for her own brave fight with the disease. We cater to their lifestyle and because of that personal connection with our station and staff they felt they could have a voice through us. And they did. Every year since then we've partnered with them for their events.
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
Donnie at the Missouri State Hospital used to give the best phoners. (That sounds so dirty). One day I asked why he was locked up. He told me he had killed his nephew with the same tone you'd talk about the weather. I stopped taking his calls so he started sending letters. An intervention with our GM and the hospital administration fixed that. There's no chance that Donnie will ever be released, but the marriage proposal on the back of hospital paperwork was a nice gesture.
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?
My dad forced us to listen to Classic Country growing up and told the same annoying stories about these old songs. Years later when I moved to Memphis those annoying stories about Johnny Cash and the Million Dollar Quartet (among many) suddenly became more interesting. I now have a true appreciation for the music, the history, and my Dad's stories. I also love 90's rap music.
What do you consider the key to your success?
Always striving to be the better, no matter what position or market I've been in. You're never too good to hang banners and you're never too important to be nice to Interns.
What has been your favorite market to live in? Least favorite?
The D.C. area is great and it's where my husband grew up so we have family here. It's expensive, and the traffic is horrific. But you take the good with the bad. Charlotte, NC will always feel more like home to me than Minnesota does. Omaha was my least favorite market.
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Work hard because no one owes you anything. Anyone who has a "glamorous" job in radio has it because they happily worked every Saturday night and every Christmas for many years. Learn to take criticism. It doesn't mean you suck, it means someone thinks you can be better and that in itself is a huge compliment.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you?
Always focus on the big picture. "It's only a weekly" - Steve Davis