10 Questions with ... Darrin Arriens
September 8, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
The first half of my career was filled with great experiences at some major and legendary rock stations including WLZR/Milwaukee, WRIF/Detroit, WKLQ/Grand Rapids (Twice), WBYR/Ft. Wayne, IN; WIOT/Toledo, KHYT/Tucson, KCD/Omaha, WLAV/Grand Rapids.
The second half of my career has been a venture into programming many other formats including Hot AC, Top 40, AC, Rhythmic, and even Country.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I have always had a burning passion for music. I figured why not be around it all day every day?
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
There are many of them. Tapping into people's experience is truly the essence of the business. To name a few: Greg Ausham, Mike Wheeler, Matt Hanlon.
3) What is it about your station that you feel really makes it cut through?
We have been able to find a unique music position in the market. It's been a while since anyone in the immediate market has delivered any contemporary pop product. People are noticing the music change and the female target is responding very well.
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
We are very active on Facebook. We post pop culture and life interest stories through the entire day and night. We also do some planned/spontaneous contesting on occasion.
We are also using it for a vehicle of promotional reminders and to help bolster an advertiser's sales package. To a lesser extent we use Twitter.
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
I am actually very glad that this question is on the list! I think there are many challenges right now. Most people will probably say the amount of competition that terrestrial radio faces. I think we have to think about what we can do to out perform any competition of any sort by being better and being hyper-focused on being local.
However, the first thing we need to do as an industry is re-invest in ourselves so we have the ability to be local. We have stripped staffs and no "minor league" system. We are not thinking about tomorrow, next year, or a decade from now. We have become very "today only" oriented.
6) In your opinion, what is that "special magic" that makes a "hit" record a hit?
It really is a different story for every hit record. I think it's a formula that includes everything from talent, to effort, and everything in between.
The creative process has become more niche in the sense that it's more about timing and mirroring what might be going on in society and the pop culture world, as opposed to when it was more about creative writing and musicianship. Timing is huge in today's music world!
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
I have a ton of great sights that I visit each and every day. Not just for the sake of prepping for a show, but I am incredibly interested in most of the material from a personal standpoint as well.
Prepping is not just about the gathering of facts. It's about the angle you find when relaying those facts and how those facts are relevant to your audience. I think it is also crucial to be hyper-localized. I find prep from the area that matters most to the immediate and active audience. Satisfy your P1 audience at all times.
8) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
You absolutely have to get out on the streets to see how people are reacting to your appearances and events. This gives your most active listeners an opportunity to give you feedback about anything and everything that might be going on at the radio station. It's also a great indicator and gives you a feel for what is and what might not be working at any given time. It also makes the listener feel like their input is important.
9) Pandora, iHeart, Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and many others have recently introduced music in "The Cloud." What effect will these new music services have on the radio and music industries?
Going back to what I said about the radio industry investing in itself. If we do what we know are the right things to make the business evergreen, then we shouldn't have a problem.
Technology will always have its luxuries and allow for shortcuts. We have to make sure that locality, interaction, and the human factor can never be replaced.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Make yourself invaluable! Learn how to do anything and everything as fast as you can. Be able to change duties at all times.
What do you do in your spare time?
Of course ANYTHING having to do with music is always on the top of the list. I really do like to do a great variety of things....I'm a bit of a chameleon. It ranges from walks on the beach, to biking the shoreline, to walking some trails. I also still love to take in live shows, be it music or comedy. I like participating in and watching sports. I have to get back on the golf course!! For God sakes I live in Florida, I should be out there everyday!
What was the first concert you ever attended?
I guess it was a given that my career would start in rock radio when the first concert I attended was Motley Crue opening up for Ozzy Osbourne!!! (insert devil horns here: \m/ LOL!)
Give us the three Albums you would have if you were stranded on an island for the rest of time?
Showing some diversity here: Toney Carey's Greatest Hits, The Eagles "Hell Freezes Over," and Fates Warning "Parallels."
What is the one thing you could not live without?
Please give us an example of a great promotion that your station recently did?
"Lunch with Lea!" It was a very listener friendly promotion that involved flying listeners to NYC for a weekend of shopping and sightseeing where they would also get a very private and personal experience with meeting and having lunch with Lea Michelle. Pictures and autographs were a part of the up close and personal experience. These are the best types of promotions. The ones that money can't buy!
What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has been involved with to benefit the community?
This is also one that is very humorous! Every year, we do a promotion called "Walk a mile in her shoes" to help a women's shelter called Safe Space for women who have been battered and abused.
The humorous part is where all of the MALES on the staff of the radio station are at our big fund raising walk and have to walk one mile in BRIGHT RED HIGH HEELS! LOL!
Once we do that, it is off to the clubs and bars in the area while still in our heels and asking patrons if they like our legs, and if they could help with a donation.
After we conducted this interview, you were recently released from WGYL due to budget cuts. So what are your plans for the future?
I am absolutely upbeat and ready immediately to continue my career in this great industry. Radio has been in my blood since I was 19, and I look forward to the next chapter.
I bring great multi-format programming experience, operations savvy, talent coaching, and positive leadership. I have always been a team player and can't wait to join a new team!