10 Questions with ... James Raggi
October 27, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My career so far isn't as much a career, as it is a few years of good luck. Especially because my career started as an Intern at the legendary WXKS Kiss 108, Boston the summer after my freshmen year at Boston College.
Even more exciting, my internship was with "The Matty in the Morning Show." I was lucky enough to get hired by Matt to work on his show as an on-air producer after the conclusion of my internship (this is really where all the luck comes in!) I can only assume Matt was running a fever on the day he decided to hire me. But either way, I'm eternally grateful to him for taking a chance on me. After three great years there (2011- Jul 2014) I moved on to where I am now, hosting the morning show alongside the incredibly talented Angie Nash at WAJI (The New 95.1 Best FM) in Fort Wayne, IN.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I don't know if I can pinpoint exactly what it was that got me interested in radio, but I can just always remember loving radio. Growing up just outside NYC, I was lucky enough to listen to what great radio sounds like on a daily basis. Whether it was Scott and Todd on WPLJ, Elvis Duran on Z100, or Boomer and Carton on WFAN, just having the opportunity to listen to great radio, like viewing great art, has always made me passionate about the craft.
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Matty would kill me if I didn't list him first and foremost. He taught me so much, and I can only hope to be able to use some of that training here in Fort Wayne. Unfortunately, me trying to emulate Matty is like a novice trying to do a lap in an F1 car. Matt's got so much experience that it'll take me a while and lots more trial and error to get to that level.
Also, my other mentor has to be my current co-host Angie Nash. In an industry where the greats really know how to connect to the local community, Angie has an uncanny ability to feel the pulse of the community, and I hope to be able to learn some of that from her.
3) Can you please tell us about your experience as Producer of the legendary Matt Siegel show on KISS 108 in Boston?
Producing Matty's show was one of the easiest jobs in the world. Really, the only easier job may be 1st base coach. I say that because he's one of the most talented men in radio, and I really believe that. He just knows what to say and how to say it. You would think that he was bred to be a morning radio host. It was a thrill and an honor to just be there and watch him work. It would be like watching Van Gogh paint ...except Matt has both his ears.
4) What is it about your show that you feel really makes it cut through and how does it feel to have your own morning show at the age of 21?
It's so funny because I always read these interviews and people respond the same way, "my show is different because we really interact with the listeners." Well, everyone's show can't cut through by interacting with listeners.
I like to have listeners call into the show, I think that's great, but one of the things I really focus on (and this comes directly from Matt's guidance) is making the show entertaining, funny, etc. We're performers as well as morning radio hosts, not just people talking. I think it's important to remember to be entertaining and funny day in and day out. As far as my age goes, I just happened to get lucky. But then again most people say I can easily be confused for a 40 year old, I've had some great training and great support. It's very exciting and I can't thank the people at WAJI and Sarkes Tarzian enough for giving me this opportunity.
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
While at Boston's Kiss 108, I had the pleasure of hearing Bob Pittman speak about radio. He made a really great point that radio hasn't marketed itself very well. All of the new technology in audio streaming is constantly in your face about why you should listen, and radio just needs to do the same. The same thing goes for radio personalities. They should transcend radio and be actual celebrities. There is no reason for us to not be and in many other countries (England, Australia, etc), that is the case. So the most important issue is whether or not radio wants to get behind radio.
6) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
Luckily, my co-host and I are right in the demo (though she does have an advantage on me since she's a "she"). But generally, the stuff that we're interested in is the stuff that our audience is interested in. And if we're not sure, we've got tons of friends that we can just text and ask, "Is this cool? Yes or no?"
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Well, you have to start out with your basic TMZ sites, HuffPo, etc. But I also try to go throughout my day thinking, "Is this good for the show? What about this?" As anyone who does radio knows, the show-prep doesn't begin or end, it's just constantly going on before the show, on the fly, after the show and throughout the day.
Also, just scrolling through my news feeds on my social media channels is a great way to see what people are actually talking about, instead of what is just being written about on web sites. A lot of the time social media will have the stories days before the popular websites and TV pick it up.
8) What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
Well, being brand new to WAJI, I haven't had lots of time to get involved with a lot of the charity events here. But there's so much this station does for the community. WAJI is famous for their community involvement, and I'm excited to get involved! We do a radio-thon for Riley's Children's Hospital here in the winter and I will get to host this year. I'm really excited to be a part of that!
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
It really depends on what part of the career you're getting into. I'll speak to the personalities because that's what I know. For people wanting to be a radio personality, know who you are. Know what your persona is.
As the old adage goes, there's a reason Howard Stern was fired to the top. Jimmy Kimmel was fired from 5 out of his 7 radio jobs. Don't be interchangeable, be unique whatever the cost is and it will pay off.
10) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
Well, my father first wanted me to be an investment banker but I didn't want to. Then he wanted me to be a lawyer, but I didn't want to. I don't know what I would do if it wasn't for radio, but if and when I get fired/laid off some time in the next 40 or 50 years, I'll let you know what I end up doing.
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
Well, it's not a stalker story, but for my 20th birthday, while I was still on the Matty show, Matt offered listeners tickets to the Jingle Ball show for any girl willing to come into the studio and make out with me (part of my personality on the show was that I wasn't very good in the lady dept.) After taking like 50 calls (okay, maybe more like 10) we just happened to pick the girl closest to the station. Two years later we're still together!!