10 Questions with ... Tish Iceton
August 10, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 98.1 CHFI/Toronto, CN (2005-Present)
- Host of two Specialty Shows/Swing/Evenings/Weekends/Programming
- JAZZ FM/Toronto, Morning Host (2004)
- (97.3 EZ ROCK)/Toronto, CNSwing/Weekends (2001-2003)
- CKPR/Thunder Bay, CN Morning Host (1991-2001)
- ROCK 94 Thunder Bay, CN, PD/Mornings Host (1990-1991)
- CKPR/Thunder Bay, CN, Midday Host (1989-1990)
- CJLB/Thunder Bay, CN, Morning Host (1985-1988)
- (C100) Halifax, Nova Scotia, CN, Morning Host (1984-1985)
- CJLB/Thunder Bay, CN, Afternoon Host (1981-1984)
- CHTK Prince Rupert, B.C., Midday Host, (1981)
- CHNS Halifax, CN, Traffic Reporter/Overnight Host (1980-1981)
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
It was always drawn in by the music on the radio. Prompting from others gave me the idea to pursue radio. Radio kind of found me really. The story of how it all unfolded was too serendipitous not to be meant to be.
2) You do radio in Canada, but you also spend a lot of time here in the U.S. What makes the Canadian audience unique compared to us Americans?
I'm not so sure the Canadian audience is that much different to be honest. They listen for the same reason anybody listens to the radio. To feel good, to hear the music they like, for company and for information. (Opinions expressed are my own).
3) What are your thoughts on the Canadian Content Law (CANCON) and what are some of your strategies to comply with the requirements and how do you seek out new Canadian artists to play?
In the very early years after the CRTC implemented the rule that radio stations must play 25% Canadian music during their broadcast day (now 35% except for some new stations at 40%), radio scrambled to fill the quota.
Fortunately today, the Canadian music industry is alive and flourishing and has been for many years. The Canadian content requirement has without a doubt been the catalyst for the success of many Canadian artists. Working in Toronto, we're fortunate to still have record reps visit and present new artists regularly. It's always exciting to hear a new song and then discover it's Canadian. Franceso Yates, Eric Zayne, Trevor Guthrie, Elise LeGrow are a few of the artists that currently come to mind. (Opinions expressed are my own).
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
To quote Albert Einstein - "Everything is energy and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics". The collective conscience energy that is radio, whether as a whole, a cluster, a station, a manager or an on-air host will get the reality they believe. Radio's own image of itself is the most important issue facing radio. I am in Einstein's camp. (Opinions expressed are my own).
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
If social media is a series of 'NOW" moments we do it very well with Facebook. Our audience engages with us there easily and honestly believing they are truly part of our family. (Opinions expressed are my own).
6) Please tell us about your oldies show?
In mid-June we began a new countdown show, airing Saturday's 10 until noon and I am responsible for researching, writing and hosting. It is called "Top 10 Now & Then Countdown". We count down the top 10 songs currently on CHFI and the top 10 songs from that week in the 2000s. It flows nicely into my love of telling interesting stories in the shortest time possible.
The oldies show on Sunday morning had been on the air for a long time and was voice-tracked by the morning host. When I was hired to host weekend mornings it became my responsibility to host live.
"Telling the story behind the song" has always been one of my favorite things to do, so I began to do that, without asking anyone if it was OK. Everyone in management was happy with what I was doing as was the audience. The show has been a solid #1 with Females & Adults from almost from the beginning ten years ago. I program the music for the oldies show, and we now call it "REWIND", and I program another similar show that airs Saturday night. The music on both shows has moved forward considerably since I began hosting and programming. (Opinions expressed are my own).
7) What type of features do you run on your show?
It's the little "I didn't know that" nuggets I like to dig up and drop into my show. Even if I think it's common music knowledge chances are the audience has never heard it before so I uncover interesting 'things' and weave them into a story. With so many 70s and 80s artists on tour these days I make an effort to tie the story into what they are doing today. It's interesting to the audience and also allows the show to play 'Oldies' but still sound current.
8) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
One of the most helpful little books I purchased early in my career was "The Art of Personality Radio" by Jay Trachman. That book taught me to observe and make notes about everything I saw about general everyday stuff. Today social media provides great stories and ideas but what is happening on my street, the conversation at the supermarket, or what I've overheard at a restaurant. Those observations still provide the best REAL breaks. I sit behind the mic with topics and ideas and execute them around and according to the music I am playing.
9) How are you using new technologies in your personal life to listen to music, and what observations have you made about how today's listeners use technology?
One of my favorite apps is Shazam for identifying music. Sometimes I'm surprised by the artists that show up and that they have several albums that I've never heard. I find that exciting actually. It's still "new" to me. I use technology to listen to American radio almost everyday on my computer and mobile device and I find new music there. I notice twenty-somethings find music in the "ethers." They were born Internet ready and plugged-in so music seems to effortlessly find them.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Understand first that radio is a business. Not every PD is going to 'get you' or 'dig' your style. Learn who you are, be real and have fun. If you are not going to the station everyday with enthusiasm and more ideas than you can possibly use, then perhaps it's not for you. And remember, no one is responsible for your happiness - Period. Read the plethora of free information written by consultants and radio management. Discover for yourself the science, the business, the creative nature and the energy of radio.
(Opinions expressed are my own).
What do you do in your spare time?
Music is always on. I spend as much time as I can walking the beach in Malibu and spending time with my daughter who lives and works in Los Angeles. Along with my radio career, I also have a very successful voiceover career. I provide V/O's on corporate, TV and radio projects for clients around the world and I have had the privilege of working on many amazing and beautiful projects. My narration work currently can be heard on ID Discovery Channel on the second season of the series 'FEAR THY NEIGHBOR".
Please tell us what radio talent really inspires you?
I enjoy listening to good radio bus drivers and those that sound like they're having fun. Gary Bryan and Shotgun Tom Kelly on KRTH/Los Angeles, Elvis Duran on Z100 NYC, Scott Shannon on WCBS/New York and Willy Percy on CFMI in Vancouver are shows I tune into regularly. The ease and flow of what they do is incredible. They make it seem effortless, which is what it should be. Love them!
Who do you consider your radio mentors?
I haven't had any mentors, but prior to the Internet I listened closely to out of market radio wherever I went and I made cassettes … tons of cassettes! KDWB was a one of my favorites (we spent a lot of time in Minneapolis), The Power Pig in Tampa, CHUM and CFTR when ever I was in Toronto. I loved giving attention to the structure of a break and how it was delivered. I did not attend a broadcasting school so this was how I worked on my own personal development.
Tell us what music we would find on your playlist right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
I'm a huge Ray LaMontange fan, but I have always been a singer songwriter lover. Ray has a loneliness in his voice that I just love. His latest release and tour showed growth in being more comfortable and less shy.
I also love Brooks & Dunn. I've followed them in concert all over North America. 'It's Getting Better All The Time" is my fave. I love the lyrics and the ache in it.
Melody Gardot's voice is pure and her arrangements are beautiful.
And then there is this new guy named Chris Janson. 'Buy Me A Boat' is the best song on country radio right now. Chris is 'the real deal' (I have been off country recently but he's brought me back).
Joni Mitchell? Duh! I hung out in California in the 70's for a while because Joni sang about it. I guess I was easily influenced those days!
Charlie Puth, "Marvin Gaye." This kid has a lot of 'doo-wop soul' for someone so young. Love his EP!
Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green, John Mayer w/John Scofield, Beth Hart, George Michael, Lake Street Drive, Simply Red, Paolo Nutini (big fan), Patty Griffin, Frank Sinatra (I do love jazz and R&B). Music is the most important thing in my life, PERIOD!
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Hosting the morning show at C100 in Halifax in 1984, I was the first solo female host, which was a big deal at that time. There could have been many opportunities from that, but I had just gotten married and my husband wasn't adjusting to life in Halifax, so after a year we returned to Thunder Bay radio. I never regretted this decision.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
My first job was overnights at CHNS in Halifax where I had to read news, sports and weather every hour. Mount St. Helen's had just erupted and while I was doing the news I said, Mount St. Helen's had " ... an ASS explosion" rather than "ash explosion." Fortunately, it was the middle of the night.
I once cried for a moment on-air during the CHFI Oldies Show. I was doing a feature on Peter, Paul & Mary, and Mary Travers had just passed away. We were in the beginning stages of "moving" the music on the show forward and I was feeling sad about that. I was totally on board with the change, but deep inside this was the music "that helped change the world", and I was sad that we were leaving it behind.
I have NEVER had such a massive outpouring of positive responses to anything like that before. All the lines lit up, I received tons of emails and notes. One listener sent me the book "Puff The Magic Dragon" (the song I played). She wrote inside how much she loved listening to me being "real." That was what everyone said. They loved that I was open and shared my feelings with them. I love my listeners, and they love me. It's all good.
What is the one truth that has always been constant in your career?
Always be real and have fun. Who doesn't want to be a passenger on the bus with the driver who's singing and cracking jokes and making everyone feel good? That is the bus driver I am and I view my job as that of a salesperson (selling the greatest place to be playing the best music, all to the "back of mind" of the listener). I want you to feel something as you listen just as the people who sang, wrote, produced and played the music coming out of the box as they made it. They were all doing what they love and while they were doing it they felt something. I see my job as the ambassador of that feeling. It's my job to translate "THAT" to my listener. It is always about the music for me.
ZANE LOWE says it best when it comes to how I feel, "What happens when I hear music on radio is it's the combination of the compression, the headphones, the microphone, the ability to share it that means I kind of go into another place." - Zane Lowe.
(Opinions expressed are my own).