10 Questions with ... Matthew Boutwell
October 19, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WJZF (97.1)/Standish, MN (2008-2009)
- WJJB (96.3)/Portland, MN (2009-2011)
- WLAM/WLVP/Lewiston-Auburn, MN (2011-2012)
- WEZR/WOXO/Lewiston-Auburn, MN - (2012-Present)
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I grew up without cable in Western Maine, but I happened to be a huge sports fan. I discovered the magic of listening to games from all over the country on AM Radio and became hooked after that.
2) What makes radio in Central Maine unique? How does this compare to other markets you have worked at?
Working in L/A (The other L/A Lewiston-Auburn) has been unique because we're the only live radio station left that is actually originating its broadcasts from town. It's almost a rebirth for radio in the area since we launched Z105.5 last year (translator for WEZR-AM). Listeners know the clients and guests we have on the morning show, and we focus on the area we're in which is much different from when I worked in Portland.
3) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Giving people a reason to tune in. We try to do unique things (high school sports, Chamber Breakfasts remotes) so when people tune in to us, they know they won't find it anywhere else down the road.
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Social media has made contests much more interactive and it has made feedback that much more direct from the listener. Big events, contests, all go through the social media pages. It's also allowed us to market our morning show guests each day by tagging them the night before, and also showing the daily mug photos (each guests takes a picture with one of our Z105.5 mugs) so people can go back and listen on-demand.
5) Today's listener can now access music on their mobile device and stream customized radio or on demand from the Cloud. What effect are on-demand music services such as Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, RDIO, Slacker and others having on the radio and music industries?
I think they make people have to work harder. You can't just play the same stuff people can get through their phones or other devices. Hosts need to be clever, relevant, and provide info they can't get with those other services (traffic, promos, etc).
6) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
The majority of my audience is females aged 25-54, and being the PD/morning host, I'm able to talk with many of them when they come in as guests. I also pay attention to what my wife and her friends listen to (because they are right smack dab in the demo). If a song is making them switch the channel, I try to find out why.
7) 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?
I use TuneIn Radio to listen to the radio when going on long trips out of the range of my stations, or to listen to sports in other places. It's always nice to cue up a station on my car radio that I know I wouldn't normally be able to listen to.
8) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
My current station owner, Dick Gleason, would have to be the biggest one. It's the only place so far where I've gotten constructive feedback and not just "Hey, you sound good". He's also helped me put the spotlight on the area where we live.
9) What is the most rewarding promotion you've ever been a part of?
Broadcasting live from our local Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfasts. It had always been a kick-around idea, but once it was made a reality, it's changed the way our station has gotten new business as new chamber members get a short interview during the breakfast. This allows them to dip their toes into radio and get a feel for it. It's been helpful for revenue and for visibility.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Listen to everyone, but make sure you're not changing who you are. We live in an area of social media and reality television, so you can't just come in and play a character on the radio. Be real, connect, and draw listeners in. Listen to other stations from all over the country, you never know what you might hear that can be that "A-Ha" moment for your career.
What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd like to see AM be utilized instead of being phased out. Those signals can be monsters, especially for overnights. People will tune in if you give them a reason to. Even if the AMs (with help of FM translators) can just be the voice of a region, it gives everyone in a community a landing place and an identity. Save the AMs!