10 Questions with ... Eric Forand
January 11, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Well, it kind of came out of nowhere!
One fateful day in June 2014, I was doing housework and I had every radio in the house blaring. Planet 96.7 ran a promo seeking interns for the summer. What had me hooked was the line "... and you could even be on the air!"
So, I reached out to Stevie Beats on Facebook, E-mailed my resume, and he invited me over to the studios. It was a shot in the dark, but worth it nonetheless. I was baffled that they even allowed me into the studio? Hell, I'm still baffled by that!
The internship was a blast! We had fun making radio, and I learned a lot about life. What more can you ask for? Well, to get hired, of course! Slater hired me for Planet on September 8th, and Jennifer Foxx hired me for Star 92.9 effective October 3, 2014. From there, I was the go-to guy if they needed a shift filled up until Tara Madison left for WTCB. That was roughly two months ago ... and it still doesn't seem real.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I was eight years old. I had a battery operated radio shaped like a Tropicana orange and a "straw" as the antenna. Mom sent away for it with points from orange juice containers, I think. It fascinated me that someone in a studio, or broom closet as the case may be, was playing music for everyone to enjoy, and they had fun doing it! That would lead to me operating a pirate radio station in high school ... that had actual listeners! It had a website, a live stream, and promotional swag.
2) What makes the Burlington market unique? How does this compare to other markets you have worked at?
As the Burlington-Plattsburgh market is the first one I've worked in, it's truly like no other! I also grew up in this market, listening to pretty much every station at one point. It's incredible the number of heritage stations we have in this market.
Radio aside, the people make the place. As the majority of my family is here in Vermont, I spent a lot of time here as a kid. Vermont is, and always has been a beautiful state with great scenery, filled with down to earth people and great beer!
3) What is it about your show that you feel really makes it cut through?
As I have only a few months of full time radio under my belt, I'm just starting to take ownership of my daypart(s). The first bit that has taken flight is "Eric's Mixtape" for Star 92.9. The Mixtape consists of six hand picked songs from one year, and it's up to the listener to guess what year it is. Of course, there's a prize for a random winner. It's an adaptation of something that I loved listening to back in the day, and I hope it takes off and people enjoy it, have fun listening, and they look forward to the next one. It's the kick off to our popular "Your Party Weekend" specialty programming, that brings in the "90s throwbacks.." The first Mixtape seemed successful ... the phones were ringing off the hook!
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
That's the million dollar question isn't it? Thanks to the smartphone, more music and content is readily available at one's fingertips. So it's all about choice now and people are impatient. So, you've got to give them a reason to tune in.
5) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
How are we not? No matter the platform; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, whatever... our listeners, our friends, can live vicariously and be a part of our antics through their phone. It's yet another tool for making them a part of what's going on, and to show that we are live, local, and care about the community we serve. Oh, and we have fun with it!
6) What can radio be doing with their websites to better serve our audience?
Make sure that you have great content, in multiple formats, that is viewable over every platform. It can't look like crap!
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Wake up. Read my E-mail. Coffee. Check social media and browse the show prep. Drag carcass out of bed. Coffee. Attempt to locate clean clothes, settle on the "best of the worst" of the heap of clothes on the floor. Drive to work. Eat breakfast and drink more coffee. Read news, dig deeper into the prep, check social media. More coffee.
8) 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?
It seems like if there's "an app for that" and it will deliver music, everyone has a few of those apps on their phone, and one absolute favorite "go-to." Whether it's your station's app, Pandora, or whatever, there's an app that gives them what they want, when they want it. It's "generation ME" and it's all about instant gratification.
Lately, I've really been embracing Spotify for listening to what's up and coming. Also, if I'm out and about, and hear a song I like, I'll Soundhound it, and it's added to my Spotify so I can listen to it later. Tune-In radio is another great app, where you can listen to radio from pretty much anywhere!
9) What is the most rewarding promotion you've ever been a part of?
The "Making Strides" walk was probably the most rewarding so far. We started off handing out promo items and saying hello to people, as Mike and Mary were emceeing the event. After that, it was off to the first watering station at the first mile of the walk. Not only did it start snowing out of nowhere, but we ran out of water! Thankfully, everyone had gone through! After that, the Frozen Fins and I went to mile 3 of the walk and handed out more water and cookies. It was rewarding in the regard that we were of service to others who were out in support of loved ones facing breast cancer. It didn't matter that we were all chilled to the bone because we helped make a difference.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Long story short, be willing to listen, learn, work crazy hours and couch surf if necessary. Also, get a nice pair of headphones... AKG K240 MKii would be my recommendation. How about a product placement deal, AKG? :)
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
At the risk of sounding like a brown-noser, I'm going to go ahead and name my colleagues here, and I can't name just one. We have a staff of human Swiss Army knives in our office. They do everything incredibly well and they know the business inside and out.
Who do you consider your mentors?
My internship started with Stevie Beats on Planet 96.7. Let me tell you, he has the patience of a Saint! I've picked the brains of Ryan Matlack, Jamie Dennis, Mary Cenci, Mike Czarny and Tara Madison, many times. Of course, I've badgered my PDs, Jennifer Foxx and Slater for advice too. Name any one of my colleagues, and, I'm thankful for their expertise and input.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
In this order; radio DJ, architect, teacher, radio DJ, TV producer, radio DJ. You think I'm kidding, don't you? Ha! Ha!
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air? (dead air ... forget a mic was still on ... etc.)
I've probably had more than I care to admit.... but there was one "oh, s**t" moment.
I had just done a bit that used canned audio in conjunction with my live read of a story. At the end of the bit, I powered into the stop-set and I didn't realize the mic was still on. Well, I realized it two minutes later as I was sending an email. Yeah, I was going back through the skimmer making sure I didn't let out a string of profanity. Thank goodness I held my tongue!
What do you believe will be the next trend in music technology?
Hopefully less auto-tune.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
The best and worse might be for someone to say "be yourself." That may be all well and good, but if everyone hates me for who I really am ... I'm screwed!