10 Questions with ... John DeSantis
April 11, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have been with KHTI (formerly KCXX) for 20 years. Prior to that I was with XHRM/San Diego, KCAL/Riverside-San Bernardino, and KROR/Yucca Valley-Palm Springs.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
It's honestly all I ever wanted to do. One of my Grandma's jobs was changing the records in juke boxes, and she got to keep the old records. I was fortunate enough to have been given this collection at the age of seven. We're talking Elvis, The Beatles, Beach Boys, and more! Once I put that together with my Snoopy turntable and my Radio Shack tape recorder, it was game on! I've actually still got recordings of me playing DJ at age eight!
2) What makes the San Bernardino/Riverside market unique? How does this compare to other markets you have worked at?
First and foremost we are in the shadow of Los Angeles. It's not really affecting us now with Hot AC, but it was a HUGE issue with the Alt-Rock format. The other difference with our market is that there really isn't one city center. The Inland Empire is made up of many cities that have grown together.
3) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Relevance. We work really hard every day to remain the primary option for our listeners.
4) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
Since we flipped to Hot AC in December we've been heavily focusing on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to market Hot 1039. So far it seems to be working pretty well!
5) Today's listener can now access music on their mobile device and stream customized radio or on demand. What effect are on-demand music services such as Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Slacker and others having on the radio and music industries?
Additional options and choices will always affect the radio and music industries. But they really can't be local, and that's where we will continue to dominate. We are in the streets every day telling our story. We recognize that mobile will be crucial moving forward, so we have our own listening app where listeners can find us without the clutter of other corporate radio apps.
6) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
The Hot AC audience is new to me so I've been getting out as much as I can. I love meeting our listeners, and talking to them about the station and music in general. It's really helped us to find our lane.
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?
For me it's really limited to phone apps. I think that's the case for a lot of people. It's pretty awesome to be able to quickly dial up a station in London while I'm at the gym.
8) To what do you attribute your most recent ratings increase?
We've got a mix of music that no one else is playing. I think our market has been looking around for something like this, and now that we're here they've rallied around us.
9) What is the most rewarding promotion you've ever been a part of?
I put on an annual local music show called Localpalooza. We usually have around a dozen local bands on one stage for an all-day event, and it's absolutely my favorite promotion. I was raised on local bands from high school thru college, and that scene will always be a huge part of who I am.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Stay focused and positive, work really hard, and don't listen to anyone that says you can't make it.
What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? With four very active kids there really isn't a lot! I do make it to the gym every day, so there's that.
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
My first internship was at KLOS, and that building was filled with legends like Bob Coburn, Geno Michelini, Steve Downs, Joe Benson and Mark & Brian.
I've also spent the last decade working with a very talented guy named Doug Durocher. He's smart, funny, plugged-in, and a great person. He's currently on the beach awaiting his next opportunity. So if you're looking for a super-star, reach out to Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who do you consider your radio mentors?
I try to learn something from everyone I work with, but there were a couple of important programmers in my career. Kelli Cluque and Dwight Arnold each had very different styles, and between them I was taught multiple ways to go at the same challenge.
What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
I hope that is still coming. But launching a new Hot AC in December after being Alternative for 20 years, and getting the ratings we have from day one is pretty huge!
What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
The only other thing I've ever wanted to do is host a game show. I'm hoping it I can still make that happen!
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Absolutely! Lots! Tons! But you can't look back.
I try to learn from my mistakes, and just move forward.