10 Questions with ... Shawn Tempesta
April 25, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WXKS (Kiss 108)/Boston, MA (2002-2003) - Board-Op
- WLNH (98.3)/Laconia, NH (2004-2005) - Weekends
- WFHN (Fun 107)/New Bedford/Fall River, MA (2005) - Weekends
- KMXB (Mix 94.1)/Las Vegas, NV (2006-2007) - Weekends + Webmaster
- WBMX (Mix 98.5/Mix 104.1)/Boston, MA (2007-2010) - Weekends
- WFHN (Fun 107)/New Bedford/Fall River, MA (2008-2009) - Weekends
- KMXB (Mix 94.1)/Las Vegas, NV (2010-Present) - Afternoons, APD/MD of Rewind 94.1 HD2
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I grew up enamored with radio. My mom would tell me I wasn't allowed to listen to Kiss 108 (from high atop the Pru!) because, essentially, it was Satan's music. So of course, I snuck a listen whenever I could. I grew up listening to the legendary Lady D (the REAL Diana Steele), Dale Dorman, "Ahhtie The One Man Pahhhty" and of course Matty. The station sounded larger than life itself (still does).
Using my dad's karaoke machine and my boom box and I would essentially make airchecks when I was 12 with the three CD's I had ("KWS - Please Don't Go" was a power). The name of the station? "KIDZ 101.1" I would hand the tapes to my music teacher to listen to.
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
The guy who gave me my first radio job, Chris Ialuna (former PD of WLNH in New Hampshire, no longer in the biz) was an important early mentor of mine. He beat the fake announcer voice out of me, helped me grow up a bit, and got things started for me. Since then, I've gotten to work with a ton of incredible programmers who have helped shape me. My current PD Jonathan "J. Love" Campbell has been incredible in that sense. Charese Fruge, Brandon Bell, J.R. Reitz, Cat Thomas, Justin Chase, the list goes on and on. I have been fortunate.
My biggest "mentor" is also one of my best friends Tim Clarke. He's head of digital at Cox Media Group now, but I knew him when he was hosting an Internet radio show out of his parent's basement. He's a little younger than me, but he is one of the most talented people in the industry today, and I'm fortunate to be able to call on him when I need advice.
3) What makes the Las Vegas market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Vegas is unlike any other market in the country when it comes to booking shows. Our "Bite Of Las Vegas" event has been going for nearly two decades and draws about 20,000 people. But booking that show when the Las Vegas Strip is looming next door is nearly impossible. Casinos pay artists BIG BUCKS to perform. It's tough to compete with that. Yet, every year in the 11th hour, the station pulls it out (props to J Love and those before him) and we book a great line-up.
Then, after you've booked everything, you have to deal with scheduling conflicts. "Life Is Beautiful" festival, "Rock In Rio" and the "iHeartRadio Music Festival" all land at the same time as Bite. It's torture.
4) You also host "The Morning Blend" on the local ABC affiliate. How does doing a TV show help you with the delivery of your radio show?
I think it's the other way around. My experience in radio makes me quick on my feet to roll with the punches of a lifestyle and entertainment television show where unscripted things happen on the fly. Living in a television world exclusively doesn't give you that ability to duck and weave as most local programming is scripted almost to the letter. That is why the unscripted moments you see in television have most anchors stuttering a bit, where a radio talent would be able to harness that moment and make it entertaining.
5) You also invented "Better Bands" and "Better Nuts" to improve the Electrovoice microphone mounting system. Please tell us what inspired you to bring this product to market?
I have been talking into the RE20 almost my entire career. Anyone reading this that also has probably had those rubber bands snap on you, or the nut that holds the mount to the boom come undone and have the mic slam on the console. EVERY. STATION. I'VE. EVER. WORKED, AT!
One day, my friend Fred Bennett, who is an engineer at CBS Radio Las Vegas, walked into the studio saying he wanted to 3D print those rubber suspension bands that break every 6-9 months. I said, "SCREW THAT, let's fix the system." There's a really niche market there, but it's a market! So, we sketched out a new design, put it into a 3D model, put it out for bid, and since April 2015, we've sold over 10,000 bands to premiere stations including ESPN. Every RE20 on the network has our bands on it, which is impressive for something we package on our kitchen table. The band lasts EONS longer than the originals.
Fred found the next flaw, the nut, and took that project on his own to great success as well.
I've stared at the microphone for long enough to know what was wrong with it. It's cool to be able to bring something to life and have it be successful without a lick of advertising.
6) What is it about your afternoon show that you feel really makes it cut through?
I try my best to make the afternoon show as lively as possible for a music-intensive, "PPM World" show. I use bite-sized prep, funny musings, an engaging, funny cross-talk with Angie (our Nights star).
Sometimes you wonder if any of these things "land", then you bump into someone in public who recalls the joke or comment back to you and you're like "OK, it works". The most important part is to remain hyper-local. The Cosmopolitan hotel had one of their pool areas erupt in flames, and I covered it on-air and on our website. We had several people calling and tweeting that my show was providing better updates than the news organizations in town.
At the end of the day, I inherited a radio show on a station that has already gained the trust of the community and I try to maintain that trust.
7) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
The biggest issue with radio today is not listenership. It's there. It's monetizing it. Every station wants to be Adults 25-54, but when an advertiser in today's world can now target an ad to 25-31 year-old left-handed Journey fans from Pittsburgh ... it's almost impossible to compete. The ears are there. Just convincing your advertisers (and your staff) that they are there is the important part.
8) What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole?
Sorry to say, many radio station website designs (with few exceptions) are ad-infused trash. A station's website is an extension of the brand, and if you arrive to the site to pop-unders, pop-ups, page takeovers, clickable siderails, and other intrusive paid features then your listener will think less of your brand.
Looking at a site like Nova's in Australia, they have nice branding, sensible advertising locations, and it isn't an obstacle course to get to the article you want to get to.
Ultimately, few will think of your site FIRST when it comes to celebrity news. There are way too many sources. There's way too much competition. Dominate what you're good at: local, and the station itself. We've had a post go out about what our city has wanted forever (Ikea, Chick-Fil-A, etc... we are getting all of it) and what we need next. The hits on that article outperformed the main page of the site for a couple days. Things like that (articles that are captivating and they can't see anywhere else) that is what gets people in.
A successful campaign I launched in 2011 was "Sexiest Man Of Mix", a March Madness style bracket of the hottest male artists on the station. We increased that month's unique hits by over 100% versus the prior year. We had 1.8 million votes and were re-Tweeted by 9 of the 16 artists and Tweeted by people in dozens of countries. It was a huge success. So huge, four iHeart stations stole ... er...borrowed the idea the following year and did it a month before us. The second year was not nearly as much of a success because of it. It was one of those simple ideas that created huge growth.
9) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
Invest in tomorrow's talent. The talent pool has dwindled in this medium after the move to syndicated major dayparts and out of market, tracked night shows. When that live shift DOES open who is going to fill it? Invest in the future or there will be none. And stop airing Kars4Kids commercials.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Radio is an awesome job if you can get it. If you are part-time treat it as a hobby. If you sweat getting that full-time job every day and get bent out of shape, it's going to make you nuts. Hobbies are something you love and you'd do for free (which is good because you'll almost work for free). If your hard work GETS YOU A GIG? Awesome! If not, at least you are channeling that creative energy. That said, don't stop trying if you want it bad enough, and be prepared to move.
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
I would have to give the honor to Brandon Bell, my former APD/MD/Imaging Director. I tell you, this guy is a grinder. He would be the first to arrive at events and the last person to leave. He totally imaged the station on a regular basis, and programmed all while having a newborn (who is all grown now). He is incredibly talented, hard-working, and his gig at KBIG/Los Angeles is well deserved.
What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC formats compared to other genres?
Don't tell anyone, but I always wanted to be on Top 40! I loved my time at Fun 107 ... the phones are always hot. At Hot AC, the phones aren't as lively (sans the morning show) so you have to make your own fun which I do. And the beauty is I never have to say "Fetty Wap".
Who is your best friend in the business?
Tim Clarke, hands down. You may know him as the Asian Sensation at Cox Media Group. I know him as the kid who convinced the early 2000's dance group DHT to come into his parent's basement for his internet radio show.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
It actually happened on TV during a dog adoption segment. This dog had impeccable breath, and I wanted to comment on it. I wanted to say "I've dated girls with worse breath than you". I ended up saying, "I've dated girls with worse breasts... ".
Do you have any good stalker stories? Misty requests? "Fatal Attractions?"
My first stalker's name was Roxanne (at WLNH/Laconia). I saved all her calls, and I had a stalker demo in my early years.
What is your favorite TV commercial?
Buy.com had a spot that was "Buy.com" in white text on a black background. That was it. For 30 seconds. One of those spots where you kind of HAVE TO look at the screen and ask if something is wrong. Sure the company was a flop, but that was genius.