10 Questions with ... Jeff Dauler
September 12, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at Syracuse University's WJPZ (Z89), and that turned into part-time gigs at (what was then) New City Communications doing on-air and promotions at WYYY (Y94-FM) & WBBS (The brand new B104.7). Mornings started for me when Bill Keeler brought me on board at K-ROCK in Utica, NY. Somehow, I went from Utica to Boston, working at WJMN for a couple years. In the mid-90's, I went to 93.7 KRQ in Tucson as part of the Mojo & Betsy Show, and then to Philly for about a year. I came to Atlanta in 2001 to launch The Bert Show on WWWQ (Q100). We started the Jeff & Jenn Show on WSTR (Star 94.1) Atlanta in March of this year.
1. What Got You Interested In Radio?
A girl. She was working at Z89 in Syracuse and I wanted to meet her. So I signed up to be a part of the station. Because Syracuse was my hometown, I was available to work the summer months ...which gave me a LOT of opportunity to 'play' radio. There were only about 12 of us 'working' while everyone else went back to their hometowns. It was great!
2. Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Four people come to mind, and while I know them all and I worked with them because of radio, the stuff I have learned from them is more about being a cool human and not a radio superstar:
- Mojo, who I worked with in Tucson and is now in Detroit
- Jimmy Baron, who I worked with for a couple of years while my time at Q100 and his time at 99X overlapped
- Leslie Fram, now at CMT but we worked together at Susquehanna Atlanta
- Brian Philips, now at CMT but we worked together at Susquehanna Atlanta
All of them are still good friends of mine (Jimmy is a groomsman in my upcoming wedding) and they very successful in their respective arenas. And while they are some of the best entertainers to work in the business, they are also really solid people. I look up to them for those characteristics.
3. You've been doing mornings with WSTR (Star 94.1) for about six months now after being the executive producer for a very well-known show across the street. How's it feel so far? How does it feel to re-unite with Jenn Hobby?
It feels great! This is exactly where I am supposed to be. The time at The Bert Show was fantastic, but it was time to move on. Star had approached me a few times over the years, but everything lined up for this situation and I couldn't say 'no.' Jenn and I actually became closer friends since she left Q100 a few years ago, and we talked nearly every day. For that reason, it wasn't really a reunion. We just have our conversations in a studio now.
4. How does it feel working with Star, after being their direct competitor for so many years?
I have to admit, the first couple days walking past the logo to my studio or office ... that was odd. But I got past that pretty quickly.
The station is a different station than the one I competed against. Entercom took over and it's a new Star 94.1. The GM, Mike Fowler, is an old friend and one of the fiercest competitors in the industry. He will win. Nothing less than #1 is an option to him. Tony Lorino, the PD, has done great things with the music, image, and brand of the station. We literally just celebrated hitting number one in the target a few days ago because of his leadership. And we work really well together because he is a number-cruncher and knows PPM inside and out. I'm the opposite. We find a middle-ground and it's been perfect so far. Plus he's a great guy.
I'm lucky to like my management, and I think they like me as well.
5. What is it about the Jeff & Jenn Morning Show that really makes it cut through?
We are genuine and authentic. People realize that Jenn and I are truly friends and that is obvious on the air. We tell people what we are and what they can expect by listening to us. And then we deliver on that promise.
We're pretty transparent about what we will and won't do on the show. For example, we have said, "Yes it's an election year and yes there's a lot of discussion to be had about who should be our next President. We are not going to do that here. We'll mention important stories in our news segments, but we will not be discussing politics outside of that.." People have found that clarity refreshing.
And we are different than what similar shows have been delivering. We're refreshing.
6. How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Ha! It's non-stop of course. The day-to-day stuff is pretty easy. After 20+ years in AM drive radio, it's not difficult to take news / pop culture / life and convert it into compelling conversation. The challenge is the next-level stuff. The content that makes people not only enjoy listening, but makes them tell their friends that they listen and then convince their friends to listen as well.
That stuff comes when the day-to-day show is prepped and ready, when the mind is clear, and when you least expect it. The 'prep' for pulling that off is to have a great team on the show and at the station, ready to go when the opportunity is there.
7. How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
I don't think we are embracing it on the Jeff & Jenn Show as much as we should be. We will. It's important for two big reasons. It allows a personality to continue (or start) conversations after the show ends, and it serves as a 24/7 reminder that you exist and that you generate content and that your content is good ... which hopefully drives tune-in to your show.
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Upper management that is out of touch with how younger listeners consume, share, and create content. While I like the studies that show "90% of adults listen to radio more than three hours per week," my fear is a HUGE drop-off at some point that makes radio the next newspaper. We CAN prepare for it ... I don't know that we are.
9. Besides social media, what are some of the other ways that you stay in tune with your audience?
By talking to them. I ask anyone in the demo I can about the show, the content, what the most important thing they think about is every day, the first thought they have when they wake up ... all of that along with friends and listeners from on-line. I message them privately and say "I need help with the show! Can you answer a question for me?" People LOVE to help!
10. What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
We haven't really done anything here yet ... it's only been a few months. BUT, I am pretty proud of this cool experience we created for a woman named Monica. She was going to turn 21 in the hospital, and was just down the hall from where Jenn's daughter was getting her first chemo treatments. We met her and loved her spirit and attitude. So I posted on Facebook and mentioned on the air that listeners should send her a birthday greeting. Over 2500 listeners did that. I couldn't believe the response! It was really great.
STAR 94.1 just announced that Kelly "Cheese" Cheesborough will be joining the Jeff & Jenn show as your new Executive Producer. Please tell us your thoughts on Kelly joining your team and how do you feel she will impact the show?
Jenn actually found Kelly working in a boutique when she went in to get her daughter a hat! She called me that night and said, "We need to work with this woman!" So Jenn called the store back, described Kelly, and a week later we were all having coffee together. It didn't take long for us to realize that she had "it" and she is going to be the person who keeps us on track, focused, and will bring a great balance to the show. This is her first week as Executive Producer and she's already kicking ass! Love her!
We hear you're getting married soon? Who's the lucky lady?
I'm getting married on October 22. My fiancée's name is Callie Riggs. We met initially via Twitter because we had many mutual friends in the Atlanta music community. She is the Executive Assistant to HLN's Robin Meade, so we have the exact same hours ... she actually goes in BEFORE me most days!
What do you do in your spare time?
Standup comedy. And nod when my fiancée asks me wedding-related questions.
What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC format compared to other genres?
I've only worked in pop formats, so this is the next, natural stop for me as I get older. I want to be authentic to the demo I serve ... and it was becoming difficult to do that on a 18-34 station.
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Save your pennies, be nice to everyone, find a mentor and be a mentor. People in this business show you who they are, so pay attention to their actions and not their words.
What makes the Atlanta market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
I felt like when I worked in Philly or Boston, there was an awareness of what the nearby 'burbs were like. At least each area had some sort of reputation or 'claim to fame.' Atlanta is strange because there are people who grew up 20 miles from the center of the city and have never been downtown. Or people who moved to in-town ATL and have never been 'outside the perimeter.' The communities are pretty isolated. It's interesting, and sometimes challenging.
Who is your best friend in the business?
Jenn Hobby, It's such a great thing that I get to work with her every single day. I'm really blown away by this opportunity.
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
Best: Leap and the net will appear.