10 Questions with ... Scott Alexander
October 10, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- iCLU - Professor of Radio Communications 2016 - Present
- KBBY (B95.1)/Ventura, CA - Morning Drive Air Personality - 2011-2016
- KHAY/Ventura, CA - MD/Morning Personality - 2005-2011
- Dr. Laura Show - Fill-in Board Op - 2008-2009
- KBBY (B95.1)/Ventura, CA - Air Personality - 2003-2005
- Successful Technologies - Research & Development Consultant - 2003
- The Weakest Link / Gurin Productions - Production Assistant/Statistician 2001-2002
- KRUZ/Santa Barbara, CA - Weekend Air Talent - 2001-2002
- NBC Enterprises Exec. Asst./Television Syndication Sales - 2000-2001
- Pop.com/DreamWorks/Imagine Ent. - Assoc.& Interactive Producer - 1999-2000
- DreamWorks SKG - Exec. Asst./Television Research Coordinator - 1995-2000
- KRUZ/Santa Barbara, CA - Weekend Air Talent - 1996-1997
- KNJO/Thousand Oaks, CA - Weekend Air Talent - 1995
- KCAQ/Oxnard-Ventura, CA - Weekend Air Talent - 1992-1994
- KSLY/San Luis Obispo, CA - On-Air Announcer - 1990-1991
- KLZZ/San Luis Obispo, CA - Mornings/Promotions Director - 1990
- KGOT/Anchorage, AK - On-Air Announcer - 1984-1990
- KYAK/ Anchorage, AK - On-Air Announcer - 1983-1984
- KBCN/ Anchorage, AK - On-Air Announcer - 1982-1983
- KACY-A/Ventura, CA - On-Air Announcer - 1980-1981
- KENI-A/Anchorage, AK - On-Air Announcer - 1978-1980
1. What Got You Interested In Radio?
While taking Media Production in High School, I happened on a dance that was being DJ'd by a local radio jock and I asked him about getting into the business. He told me to come and see him at the station to get involved in their internship program. Ever since Then ... as they say ... the rest is history.
2. You recently joined iCLU/Thousand Oaks and Cal Lutheran University to teach a class about radio giving the students a chance to create their own shows on Internet radio station. Please tell us how the program is going and what kind of interest about radio you're getting from your students?
The Students are finding out that there is a lot more to radio than they thought. Their dreams about being a "radio star" and their execution are two different things. But I understand that they are in the process of learning and I tell them to dream big and move forward during the execution. My curriculum is designed to release the student's genius and as my predecessor, Lee Marshall, once told me, "You have permission to be excellent." I tell them what to do but not how to do it. They always surprise me with their ingenuity and I learn from them as well.
3. Do you feel the younger generation still has a passion for radio the way veterans in the business did when they broke in?
Human nature never changes, only our social norms. They have a "passion" for radio but not in the same way "veterans" do. They can't because the universe has changed! We didn't have social media to supplement programming and promotion. Now all of those things are incorporated into the equation and can't be erased from the paradigm. The genie is out of the bottle.
4. What suggestions are you giving your students on show prep?
Prepare to be spontaneous! Always over prepare! When thinking of content always think of the pebble in the pond, start local and move out from there. I forbid any news about the Kardashians (all the publicity money can buy). It's too easy and lazy ... plus everybody else is "doing it." So serve your listeners with stories and news that they can't find on the bottom of their shoe.
For my own shows, I surf primetime TV to keep up on what's hot. I read close to ten web sites a day and we have breaking headlines and entertainment news E-mail alerts. Plus, I use a prep service to help with some of the audio bits.
5. Are you seeing some potential future talent in your class that really have a passion for radio? Or does it seem that most are just fulfilling an elective?
I can tell myself that they all gathered in order to listen to me spout wisdom all day, or they realized that the basket weaving class was already full. What I do know is that everyone who has stumbled into my class now is getting an appreciation for the medium and learning the importance of "Linear Communication." Linear Thinking, Linear Writing = Linear Speaking. A beginning, a middle and an end...hopefully with a payoff, stinger or a chuckle.
6. What tricks do you teach your students that they should always use when they crack the mic?
I teach them first of all, that it's not important how you sound as much as what you say. The voice of the "real" guy is more important than having great pipes, but that still doesn't excuse not regarding "Radio 101" guidelines. Keep it tight and bright!
7. Are your students doing podcasts as well?
They can start one on their own, if they like, and I don't discourage them to follow that direction. But I do encourage them to imagine that they are in this business to make money and unless they are a big name brand or have a social media following to match it will just be art that feeds their passion. That's good and rewarding on many levels.
Bob Eubanks recently visited the class and said something profound, "Radio is not about you (the jock) it's about your listeners".
8. How are your students using social media to market the radio station and their shows? What platforms are they using the most?
Facebook is for kids to put up all their good works for Grandma and Grandpa to see. The other platforms would give them a heart attack! Although Facebook is fading from the younger demographic, it still remains the social media of choice to start all other social media posts for now.
9. What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations?
I have a pending patent on that, but what I can say is that radio will serve the web. All traditional media will serve the web. The web is on your phone, and you will be able to transact commerce with the push of a button in the near future.
10. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Radio needs to stay relevant to future generations. Ford has recently announced that they will not be putting the AM Band in cars starting next year This is just the beginning. Terrestrial radio will be obsolete in less than ten years and all "radio" will be an APP on your phone and car interactive dashboard.
"Moore's Law" seems to be the order of our medium and all media. Change is inevitable. I teach my students the one thing that will not change is "Human Interaction", the more mechanized we become, the more we will crave the human connection. How many friends do you have on Facebook? So the basic principles of broadcasting are constant human interaction that pays off on a live and local level. Someone that is passionate about what they are relating to, the weather, the new local pub or attraction that affects them, their family and their community.
The industry has done itself a disservice by programming its listeners not to respond to the radio, by running "robot DJs" filling in less listened to dayparts. I understand counting beans but there's a lot of great talent not getting a chance to "cut their teeth" and grow into becoming great broadcasters because at the end of the day, their future APPs are going to be personality driven brands. Everybody is playing the same songs on the radio so loyalty will be built by personalities. Loyalty builds TSL and ratings. Now who's counting beans?
What do you do in your spare time?
I golf and I fill out questionnaires for Mark Strickland. I also produce a real estate show with a local agent/broker named Bob Mallison of The Consumer's Group on Sunday mornings on KHAY here in Ventura.
Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Larry Wayne of K Love, Sean Lynch and Lee Marshall are personal friends. John London, The Grease Man, and Jim Ladd and Jackson Armstrong were heroes.
Tell us what music we would find on your playlist or phone right now?
Neil Young's channel on Pandora.
You allow your students to present a "Free Form" format for their shows. What career in radio path are your students most interested in?
Many of them are interested in sports broadcasting. Especially with the LA Rams moving in next door for spring training. Others like music, music producing and political talk.
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Learn every paradigm of the media, not just one. But start with radio so you learn how to communicate ideas. Every rung on the ladder gets you closer to your goal. You cannot skip a rung or go around it, but you learn from every step to make yourself the best you can possibly be. You will make every mistake you can possibly make, but in the end you'll be where you need to be.