10 Questions with ... Don Clark
June 25, 2007
NAME:Don ClarkTITLE:PDMARKET:ChicagoCOMPANY:Radio One IndianaBORN:Mayville, WisconsinRAISED:Mayville, Wisconsin (Not very big town, huh Don?)
Please outline your radio career so far:
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Board-op, van driver and collection agent dodger for WLKE in Waupun, WI. My influences came to me in the late 60's when I grew up listening to WOKY in Milwaukee and WLS. The great Robert L was my hero and the guys at OKY. Bob Berry, Jack Lee, and David Haines were my person favorites. I am a very lucky person. I am doing what I always wanted to do for a living. I remember going to a class reunion and friends telling me, "We always knew you would be doing this. It's all you talked about".
2) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
If I wasn't doing this, I would be a chef. I'm still working on the perfect pasta sauce. I love cooking. Just like an air shift, even if the entire meal isn't the best, something good can come out of it.
3) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
All of our stations get into Chicago, but we are concentrating everything we do on our backyard of Northwest Indiana. This gives us the opportunity to give our listeners what Chicago stations can't, or won't. It also lets us have more fun too! A radio station that wants to compete against a giant has to have the balls to do what the big guys can't or won't do. And we do that, with the music, promotions, and on-air content. We are Northwest Indiana, and we are very sensitive to the needs and wants of this region's listeners. We know what the listeners want because we ask them. Constantly. The staff understands customer service and we super serve our listeners. More stations need to do this.
4) What impact will the firing of Talk show Host Imus have on radio and the media in general?
It means there will be more money for the salary cap at CBS! Hey, I love Imus. I hope he gets back on soon. What he said was definitely out of line, wrong on several different levels and the sh*t hit the WFAN.
That being said, I loved listening to Imus. I loved the days leading up to and after his speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner. Great Stuff! I always described Imus as a baseball pitcher. He'll never throw up a softball. He has a rocket of an arm for fastballs and change ups. Just watch out for that curve ball. It will get you or him in trouble. It also means that the usual cast of nitwit copycats will try to do the same kind of material, and then wonder why they were fired. It's radio's way of thinning out the herd. It makes all of us more cautious, and that's a good thing.
5) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
"Live and Local" seems to be one of the latest catch phrases because of satellite and Internet radio. There was a great letter that I read from a student in Massachusetts regarding this very subject. Her main complaint with radio today was that so many stations were just concentrating on music on not on what the listeners really wanted, which was local information. And that was from a younger demo. I personally feel that we are not competing with satellite or Internet. We are competing with our listener's time and attention and if we aren't giving them compelling content, then we are losing.
6) Just about every market has a station flipping to "Jack," "Bob," "Max," or "Movin' Rhythmic Hot AC. What are your thoughts on these new formats? Will they go the distance?
It depends on who is working the format. I'm sure that somewhere there is a consultant that said, "Hot AC wouldn't fly." I've always said that the genius is not the person that put the format together. The genius is the one who figures out how to market it, image it, make money with it, and keep improving it! New formats will make it as long as the programmer is open to new ideas to make it better. I love seeing new formats. It's radio's way of re-inventing itself.
7) What is your favorite radio station outside of the market and why?
I love WKLH in Milwaukee. Whenever I get to Milwaukee it's on. A lot of stations that do, or try Classic Rock have tried different formulas and format tweaks, but KLH has always stayed true. Plus, I get to hear some of the jocks from the glory days of FM radio in Milwaukee. Gotta love Downstairs Dan!!!
8) Besides your own, what is your favorite radio format?
Oldies! I love everything about the music, the listeners, and the fun you can have with it. I know that a big problem with some Oldies stations is that they don't pay enough attention to their listeners and what they want on their station. I believe that Oldies listeners are more than P1's. They have ownership of their station. Just listen to them when something is changed.
Oh boy!!! Jimmy Buffet once wrote, "Don't try to describe the ocean if you've never seen it" and he's right. There are some people programming Oldies that just don't understand the lifestyle, the music, and the listeners. You take the fun out of it, and you'll lose the ratings and the revenue and the listeners.
9) Describe the relationship you have with your fellow co-workers? How do you motivate your staff to do better? How do they motivate you?
I am very fortunate because the crew here at Radio One Indiana "gets it!" That is the highest compliment that you can give an air staff in today's radio environment. I use our training sessions to introduce different speakers and material from outside the radio realm to make the staff draw their own comparisons to what we are accomplishing to meet our goals. It gives them a different perspective, and it works. They motivate me when I listen to them after an aircheck session or training, and I hear the difference in their performance.
10) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Rent everything and always keep at least a thousand dollars in the bank, along with a month's worth of non-perishable food in the pantry. And be honest about everything.
1) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff?
Chris Carr from K102 in Minneapolis. Chris and I have been best friends since we met in Massachusetts. We are like brothers. But we are both from Wisconsin, and dad got around, so we could be brothers! Chris is a true talent and one of the greatest people on the planet.
2) What are your three favorite artists or songs of this year?
1) "Makes Me Wonder" by Maroon Five (I'll never get sick of that song), 2) Candyman by Christina Aguilera (great video), and 3) "Woman" from Band of Thieves. You guys are onto something! Keep rockin'!
3) Favorite artist you have met?
I have had a chance to meet so many artists, but the one that always stands out was Danny Hutton from Three Dog Night. We just hung out on the side of the stage and talked about everything but the business. It was fantastic!
4) Who would be your dream guest on the show?
Marconi. It would be great to have him see what has happened to his little idea. But, you never know. He would probably just look at me and say, "Shut up and play the hits!"