10 Questions with ... Maverick
February 21, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started out in the early 80's as Kidd Kelly, interning at K-West 106 (now Power 106) in Los Angeles and doing over nights at 93.5 KFOX (now KDAY) in Redondo Beach, while attending Torrance High School. In fact, I was LA's youngest DJ at the time.
From there I moved all over the place, working at some great radio stations like Power 92 and Y95 in Phoenix, KROY and KWOD in Sacramento, KWIN in Stockton, KDON and CD93 in Monterey, CBS/Denver. A few years ago, I was programming LIVE 105.5 in Ventura competing against Cumulus. When I left LIVE 105.5, Cumulus hired me and moved me out here to Eugene.
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
I grew up in Los Angeles listening to the greatest DJ's in the world on the greatest radio stations in the world like 93 KHJ and TenQ.
On my 6th birthday, my parents bought me a plastic record player. As my friends started to sing, Happy Birthday, I walked out of the kitchen with the turntable and headed into my bedroom, plugged in my birthday gift, and talked up a song as if I was the Real Don Steele!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
There are truly too many to name. But with every break I do on the air, with every idea I work on as a PD, I always ask, 'how would ______ do this?' Even those who have passed away. Heck, to me Jack Benny was one of the greatest in radio.
3) How are you using social media to market your radio station?
We'll have exclusive contests on Facebook, Tweet upcoming tunes, and take listeners behind the scenes of the radio station, etc... When I did my show from Disneyland, people were able to not just listening to the broadcast, but could also check out photos and videos in real time.
On the weekends I hit the streets with the "Star 102.3 Street Patrol" to do some research and giveaways. To find out all of my different locations, listeners follow us on Twitter, where we can tag ourselves on the GPS map. We also have our "Twitter Ticket Tuesdays!"
4) What are some of the challenges you face as a programmer in today's radio environment?
Having no budget hurts. This means a lack of promotions, on air personalities, etc... Like anything else, radio is about team work. Imagine that due to budget cuts a baseball team would lose their outfielders, third base player, and a pitcher. Your second base guy now has to pitch, cover second base, and then if needed, run to third or let it go.
Then someone comes up with the idea of getting one of those automated pitching machines. The outfield is now covered by guys playing for multiple teams. Imagine if the batter hits a ball out of the park. Because there's no money, they have to get the baseball back to reuse it. Sure, you're going to win a few games (someone has to), but the game just isn't the same. So you have to find a way to creatively reinvent the basics.
5) Is Arbitron's Personal People Meter (PPM) currently available in your market, or in a neighboring market? What are your thoughts on this new ratings technology?
We're not a PPM market, but bring it on! Look, we can discuss the pros and cons until we're blue in the face and how we can program differently. But what is important first and foremost is simply putting together a great sounding radio station that people want to listen to. Nothing there has changed.
6) What do you like best about working in this format?
Hot AC is the new Top 40 for adults! We're grown up, but we still have active lifestyles. This is no longer the format that plays "The 80's, 90's and John Mayer." Adult females want to hear the new stuff from Usher, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, and Bruno Mars, and they still turn it up. So programming Hot AC is as a much fun and exciting as programming a Top 40 station was 10 to 20 years ago!
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift?
Most of my show prep is about lifestyle. (Kind of like Seinfeld used to be). So I study more of my listener's lifestyle. But I'll do bits about what's happening in the news. I watch a lot of late night TV like Conan and Red Eye to hear what others are saying and joking about.
8) Are you seeing more Rhythmic and Top 40 records take hold with today's Hot AC listeners?
Years ago, radio-people used to call me crazy, an idiot, a clueless PD who had no idea what the hell he was doing, because I wasn't playing your typical Hot AC artists. You should have heard the comments when I was the first Hot AC PD to ever play this new artist no one heard of by the name of Lady GaGa.
But my research was showing that the active Hot AC listeners LOVED her. And they didn't want to hear the same ol' stuff and tired out Oldies that Hot AC radio was dishing out. They wanted to hear the fresh pop hits of Rihanna, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, etc... Adult females were listening to the same stuff their daughters/kids where listening to.
And it paid off. We had the highest ratings the station had ever seen, beating out the long time dominate Hot AC in the market. So hearing Britney Spears and Taio Cruz mixed in with Sick Puppies and Train doesn't surprise me at all. Hot AC listeners are not as narrow-minded as we in radio have made them out to be.
9) What other stations and markets do you like to monitor?
Thanks to my iPhone apps, I'm listening to a whole lot more radio than ever before. I listen to local personalities in their markets. I like to listen to Seattle, Portland, San Diego, LA, Phoenix, Denver, and others. I still listen to KIIS-FM, KROQ and K-Earth 101 in LA. Heck, I was listening to KQST/Flagstaff, Arizona last week.
10) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
You know, back in the day, they said, "TV will kill radio." In the 80's, they said "Video would kill the radio star." Today they are saying it's going to be XM/Sirius, iPods, Pandora, blah blah blah. You know what's going to kill radio? We in radio. If we get lazy, and we don't give our listeners what they want to hear...we're dead.
1) Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Anything from Standards to Punk. But what you'll notice most on my iPod are all the playlists. Including music formats I'm working on and testing.
2) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
Probably a writer or a photographer.
3) Most of us have known or even worked for a "colorful" owner/GM/air talent. Care to share a story? (The names can be changed to protect the innocent).
Haha! Oh yes! Look at the call letters I've worked at and you will know. I had an owner/GM who always worked at night, and would often come in during my night show and watch me do my "thang" on the air.
4) What's the closest you ever came to getting arrested for an on-air stunt? Or did you actually get arrested?
Long story short, I was doing nights at Kiss-FM in Northern Arizona. Although I went on the air and I told the audience it was a prank, listeners in Flagstaff/Prescott called the police saying that I was tied and gagged. The police broke down the door of the radio station and found that it was all a recording of me pretending to be gagged.
5) Favorite artist you have met?
My favorites are the one I've become friends with. Smash Mouth is a great example. Mat Kearney (a Eugene boy) is another. I had tobyMac on my show recently, and we were like two buddies just talking with each other. Colbie Caillat would actually listen to my show when I was at LIVE 105.5 in Ventura, and call up to say hi or stop by the radio station. She truly is a sweetheart.