10 Questions with ... Fred Holland
June 7, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Air Talent: WSGA/Savannah, AFRTS/Okinawa, WTOC/Savannah, KNOW/Austin. (70's)
PD: WAAY-Huntsville, WAHR-Huntsville, KAAY-Little Rock, WAPI-Birmingham. (80's)
Sales: WFIX, WKQD, WRSA-Huntsville. GM/Morning Host-WTKI. Sales/Morning Co-Host with Peter Thiele (Fred & Peter in the Morning) WVNN.
Back to WTKI-Owner/GM/Morning Host
1. How did you get your start in radio? Why radio?
I was an Air Force Brat. When we lived in Canada my dad played on the embassy softball team, where I met CFRA sportcaster Ernie Calcutt. He also turned out to be our neighbor. The more I listened to him and spoke with him, the deeper I got hooked. By the time we moved to Montana, I was listening to everything I could find on the radio and talking my dad into talking me to local radio stations for tours. I was not yet old enough to work at one. When we moved to Savannah I began hanging around the market's big Top 40 of its time, WSGA. Not long after, I was working there. Having lived in a lot of different places, I was always the new kid. These radio guys were like me. They'd been in a lot of places, too. I had found a place to fit in.
2. About what are you most passionate these days?
Local Radio's natural relationship with small business. Just like most of the people we call on, we're a mom and pop trying set ourselves apart from the big guys. As we continue to see consolidation and far-away decision making, those big groups run the risk of losing that vital local connection. We're trying to go the other way.
3. You've been on the air in Huntsville, other than a two-and-a-half year break, since 1996. To what do you owe your longevity in the market?
The same person you meet is the same person you hear on the radio. I'm not an act. I'm a regular guy reflecting my observations of real life. I really hate it when a host manufactures controversy. My old partner, Peter Thiele, would always remind me about how you can't fake passion for something you don't really care about. I steer clear of the "Topic of the Week" if I can't relate it to real life. This is actually my third time in this building. It was my work on WTKI ('92-'96) as a morning host (I also managed it for someone else) that brought me to the attention of WVNN and that incredible opportunity to be paired with Peter for all those years. That was great fun. So, I guess I've come full circle.
4. You went from being a host and sales rep to being the boss as well when you took over at WTKI-WEKI. What have been the best and worst aspects of being not only the talent but the guy responsible for the whole operation?
I only thought I understood the value of time management. The morning show is my escape and prepares me for the day of wearing all those other hats. We are a very small operation. Scotty Stewart is my producer. His job is to book relevant guests and tell me honestly when I suck. Brian Weems does a masterful job of making us sound tight by managing the imaging and production. I don't think what we have put together would be possible without them. With the exception of some creative sales relationships, the rest falls on me. We will add more people as we can afford them. Over the years, I have assembled a group of valued advisors. You can't be afraid to ask for help.
5. You're obviously bullish about local radio, acquiring AM stations and FM translators. What makes you feel good about the future of radio in a changing media landscape?
There's a reason satellite radio only attracts the audience it does. I really believe local, relevant product wins. In the aftermath of our tornado outbreak, local radio was a lifeline for getting information out to people with no power. Almost everyone in North Alabama was affected. Cell phones were not dependable, and social media was spotty, but Radio was there.
In our business plan, we fashioned a format that focuses on local guests, events, and opinion with a heavy slant toward business and entrepreneurs. Those people make up a healthy chunk of Talk listeners. We leave the red-meat issues to the other talk stations and focus instead on being a solution oriented source for information and opinion. We call our product "Talk Radio for Real Life" and try very hard to be true to that by bringing everything back to how it relates to the regular guy. We also make it a point to celebrate success and achievement wherever we find it. Most of our syndicated shows reflect that as well. We have also attempted to embrace Social Media, recognizing that to succeed, our footprint must go beyond what we have on our signals. We are still learning. I think these tools can help make local radio stronger.
6. Who are your mentors, influences, and heroes?
Savannah broadcasters Jerry Rogers, Les Allen, and Danny Kramer (now Salt Lake City), who fueled my early passion for this business.
WNYM/New York's Peter Thiele, who still advises me and helped me understand the value of making real life experiences into great show material.
Bill West (Triad Broadcasting Market Manager -- Biloxi, MS) who kept calling and got me to come to WVNN.
Bill and Mary Dunnavant (former owners of Athens Broadcasting-WVNN), who blessed me with more tools for success than they will ever know.
7. If you hadn't gone into radio, what do you think you'd have been doing today? What would you like to be doing if radio wasn't in the picture?
Radio sales gave me the opportunity to evolve into a business junkie. I really like finding out what makes a business tick. My wife says I should have been an engineer. I also have a passion for history. Try writing that job description.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Being a father and husband. My wife Angela is the other member of our company. She's my best friend. Our daughter has grown into an incredible young woman. They both inspire me and make me want to be a better human being.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ____________.
...the help of others.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Best: Listen-You just might learn something. It took me a long time to get that one.
Worst: This could make you rich!