10 Questions with ... Eric Scott
July 5, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WWWKB 1520AM, Buffalo; WGR 550AM, Buffalo; WCTC, New Brunswick; NBC/Mutual Radio NYC; WCBS 880AM; New Jersey 101.5/Millennium Radio Group
1. What led you to go into journalism, and into radio? Why did you pick this as your career?
I never intended to make it a career. It started as a summer job when I was 14 at a little 3000 watt daytimer in Springville, NY. I would walk to the studio after school and read the afternoon news. It was better than shoveling dung out of a barn, although the pay wasn't as good.
2. While you've been at New Jersey 101.5 and Millennium, you've covered, and broken, a lot of huge stories, individually and as a team. What story stands out as the most memorable for you?
It's probably cliché to say the 911 attacks, but that day (and the days that followed) will always be the most memorable. I remember at one point walking into the newsroom and seeing everyone watching the TV. I walked over and shut it off and told them to stop paying attention to what New York was doing. We had millions in New Jersey who needed us to tell them the story from our side of the river.
3. While the industry has generally cut back on local news or outsourced it, your news department has continued to be strong and aggressive. To what do you attribute the Millenium/101.5 news organization's ability to prosper while other organizations haven't?
It's a complete mindset and commitment to producing unique and proprietary content. We are no longer just a radio station. We are a multi-media company. The way to continue to drive users to our content across multiple platforms is to make sure you have content they want. I'm proud to say that we also have some truly great journalists working for us who know how to generate content that is compelling and informative.
4. Who would you say have been your greatest influences or inspirations in the business?
That's a tough question. I'd have to thank John Zach for giving a 16 year old kid a shot to be heard on the mighty KB Radio in Buffalo. Charlie Banta has been fantastic to work for. He's the only owner I've ever met who REALLY understands the value of live and local radio and based his entire business plan on it. Bill Saurer has taught me the value of working hard, but still taking time to play. And I've been fortunate to share the studio for the better part of two decades with a true industry legend: Jim Gearhart
5. What's been the biggest change in your job since you started at 101.5?
The transition into a multi-media company. There was a time when the internet was an annoyance. Something you had to do, but didn't really understand why. But with pocket computers and smart phones and all the new technologies still to come, we now have a vehicle to take our product to our users anywhere at anytime. It's an amazing time to be a broadcaster.
6. Of all the politicians and newsmakers you've encountered over the years, who's been the most impressive? And, if you can, who was the least impressive?
Now I'm telling tales out of school! I once got to meet and spend some time with Margaret Thatcher at the United Nations and she was amazing to talk to. NJ Governor Chris Christie is an interesting guy and a tough interview. His recall of facts and data to support his arguments is very impressive. Without naming names, there is a politician in NJ who is in a leadership position as part of a deal with a previous administration. The lights are on, nobody's home.
7. Of what are you most proud?
I'm proud that we have been able to prove that not only does live and local work, but that it can be a vital part of your revenue stream. Everywhere we have added more news and local content, regardless of format, we have seen a corrosponding increase in ratings and revenue. Due to that cause and effect, my staff and I have been able to bring the residents of New Jersey a vital and pro-active news staff of real journalists. It's that hard work that helps keep the government honest, keep their hands out of our pockets, and makes a difference for the nine million people living in this state.
8. You've worked alongside Jim Gearhart for many years. As someone who's been part of the show for most of its run in mornings at 101.5, describe what Jim's meant to the station and the state. What's made him last so long and be so consistently successful?
I don't know where to begin with Jim. I'm so honored to have been a part of his show for so long. He is truly a legend. He was doing things in New York and Philly in the 70's that were ahead of his time, and paved the way for the Howard Stern Generation. Jim has been the one constant at NJ 101.5. He's our foundation. A generation has grown up with him. And he really cares about this state. It shows in everything he talks about. But Jim is also the most humble morning man I've ever worked with. He allows everyone around him to perform at their best, and doesn't get in their way. I think that's why we have all worked so well together for so long. We truly are a team.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
My I-Phone and Millennium station apps!
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Best: Our CEO, Bill Saurer, is one of the hardest working guys I've ever met, but he is also the first person to truly make me understand the value of walking away and taking some time off to unplug and recharge. I now make my staff take a break when I can see things are getting to them. I know we all work better when we take that time.
Worst: RTNDA Convention in LA, 1994. I had just finished being part of a panel discussion on keeping news relevant. I talked about the need to know your audience and build a strong relationship with your sales manager to maximize the value of your department and stay relevant. I was practically booed off the stage and told my radical views of running a news department would never bring success. I wonder how many of the news directors in the audience that day are pumping gas now.