10 Questions with ... Justin McDonald
August 9, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1993-95: KVTI (I-91 FM) Tacoma, WA; 1995-99, 2001-02: KJNO-AM/KTKU-FM Juneau, AK; 1999-2000: KITI-FM (Live 95) Centralia/Chehalis, WA; 2000-01: KRXY-FM 94.5 Olympia, WA; 2002-2010: KBYR-AM Anchorage, AK; 2006-2010: KMBQ-FMÂ (Q99.7) Wasilla, AK, and many others!
1. Since we last spoke, you built your former station from the ground up, then, last year, you left to join your new company, where you're building another talk station from the ground up. Â Why did you make the move? Â Is there any part of you that feels strange for competing with a station you created?Â
I made the move based on several factors. My former company was in receivership at the time, the owner had been ousted, I had ethical questions with the upper management that took over, I put a group together to buy KBYR after being asked to, then I got the run-around, so I then pulled out altogether. I was looking to take the next step, I was looking for equity, and I got it with AIM.Â Part of me does feel a bit strange. But I look at this way: I'm a professional and just like a pro QB. I'm either going to be on your team, or on the other team. Either way, I'm paid to get touchdowns!Â
2. You've been in Anchorage for almost a decade (and Juneau before that); Are there things about the Alaskan radio market that are different from any other? Â What is the talk radio audience like there; what are they looking for in talk radio?
Alaskans care about the same things as everyone else. This country is a mess! I think the big difference now is the information highway. 10-15 years ago, Alaska was always way behind on everything from news, music, movies, etc. But now, we are on the same level as the lower 48.Â I think what talk radio listeners in Alaska want is genuine honesty; They want to be entertained and informed, as well as being able to trust the host. I think that talk listeners in general want the same thing. But in a state where Democrats want oil drilling and Republicans want to legalize pot, I cannot predict the independent thinking that goes on here!
3. Along with signing on KOAN serving as VP/Programming of the cluster, you do mornings at the AC station, Lite 105.7. Â Do you think of yourself as more management or talent? Â If you had to give up one in the future, which would it be?
I never really though of it, really. I have been on the air since I was 15 years old! I did hundreds of air-shifts before I even graduated from high school. I'm going to be the old-man owner who comes in on Sunday nights just do a shift for shits & giggles! Â Wheeeew... I dodged that question.
4. The trend across the country has Talk and Sports stations moving to FM. Â You have KOAN on a translator in the market; what's your experience so far having talk on FM? Â Do you see a different audience for the station by virtue of being an FM station?Â
The experience so far has been fantastic. Regular talk listeners tell me how great it sounds, how clear it is, etc. I see a slight difference so far. News is really popular and I think so far we have managed to catch the ear of the normal FM NPR listener in Anchorage. Plus, with our diverse programming line-up, we give both regular talk and the NPR style listener a choice.
5. About what are you most passionate these days?
Radio-wise -- the never ending ways to interact with listeners on a personal basis everyday. I see all social networking as a way to make radio even stronger. The relationships with listeners today is different; We know that, and I embrace it!Â
Personal - My family, cooking, and ice hockey.
6. What are the best and worst things about living and working in Anchorage? Â What would most surprise people from outside the market about Anchorage?
Best: the outdoor lifestyle, the fishing, and the hunting. I haven't got to do the latter in years. it's an outdoor lover's paradise! We constantly play all summer.Â The worst thing about living here is that no matter where you fly, it takes twice to three times the time to get there!Â One of the surprisingÂ things is the fantastic selection of restaurants.
7. Having programmed and/or hosted on music and talk stations side-by-side, are there any programming philosophies that are common to both? Â What strategies or philosophies are the same no matter if it's talk or sports or AC or whatever?
Entertain , Inform, and engage!Â We forget we are in show biz sometimes.Â
8. If you hadn't gone into radio, what do you think you'd have become?
I would have been a chef!
9. It's been a while, so time to ask it again: Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ____________.
...the damm Internet!.
10. And again, what's the best advice you've ever gotten? Â The worst?
Best: Check the ego at the door, it's okay to let you guard down a bit and trust the people you work with.
Worst: Just have one beer, which turned into multiple beers.