10 Questions with ... Alan Stock
January 31, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Before my work in media I worked in the field of psychotherapy. I spent several years producing and hosting television shows for the Viacom Cable system in the San Francisco Bay Area followed by a year in commercial talk TV. My first radio jobs were at a small 1,000-watt station in Petaluma, KTOB, where I did evenings, middays, afternoon drive, and morning drive.
My first real talk radio gig was at KSRO, Santa Rosa, CA where I did mornings for nearly 4 years. I went on to do middays at KOGO in San Diego, morning drive at KSTE Sacramento and fill-in and evenings at KSFO in San Francisco. For the next 12 years I worked at KXNT in Las Vegas in both morning drive and afternoon drive. In July of last year I began doing late mornings at KDWN in Las Vegas. I'm also currently hosting a daily television interview show for VegasTV, Cable Channel 14 in Las Vegas.
1. It's been a while since we last talked here, and you've changed stations since then. How did the move to KDWN come about, and what's the new station like to work for?
My old CBS station let me know that I was no long a part of their culture and that they wanted "to change directions." They claimed they wanted less politics on the air and I suspect they wanted to find someone who would take less money for afternoon drive. The General Manager whom I worked with for nearly 10 years, Tom Humm, immediately picked me up to do late mornings at the heritage station, Newstalk 720, KDWN. At CBS I had to let them know who I had booked as a guest and what topics I was going to address. At KDWN, I was told that I could talk about whatever I wanted to talk about and book any guests I wanted to book. Program Director John Shaffer said to me, "You've been involved in media for over 25 years, you're the professional, go for it!" Working at KDWN has been the most freedom to be who I am on the air in over a decade. The environment at my old station was as toxic as you could imagine. People constantly feared for their job security and it became less and less pleasant. Beasley's KDWN is probably the overall most friendly and enthusiastic station I've ever worked for... as well as the most supportive.
2. In the years since we last talked, the PPM has been introduced. Has it affected what you do as a host? Have you had to make any adjustments, or is it business as usual?
PPM is not friendly to talk radio... everyone in talk radio knows that. Having said that, you have to constantly tease what's coming up next, what's coming up in an hour and what's coming up tomorrow. Still, numbers at most talk stations are not what the used to be. Therefore, the sales staff has to concentrate on selling the loyal audience and the effectiveness talk radio offers to advertisers. I had one potential advertiser ask the sales director why they should advertise on my show if, according to PPM, the audience is not all that great. The DOS offered to have me interview their representative free of charge to see whether or not it had an effect. I conducted a short interview with the two owners of the company and at the end of the interview they said that if customers mentioned Alan Stock they would get an additional 15%. That was on a Thursday and at the very end of the interview. I was going to mention it on Friday and forgot. All weekend long I kicked myself for not mentioning it on Friday and felt I had missed an opportunity. On Monday morning I reminded my audience about the interview the prior Thursday and mentioned the extra 15% for mentioning my name. I mentioned this twice for about 15 seconds each. On Tuesday morning the Director of Sales' assistant came into the studio during my first break and told me to not mention the client or the extra 15% again. It appeared that my two mentions on Monday had precipitated a goodly number of people to go to the store seeking the extra 15%. My DOS got an email saying that we proved our point and that they would start advertising the following week. But, please, they begged, don't mention the 15% again. These folks have been loyal advertisers ever since. PPM ratings do not compare to actual sales results... period. I'm sure others have experienced the same thing.
3. You've launched a new TV show -- how did that come to fruition, and what will you be doing on the TV show? Is it different from, an extension of, or a compliment to the radio show?
The local station expressed interest in having a daily interview program. Some folks who work with me acted as intermediaries made it all happen. It is a daily interview show highlighting the movers and shakers - political, social, entertainment - of the Las Vegas and southern Nevada communities. It is a recorded show that plays twice per day... 1 pm and 10 pm. I have had the television station tape interviews I've conducted during my KDWN radio show and occasionally have used those as part of my television program. My interest in doing the TV show was to help promote my radio show which in turn will help promote my TV show. If things go well, it will be a win-win all the way around.
4. You're now in an election year. How much do you anticipate you'll be talking about the national election as opposed to local issues? How do you gauge whether your listeners are more into the national issues or local issues at any given time?
While I will discuss the national election and try to get the national figures on my radio show, I feel that my local radio show gives listeners an opportunity to hear about the local issues and candidates and to speak to those candidates and those representing both sides of the local issues. Because there are more local candidates and issues than national candidates, I suppose more time will be spent on local talk by default.
5. Are you using social media and the web in conjunction with your show? How important are Twitter and Facebook to what you do on the air, or how you prep for the show?
I am using the social media more than ever before. I frequently post blogs on my personal website (AlanStock.com) as well as my KDWN.com website. I also use Twitter and Facebook to promote the two websites. Right now my personal website has constant news headline updates and we plan to add more features to make it a must for those who want to find out what's happening right now in Las Vegas. Talk radio and social media have become so intertwined that it is almost impossible to ignore the connectedness.
6. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the radio industry, long-term? What, if any, changes do you expect radio to go through in the next decade?
When television came along, there were some folks who said that spelled the death knell for radio. When FM came along, there were those who said that spelled the death knell for AM. Along came the internet and there were those who said radio and TV as we know it were through. Things do change and with change comes the necessity to adapt... or perish. The radio industry (and for that matter the television industry) have had to adapt out of necessity. Radio will be around for some time to come as it is the place where people can go to get instant local information (and/or entertainment) at almost any time and from almost any location. Radio will have to become even more instantaneous as local TV and newspaper websites post stories that have just happened or even as they are happening. By the way, that goes for the use of websites by radio stations, as well. Radio websites will have to have someone update their websites on a constant basis to compete with the TV and newspaper uses of their websites. Competition will foster all to do more and to do it more often. If the industry is to succeed, there is no option.
7. Las Vegas has been about as hard hit as any city in America by the economic downturn. Have you seen that have an effect on the callers you get on the show? Are callers more pessimistic or angry as a result of the job losses and foreclosures, or do you sense that they've weathered the storm now?
People in Las Vegas have tried to weather the storm. However, you are correct. We are the foreclosure capital of America. We're also the town that lost hundreds of millions of dollars in convention business when President Obama mentioned Las Vegas as a place to not spend money. While he has made some more friendly statements since then, he never apologized or backtracked from his original statement and our Senator Harry Reid was (and remains) silent about the impact the president's comments had on our economy. Our congressional representatives (both Democrat and Republican) and our mayor at the time all condemned the president but Harry Reid was silent... we call him Silent Harry. Sure people are angry and most callers want the economic climate to turn friendlier to business so people can be re-employed. Some folks believe that government employing people or bailing out various industries will help in the short run, but no one I've talked to believes that government efforts are a long term solution. Historically speaking, every time the government tries to manipulate the economy, things get worse. When government allows events to run their natural course, the improvement is more rapid and more solid. Some of my callers are more pessimistic and angry and want improvement now. Others are more optimistic that the economy will improve. Understandably the more optimistic callers are probably the ones who are employed while the out-of-work or underemployed callers are much more bitter.
8. At this stage in your career and life, of what are you most proud?
While I am proud of the fact that I've been able to sustain my career for over 25 years in an industry that does not speak to longevity, there are other more important issues I recognize at this point in my life. My family is first and foremost... my wife, my children and my grandchildren. I could walk away from radio and TV today but could never walk away from my family. I've also been studying with my Orthodox rabbi, Yitz Wyne of Young Israel Aish of Las Vegas, for about 5 years and this has had a profound effect on my life and how I view the world around me. I believe gratitude and joy are two of the most important ingredients in life if you are going to see life in a fulfilling manner. I don't believe in preaching to others but just believe that living life as I think it should be lived is what comes across when one interacts with others.
9. You may have answered this before, but it's been years and years, so... Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ___________.
...my daily prayers and telling my wife of nearly 44 years how much I love her.
10. What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
Don't take anything for granted and always appreciate the efforts of those around you. We're here for a very short time and it certainly behooves us to take advantage of the joy and not dwell on the crap.