10 Questions with ... Peter Ogburn
April 30, 2013
1. First off, what drew you to radio? What was it that got you interested in doing radio in the first place?
I was baptized in talk radio at a young age. We were a Rush Limbaugh household. We listened to his show, read his books, watched his (short-lived) TV show. I read his books in school. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Atom Taler and Richard Todd, the morning guys on 96 Wave in Charleston. They were funny, smart, and not afraid to fight a little bit with each other on air. Iâ€™d wake up early and listen right up until the last moment I had to leave to catch the bus. I actually had a chance to work with Richard at the (now-defunct) 730 WSC in Charleston. Sweetest guy ever. Learned a lot from him.
2. You've worked on both sides of the political aisle in talk radio, although your present situation is more aligned to your personal outlook. How hard is it to put personal opinions aside when working with people with whom you disagree, and what benefits -- or drawbacks -- are there in working with hosts with whom you tend to agree?
Itâ€™s not that hard. Having worked in talk radio for years, I see almost everything in black and white. Youâ€™re either a pain in the ass or youâ€™re not. And I donâ€™t trust anyone who I canâ€™t have a drink with.
3. As a veteran producer, what do you see your primary role is for the show? What makes a good producer?
Keep it between the ditches. See problems brewing before they smack you in the face. Plan as much as you can, but leave room for something spontaneous to happen.
A good producer knows what his host is thinking before he has to say anything. That goes for topic selection, guest ideas and even where to get a good reservation at the last minute. You should try to know a little bit about a lot of topics.
4. You're also an accomplished writer, on politics and general interest stuff at FishbowlDC and on food for various outlets. So you produce, fill in as a host, write... what do you see yourself doing, primarily, in ten years? What's the ideal career evolution (assuming that the media hasn't so thoroughly changed that it's unrecognizable in a few years)?
In 10 years, I actually do think radio will be unrecognizable. On-demand content is becoming easier to access and better in quality. I think that people who have made a living in radio for years are going to have to learn to tweak their set of skills to adapt to this new world of content or get left in the dust. Personally, I like to keep my hands in as many media projects as I can, so who knows where Iâ€™ll be in 10 years.
5. Who have been your mentors, inspirations, and/or influences in the business?
I was extremely lucky to work with some of the smartest, savviest radio programmers in the industry in my first couple of radio jobs. My first PD was Nate Lundy and taught me that good things happened to people who worked their ass off. After that, I worked with Randall Bloomquist, who remains one of the smartest people I know. It should say something that I followed both of those gentlemen to multiple markets. Itâ€™s also hard to compete with the work ethic of Bill Press. After he finishes his morning show, he still manages to fit in about 3 more days of work before the sun goes back down. Itâ€™s incredible to see it in action.
6. Of what are you most proud?
When I started on The Bill Press Show, we were strictly on satellite radio. Since then, we expanded to national syndication, web-streaming, then streaming video, then to cable news on Current TV. It was a steady growth and itâ€™s been a genuine pleasure to watch the show grow into what it is today.
7. Who and/or what makes you laugh? And by that, I also mean: What appeals to you about the podcast "Walking the Room"?
The funniest, most original form of broadcasting these days comes from podcasts. There are no boundaries, no rules and no way to do it wrong. You just put your product out there and people find it. I jump around and sample different shows, but the one constant that I listen to every Monday morning is â€œWalking the Roomâ€ with Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt. They struggle with kids, career choices and family, then share their struggles, mostly using prison-jargon. Itâ€™s the â€œrealestâ€ form of entertainment out there; It sums up perfectly where a lot of radio got off track. At some point, a lot of talk radio shows forgot that you should be entertaining. A lot of hosts act like sharing your vulnerabilities make you look bad. The vulnerability of Dave and Greg is what makes them so likable.
8. Okay, music and food snob, pick one of each: What should everyone be listening to right now, music-wise, and what food is the most underrated? (Yes, that's a way of sneaking two questions into one. Sue me.)
MUSIC - This is the toughest question Iâ€™ll answer all week. So, since youâ€™re cheating, Iâ€™m going to cheat and Iâ€™ll just put my iPod on shuffle and give you the first three songs that come up.
*Pavement: Summer Babe. Pavement is probably my favorite band ever, so this is perfect. You donâ€™t HAVE to like Pavement, but if you donâ€™t, youâ€™re going to hell.
*My Morning Jacket: Circuital. Really strong band. Too rock to be country. Too country to be rock.
*Tom Waits and Keith Richards: Shenandoah. This is a song from an album based on pirate ballads. Itâ€™s as weird as it sounds and better than you think.
FOOD - My wife is British, so obviously I do all the cooking in the house. Not a knock on her, but a boiled beef roast can only be so appetizing. I was born and raised in the South, so I am particularly fond of Southern technique and ingredients. Not just the fried stuff, either. Some of the most beautiful produce in the country comes from the South.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
â€¦spending about an hour on Buzzfeed.
Sending inappropriate texts to Corey Stewart (News assignment editor for WRIC-TV in Richmond, VA.)
Quality time with my goldendoodle, Wee-Bey.
10. What's the best advice you ever got? The worst? (And what advice would you give someone starting out in the business right now?)
BEST - â€œTalk less, say more.â€ Randall Bloomquist used to say this so often, I was convinced I had it tattooed on my forehead. Itâ€™s simple and translates to everything. Not just radio. Any time I start to write a piece, go on air or have a conversation with my parole officer, those words are right there.
WORST - â€œWhy would you want to leave your hometown? Itâ€™s so comfortable here.â€ I hate being comfortable. I do my best work when things are uncomfortable, barely controlled chaos.
MY ADVICE - Learn how to do everything, then work your ass off at getting better at those things. Know how to book guests, run a board, produce commercials, write copy, pick topics. No boss ever complained about an employee who worked â€œtoo hard.â€