10 Questions with ... Lesley Lotto
February 18, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
KFWB/Los Angeles, Metro Traffic, KFI/Los Angeles and Clear Channel News (for KGET/Bakersfield), KKNS/Missoula, founded Remote News Service.
1. First, what led you to a career in radio? Why radio?
I knew at age 12 that I had to be a writer; I wrote tons of short stories and poems all the time. Then in High School, I was introduced to newspaper work, loved it and continued that in college. But there was something missing so I explored further and took a broadcast news class for fun and fell in love. I've been in love ever since.
2. You started to do news remotely for networks and stations from Missoula a few years back. What was the genesis for that idea? How did the Remote News Service come about?
After a talk station for which I moved across the country imploded, I started to podcast for fun and made money at itâ€¦ But I remembered someone I worked for saying you oughta email your news around the country to all of our stations. On a ski trip with my husband, the idea further blossomed and the rest as they say, is history.
3. You've adapted to the new radio landscape in a very entrepreneurial way. Did that come naturally to you or is that something you learned along the way?
It was easy starting out because I'm not afraid of cold calling, and I've owned other businesses in the past. But when the recession hit, I had to lower my rates tremendously and get super creative about ways to do business. (I also do publicity for some choice mind/body clients.) I've mostly always worked on my own, owning a talent agency previously, so being an "entrepreneur" has always been enticing and exciting. Of course nothing comes completely natural, we all have to work hard to get where we are. I am constantly learning!
4. Maybe sort of related, but are you optimistic or pessimistic about radio's future? What do you think things will look like in 5 years? 10 years?
Oh, sure, people will always want to listen to radio. I am concerned, however, about advertising dollars for small stations, you know the mom and pops. I live in a small town and hate to admit, I never, ever listen to local radio. I love my Pandora and my iTunes radio, Google Play and iHeart. I'm a technogeek, plus I grew up in Los Angeles and I'm used to hearing that style of radio. I'm not sure how smaller stations can make it in the coming years, but I've also talked to plenty who are super entrepreneurial in their own right, using digital and online platforms to bolster listenership. So I suppose those that stay behind will be left behind. The same goes for on-air talent. You have to be a multi-tasker and really know equipment and software or forget about getting a decent gig.
5. You relocated from L.A., where you lived and worked for years, to Montana to put KKNS on the air. After several years in Missoula, what are the best and worst things about moving there from Los Angeles? What about Missoula would surprise people who have never been there?
The best is my family is super tight. I'm happy we made the move. I still adore Los Angeles and always will, but there's too much stimulation for me there now, I get really nervous on the roads and the pace has me reeling after about 3 days. Montana is outrageously spectacular on the eyes, and the people here are just so darn nice! I have an amazing appreciation for the hardiness of the women, they form close, intimate relationships with each other. These winters can last and last and last and last! The six-month-long winters (not every year!) can get you down.
6. You've worked both sides of the political aisle, programming progressive talk and doing news for conservative networks. Do you think that talk radio in particular will ever move towards less polarized programming -- will the twain meet?
You know, the whole idea of labeling what you do or whose side you're on drives me batty. Journalists are supposed to report news; There should be no slant to it. Sadly it's hard to find news that's not a little bit slanted wherever you look. I just love radio so much that I don't care which side it is! But I will always fight for what I think is the truth, and that's where the blurred lines can get in the way. I think it's very important for those who listen to talk radio to also read NEWS, not opinion. Many people watch or listen to opinion shows and believe that's the gospel. In most cases, it's not.
7. Who are your heroes and influences?
Oh, wow, loaded question!
I'll leave my political heroes out of the discussion. I'm moved by the Dalai Lama; Even though I'm not of the same religion, I'm sort of fascinated by the new Pope. I practice yoga daily and follow the philosophy deeply but I'm also a Jewish person and feel that deeply, too. I love music so there are many bands that move me; Can you introduce me to Brandon Boyd, please?
8. Of what are you most proud?
I'm proud of my kids, of course, two bright and gifted lights of life!
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ________.
Can I have 2?? Yoga and COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE.
10. What was the best advice you ever got?
Go with your gut!
Too much to list! Seriously.