10 Questions with ... Bryan Crabtree
March 11, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Began at WDBL outside of Nashville while in High School, then joined WSIX as an intern, worked as a producer, moved to Alabama to do mornings on WPZM (Country), then WGKX Memphis (Kix 106), then to Cat Country (WNKT) 107.5 and News/Talk WTMA in Charleston. Left radio for a brief period in 2000 and began a real estate career. Returned to radio to host a real estate program for 8 years, then began doing more part-time mainstream talk on WTMA in Charleston (Cumulus) in 2009. Began hosting full time mornings in 2013 on crosstown WQSC.
1. First, how did you get your start in radio? Why radio?
After hosting a local high-school program on the hometown FM in Springfield, TN, I called Doug Baker, the program director of WSIX in Nashville and asked him to meet with me. At the time, that was a long shot. Amazingly, he did. I always loved the energy and production of a great radio station, having grown up listening to WYHY (Jacor) Y-107. WSIX in Nashville was the Country version of that. I was way over my head, but it helped me understand how great radio works and how the top talent perform every day.
2. You're holding down concurrent, overlapping careers in real estate and in radio, and have for years. What prompted your move into real estate, and how do you juggle the two vocations?
When consolidation of radio was occurring, I felt like I would have to move to move up in my career, and I really wanted to stay in Charleston for a while. So, I got a real estate license and for a bit decided to leave radio. It's just that radio didn't leave me. After many years in real estate (while doing radio), I started to analyze my past and where I wanted to go into the future. And, it occurred to me that I had been in radio for nearly 20 years making a really good living by monetizing talk into real estate sales.
Given the challenges radio has faced for the past five years, I see the current state of the industry as an opportunity (for me at least) to focus on my original career passion while helping to monetize and sell radio brand(s). Having a proven track record at the latter, I've been able to help the station sell our programming to advertisers and break down traditional barriers. It's a lot of work to do both careers, but I have great supporting staff at both the station and at my real estate business that helps me stay focused on relationships with clients (of both careers) and content distribution. Each day, I have to remember, "my knowledge must grow," "I have to produce new compelling content," and I have to help the station and/or my real estate business meet at least one new client.
3. You worked in other markets -- Nashville, Memphis -- before moving to Charleston, and now you've been there for over 15 years. What about Charleston prompted you to put down roots there? What's the best thing about living and working in that area?
Charleston became attractive because of its massive growth rate, rising real estate values and waterfront atmosphere. Growing up in Middle TN, it was quite the opposite of hills and trees. Charleston is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and, with the exception of the last two months, some of the best weather, too.
4. What makes you different as a talk host? What perspective or focus will listeners get from you that they won't get, or won't get as well, from elsewhere?
My business story of dealing with thousands of clients and their real "life's issues" moving toward pleasure and away from pain helps me connect with how people think and deal with the challenges of society. My objective is to try to underscore each story or topic with a solution. My view is that if I've only told the problem, and not offered a solution, I've failed. My difference, is that while I"m conservative, I seek to understand the reasons and points of views of both sides of the argument. I do not align with any political party, and I think there is a lot more to talk radio than just politics. Talk radio was politics in the past; In the future, it has to cover what affects the listeners in my market.
5. About what are you most passionate these days?
I'm concerned that our society enables people's bad behavior through divisive rhetoric and failing social programs. We tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. We need to help people with ideas of how to win in business, get a better job, grow their income and save for retirement. The purpose of my show is to empower people to succeed in life. I love taking problems that most people can't solve and finding solutions; that is my passion in business, radio and life.
6. Are you using social media in conjunction with your shows? How do you see social media working for you -- is it a way to engage with listeners, show prep, promotional, all of the above, or none of them?
Social media is the new "listener call in." So many radio hosts and businesses ignore their clients/listeners on social media. My goal is to engage with people who are kind enough to engage with me. I can learn what people are thinking on social media more than on a phone call. I follow trendsmap.com to see what people are talking about in my market specifically and I serve that need; it enlightens me to the real-time conversations that are happening. I read what my listeners are posting on their pages and I comment where relevant. I take the most local relevant topics and post the audio to Spreaker or my website and then to Facebook (and beyond).
I've found that I get hundreds of podcast-downloads per week, 100-200 new likes on Facebook, dozens of new followers on Twitter/Google Plus, and hundreds of comments and likes to the topics each week by consistently trying to "move the needle" of rhetoric in our community. Ratings take a back seat when you can show an advertiser that you are getting 2-3x your competitions' engagement online. In fact, my show page on Facebook has developed a larger following than the other two heritage talk stations in our market in just one year. My goals are lofty, but as a result, I'm finding that I can get politicians to call the show to set the record straight and other media outlets to react in our market to what we're doing. If our station can shape the dialogue, we can win!
7. Who are your heroes and influences?
Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I can't help but call Ronald Reagan a hero. I remember watching President Reagan on TV as a child and being drawn to his humor and personality. From a radio perspective, I grew up listening to Coyote McCloud and the Zoo Crew on Y107/Nashville; they were simply incredible. Hollywood Hendrix, was the night show I produced on WSIX in Nashville and was an incredible personality on Nashville radio with whom I developed a friendship; he taught me a lot. And, I have to admit, in talk radio, I love following WSB in Atlanta. My wife is from Atlanta, so we frequently visit and I frequently listen via iHeart. What Pete Spriggs and the staff at WSB in Atlanta are doing is incredible. It's tight, edited, quick, informative, and compelling; to me, its the benchmark of talk radio in 2014. It reminds me of Y107 and WSIX in the '80s and '90s from Nashville.
8. Of what are you most proud?
Simple answer: My family. Wife and two kids.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______________.
...FITNESS. It may be a boring answer, but it helps me clear my mind.
10. What was the best advice you ever got?
Doug Baker, the program director of WSIX in Nashville listened to my air-check in 1995. I could tell it was painful for him. He told me to go into the production room every day and practice and don't give up. "You're going to feel like you'll never get this and then all of sudden one day you're going to wake up and say, I've got it! It might take a while, but you'll get it if you don't give up" That instilled the thought that you have to let go of the outcome and focus on the daily activities that lead you to success and greatness. That has worked for me in all aspects of business.