10 Questions with ... Amy Daniels
June 24, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I spent the usual first several years doing all the things we do to pay our dues; worked as an intern, worked promotions in the Twin Cities and did every event that came to town for two years and then began my on-air career.
I did mornings in Mankato, MN, Fresno and Las Vegas before returning home in 1991 and worked on-air doing middays and mornings at Kool108 and 104.1 The Point before having my son Max and taking time out from 2000 until almost 2004. I returned to Hubbard in 2004 as Commercial Production Director, the Executive Producer for Lori and Julia, and have been the Program Director since 2008.
1. First, how did you get your start in radio, and why did you decide on radio as a career?
I fell in love with radio when I was in middle school and my sister and I would listen to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 on the INTERCOM in our bedroom! Yes â€“ it was the 70's and intercoms seemed cool, but they weren't... but we had one that played the radio. I just fell in love with the medium. It was very one-on-one and cool and very powerful. When I was 20, I started in promotions at K102/WDGY - but really learned the beginnings of what makes good radio at my first on-air job in Mankato, Minnesota, a small town about 90 miles from the Twin Cities. I did morning Monday through Friday and Friday and Saturday overnights at K102 on the weekends.
2. myTalk 107.1 is a unique version of talk radio, but to reduce it to the "talk for women" concept that tends to be how it's portrayed in the trades doesn't explain what it sounds like. So, as the PD, talking to people who haven't heard the station, what DOES it sound like?
I hope we sound like a pop music driven, fun, snarky, big-hearted bunch of entertainment nerds. We KNOW that 80-90 percent of our audience is women â€“ but we have never actually used (or use) the words "talk radio for women" on the air or in marketing. That always seemed patronizing â€“ as if women (ALL women) needed some special "womanly" brand of talk radio. I hope the radio station sounds like fun. I hope it's a fresh breeze of laughter blowing through peoples ears. The intention with the imaging and the pop music bumpers was, and is, to make it feel contemporary, fresh and light. The hosts are not typical talk radio hosts. These hosts are talking about entertainment, pop culture and celebrity and they have to be having a good timeâ€¦ to sound like a good time. I also hope that the years of working on sound radio fundamentals makes them great radio hosts â€“ regardless of the format. The hosts' humor, heart and charisma are the key to this station.
3. The station has two-host teams all day -- is that by design or coincidence? Is there something about the two-person dynamic that works better for the kind of talk you're doing?
Using two or more hosts on each show is by design. The "design" has evolved since this station started â€“ but the more we decided to focus on fun and humor â€“ the more it was clear that really fun conversations don't generally happen when someone is delivering a monologue. We have definite opinions, but we aren't trying to convince anyone to vote for one party or another â€“ or imploring the Minnesota Vikings coaches to switch away from the Tampa-2 defense. We are simply here to discuss, debate and swap opinions about celebrities, television shows, movies, theatre, social media and all things entertainment and hopefully make people laugh and unwind. That's hard for one person to do alone in a studio.
4. Considering that celebrity gossip is a major component of the myTalk universe (and you carry TMZ Radio in the evenings), is there a limit to how far you'll go with that in the realm of, well, salaciousness? Is there a conscious effort to be more positive or is the stars-misbehaving element within bounds?
This is a question we wrestle with story by story sometimes. There is absolutely a line in terms of how far we'll go in terms of being decent human beings. We DO carry TMZ â€“ but when Justin Bieber is being a punk, we call him out for being a punk, but if it became evident that he was dealing with drug addiction or some other serious issue, we'd back off. When Amanda Bynes was first in the news for acting strangely, we covered it and laughed about it. Once it became clear that she was dealing with mental illness, we backed off and my hosts were very compassionate. We make a very conscious effort on-air to have opinions â€“ sometimes very strong opinions - on celebrity behavior and misbehavior and have light fun with it, but it's not fun to pile on when someone is truly struggling. Often these celeb stories are discussed more in the spirit of "aren't human beings weird â€“ and aren't celebrity human beings sometimes weirder?"
In terms of things sexual â€“ if that's what you mean by "salacious" â€“ adults know sex exists. We talk about it â€“ but tastefully - and hopefully never crudely. Mostly it's about HOW you talk about it â€“ rather than IF you talk about it.
5. How does myTalk use social media -- how important are Facebook and Twitter, and your website, to what you're doing?
We are all over it. We have a dedicated Social Media department here and they do an amazing job on the station level at feeding all the beasts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and getting great content out. Most of our hosts are extremely active on all social platforms and engage with listeners 24/7. Our strategy continues to evolve as social media and digital evolves. We have a fantastic bunch in digital, led by Jeremy Sinon, who are always looking to keep growing and adapting.
Our web department has enabled us to do things like watching "The Bachelor" or "The Voice" with our listeners - in real time - in what we call "Couch Parties" right on the website and to use tools to bring video, photos, social media and listener comments to events like Project Down and Dirty.
6. On a personal level, who have been your mentors and influences, in the business and in life?
On a personal level my mentors have been my Mom and Dad - and actually my brother and sister as well. I really am so blessed to have four of the funniest, wisest and kindest people surrounding me. They tell me the truth when I'm wrong â€“ that's the most important thing. They're usually laughing at me while they tell me I'm wrong â€“ but that's okay. They are my sounding board and my advisors.
In terms of influence in this business â€“ I would say Brian Garvin, my first PD, and Jay Kelly, a PD I had at Kool 108. They were both visionaries and really tried to make sure we knew that we needed to win â€“ but we'd only win if we believed in the product and were having a really good time.
7. What has been the most memorable moment of your career thus far?
I think the most memorable moment was last year when we did what we call Project Down and Dirty. In a nutshell: It's a reality show on the radio. Our hosts live together, broadcast their shows every day together and raise money for charity for three days â€“ and have done so for the last three years. We've done so from the Minnesota State Fair in a 32-foot RV, at Mall of America in the former Ed Hardy store (awesome wallpaper in that space), and last year it was Project Down and Dirty â€“ Boot Camp Edition. We lived with Minnesota soldiers at Camp Ripley while we raised money for military charities.
This Project Down and Dirty started on the eve of the government shutdown and after months of planning and two days of setting up â€“ we had to hold our talent in the Twin Cities and talk to military lawyers to determine whether we could proceed. When we finally got the go ahead it was the most strenuous, funny and touching 72 hours any of us had spent in radio. The soldiers and their stories changed us.
8. Of what are you most proud?
That one's easy. My son. He's 13, his name is Max and he's the nicest, funniest best person I know.
In terms of radio â€“ being a part of myTalk 107.1 and the people who work here makes me proud. Each and every host we have is hard-working, unique and completely believes in our mission. This is one of the bravest, most committed companies to have stuck with this while we tried to figure out how a new format was supposed to work took patienceâ€¦ and more patience.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ____________.
...It's such a clichÃ© - but coffee and my iPad.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten?
The best advice was from a PD I worked for at K102 named Dave Malmberg. I was 22 and trying to figure out how to make a career in radio and he told me to be just a little smarter and work a lot harder than everyone else. I'm not sure I was usually smarter â€“ but I took his advice and tried to work harder. I would tell anyone getting into this business to do the same because it's more competitive and there are far fewer jobs than when I started â€“ during the Ice Age. I never learned more than when I was working events or delivering lunches to listeners.