10 Questions with ... Greg Ratliff
October 20, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I interned for WWGN Radio in Ottawa, Illinois in 2004. Graduated from the Illinois Center for Broadcasting (now Illinois Media School) in 2008 and served as APD for SportsTown Chicago at ICB/IMS while interning at WRMN 1410 in Elgin, Illinois. Landed with Entercom in Memphis, Tennessee in 2014 where I've been working as the Special Programs Producer for 92.9 FM & 790 AM. Also now serve as an in-arena producer for Memphis Grizzlies basketball.
1. What made you decide to go into radio? Why radio?
Even from a very young age I was an entertainer and had family in the media in various forms. The big thing that turned me towards radio was having a friend as a kid, Johnathon Eltrevoog, that worked for WWGN 88.9 in my hometown, and I spent a lot of time there with him. And from there I knew that's what I wanted to do.
2. You've worked in other fields -- retail, for example -- while pursuing your radio goals. What from your other work has been a benefit to you in doing radio? What have you learned and experienced that has helped you on the radio side?
Every non-radio job I've had has been very customer service oriented, and that whole idea translates well into any type of entertainment. Without the customer/consumer, you have no purpose. No matter how much you like/dislike what you do, the person receiving that service whether it be goods of some type or tuning into your show, they want to be catered to. And if you're just out for yourself, it'll get you nowhere.
3. You developed a podcast for the station -- why did you decide to do that and what's it about?
I've always been a big fan of the medium, and our station is always trying to find new ways to get content out to our listeners. I'm a HUGE hockey fan, and we don't really talk hockey on our stations so I came up with the idea to do "From The Penalty Box," which ran on our site for a few months. Eventually my PD and APD brought up the idea of having me do a pro wrestling show, due to us being in one of the biggest markets historically when it comes to pro wrestling. So now, when I'm able, I do the wrestling show every other week for our website. I get people that cover wrestling nationally and some wrestlers themselves to come on and not just talk about what's on TV but more so why they love the sport.
4. As a producer, what to your ear makes a good show? What are you looking for when you work with the hosts? And what are your priorities as a producer to provide to the hosts during a typical show?
Focused and approachable. Our station is very personality driven, and I always try to make the shows I do appeal to anyone. I'm not a big fan of the idea of a host telling the listener what they should believe. But a conversation about why someone feels the way they do is awesome to me.
5. You also write for the website, so you're doing a diverse list of duties for the station. Is that something that just happened or was that the plan? What kind of skills beyond the typical radio production skills should aspiring radio people have to survive and prosper in the business now?
You absolutely HAVE to wear many different hats. I definitely didn't plan on writing for the station's website when I got hired. It mostly came from me suggesting it. Once you get the proverbial "foot in the door," you have to create opportunities for yourself sometimes. Definitely don't be afraid to learn anything and everything around the station. Jump in. If it's not for you, then okay. But at least try. If they like you, they'll just say no if you have an idea that doesn't fit. But ask. Create a good business plan. Show why it makes sense. And you never know where it'll go.
6. Who are your inspirations, mentors, and influences in the business?
I spent a lot of time listening to great radio out of Chicago as a kid, and that was a huge influence. Back around '94 or '95, when 670 AM was still WMAQ and was a news station, they did a nightly sports talk show that I listened to every night with my small AM/FM radio and headphones while I lay in bed. Until then I didn't know sports radio was a thing and I got hooked big time.
And I have the best mentor in my current PD, Brad Carson. He always shoots straight with me and listens to my goofy ideas whether they'll work or not. But he also takes time to explain why something won't work, which is great, because I've worked for many different people who don't give that same support.
7. What do you do for fun?
I love trying to spend time with my family as much as I can. As you touched on earlier, I work a full time retail job on top of all I do for Entercom Memphis. So anymore, I just love being able to spend time with my fiancée and my twin girls.
8. Of what are you most proud?
My twin girls. They have changed my and my fiancée's lives in such amazing ways. As they grow up, I know they'll keep making us more and more proud.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _______________.
...my phone! I don't even use my laptop anymore or ANY computer unless I'm at the station. It's my connection to the world.
10. What's the best advice you've ever gotten? The worst?
Worst advice?? I had a guidance counselor in high school that talked me into taking ALL of the wrong classes in college. I only went for a semester and a half before dropping out. Only positive to come from it is it led me to go to broadcasting school a few years later.
Best advice? My PD Brad Carson always tells me, "You just keep being you." Or some variation of that. It helps me remember to let my personality show through in everything I do for the station.