10 Questions with ... Brett Reckamp
March 15, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Radio: KLIF/Dallas; KGW/Portland; KBOI and KTIK/Boise, KERN, KGEO, KERI/Bakersfield; Director of AM Programming, Program Director, Executive Producer, Producer, Imaging Director, Host, Anchor, Reporter, Sideline Reporter, Board-Operator, Call-Screener, Building Baby-sitter
Other: Lumber Sales, Payless Cashways/Dallas Ft-Worth; TVBS/Lake Oswego
1. What made you decide to go into radio?
My mom originally turned me on; she was a Promotions Director in Dallas, Texas at a country station and always seemed to be doing really cool stuff. Something about the power of the microphone has always made my heart pound.
2. You're the PD of KERN, a station in a highly competitive market with not only cross-town competition but signals coming in from adjacent markets. How do you make KERN stand out -- how are you differentiating KERN from the other guys?
I guarantee we are tight, clever, hard working and relevant. We are also the 50,000 watt big-dog in this town and doing our best to act like it on and off the air. The first thing I did when I took over KERN last April was to embrace the heritage call letters. We live in Kern County and everything around here is Kern, so I moved away from "K-E-R-N" and began imaging the station as "Kern Radio, News Talk 1180" We got a new logo, new van, new TV spots etc. We're hitting the streets, supporting community events and trying to be as visible as possible. Internally, everyone is contributing to the max. Here at Kern Radio we are hanging our hat on news and touting the fact that we have by far the largest radio news team in the market. I hired one of the best and well-known news guys in the area in Jeff Lemucchi and created a morning news wheel, plus added local news at the top and bottom of every hour all day from 5:00 am until 11:30 pm. I approached our local ABC Television affiliate (23 ABC) and hooked up with them to further expand our news department. I'm a huge nat sound guy and love creative wraps. An Arbitron rep once told my group that the answer to the question of "what do listeners care about most?" is: "EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE SPEAKERS!" I'll never forget that little nugget.
3. You've produced a lot of shows; to your ear, what makes a great talk show? What elements do you listen for?
Don't you just love it when you're listening or participating in a show and suddenly it's over and you're wondering where the time went? Or, when you want to get out of your car to go have lunch, but you sit there for just a few more minutes because you're dying laughing or mesmerized? Those are two questions in a row in response to yours, but they are also couple of things that tell you you've got a great show. I'm big on the basics. You know, teasing forward then delivering the goods, re-setting, having a plan for every day, every hour and every segment, booking quality guests and engaging the listener and creating dialogue. The better your form the more relaxed you become and that's when the talent comes out. Some hosts just have "it"; sadly, others don't. With my imaging background, I love production and bits. As long as it's not overly tacky or straight-up mean, I say go for it. And being the geek that I am, I love listening to how a show comes in and out of breaks.
4. You have a strong news background; with all the cutbacks in news nationwide, and with all the competition in news from the Internet as well as TV and print, are you optimistic about the future of radio news? What role do you see radio news playing in the media landscape -- how do you think it will survive?
It's all about local -- live and local, that's what's going to keep radio and specifically our format alive and well. We provide services that folks can't get anywhere else, and we do it quicker and more often. To quote a very common industry liner, "See it tonight, read it tomorrow or hear it now!" Even when an anchor is delivering a national story it's still coming from a trusted local source and ideally would have a local angle and would then be advanced based on how the story could affect our community and individual listeners. The digital platform and streaming, along with social media, are also big parts of what we are all doing these days. There are several U.S. radio syndicators adding national news blocks as we speak, which is a great sign. MP3s are here to stay, but good news-talk-information radio is as safe as a kitten.
5. About what are you most passionate about these days?
Just like Charlie Sheen (minus the hookers and blow), it's all about winning.
6. What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
Holy crap, so many moments, so little time! One time very early in my career at KGW, I got to go out for Ralph Steadman and his morning show. I was supposed to be getting some reaction from some shoppers on the streets of Portland; instead, when they went to me live, I did my best Cliff Clavin impression... right....
7. Who are your mentors and inspirations in the business?
Rogers Brandon (AGM Owner & President), Toni Snyder (AGM GM), Brian Jennings (Alpha Broadcasting Director of Talk Programming), Andrew Paul (KBOI and KTIK Program Director), Nate Shelman (KBOI PM Drive Host), Ken Weaver (KBOI News Director) and Jason Wilmot (Peak Broadcasting Director of Operations 580 & 630 KIDO)
8. Of what are you most proud right now?
Personally: my charismatic, uber-smart and talented 4-year-old son Keenan. Professionally: the re-birth of certain members of my staff who have re-discovered the joys of things like the use of nat sound, killer live shots, creative writing, being accurate, on time and sounding like a million bucks.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without______________.
...coffee and texting.
10. What's the best advice you ever got? The worst?
The best: Brian Jennings turned to me one day and said, "So, Brett, what do you think about being a Program Director?" The worst : Nate Shelman turned to me one day and said: "Dude trust me, you never want to be a Program Director."