10 Questions with ... Jason Page
June 5, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1995 - WELI-A/New Haven, CT - High School Football Reporter
- 1996 - WHMP-A/Northampton, MA - News Anchor, Sports Reporter
- 1998 - KZZJ-A/Rugby, ND - Sports Dir./Sales/Play-By-Play
- 1998 - WCTR-A/Chestertown, MD - Sports/News Dir./Sales/Play-By-Play
- 1999-2000 - WKBK-A/Keene, NH - News Dir./Anchor/Reporter
- 2001- WLAD-A/Danbury, CT - News Anchor/Reporter
- 2003-2007 - Sirius/XM Radio/New York - Talk Host, Sports/Talk Host; Sirius Sports 123 (Now Mad Dog Radio); Anchor, Sirius NFL Radio
- 2008-2011 - WPOP-WAVZ-A/Hartford-New Haven, CT - Host of "The Back Page" w/Jason Page; Play-By-Play voice of the UFL's Hartford Colonials; Play-By-Play voice of Central Connecticut State University Football
- 2011-2012 - KGMZ-A/San Francisco - Weekend Sports-talk host; Weekday fill-in host
I've also spent the past few years making myself into a viable television personality. I've hosted a weekly football show for the now-defunct Hartford Colonials of the UFL. I also hosted my own TV show, "The Back Page," w/Jason Page on Connecticut Sports Network.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
This doesn't tend to be an industry where people are going to feel sorry for you when you are out of work. Pouting about it doesn't do you much good. I took about five or six months after being let go in Hartford to step back and look at things. It was the first time since I was 17 that I didn't have any sort of job. I worked in the industry from a very young age. I am sure I was suffering from some level of "burn-out." Taking a little bit of time off wasn't the worst thing. Once my mind was right, I started putting together some of my best airchecks and promos and getting them packaged together. I launched a website to keep my mind active. I did some writing as well. I made cameos on a popular morning show in Connecticut so that my fans still had some place to hear me. It also kept my material fresh.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Doing some travel and some fill-in air work around the region. When you live in Connecticut, it affords you opportunities to make relatively short rides into a couple of major cities like Boston and New York. I hosted 4-7p on the all-new ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM this past Saturday.
3) Some people get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
I don't know. This is going to be a long answer. Many of the same observations I had from the inside are the same ones I have from the outside. We all read sites like AllAccess.com and get the latest news. Sometimes you just shake your head. One of the frustrations for me on the Sports/Talk side is the continual habit of recycling guys around the major markets. Let's see, "Personality __________ failed miserably in New York or Los Angeles. Let's throw him into another similar situation in another top-5 or top-10 market." I'll get myself into some hot water for this statement, but finding places today that are willing to build talent rather than importing it is rare. Justin Craig, over at 98.7 FM ESPN in New York City, is one who had done some of that. In Houston, Gavin Spittle with the CBS Sports/Talker there has done the same. I am sure there are some others, but they're the exception more than the rule.
I wouldn't say I was out of the business, but I learned a lot just as a weekend host in San Francisco working with Jason Barrett. He is a PPM wizard. He gets how to win in PPM and I learned more in those six months about PPM than I did in my last two years in Hartford.
4) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I have worked in the industry since I was a teenager. It's hard for me to imagine doing anything else.
5) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
All Access continues to be the standard-bearer in this business. It's been that way ever since I got in the business over 15 years ago. Sites like Staatalent.com do a good job as well for sportscasters.
6) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
This isn't a black-and- white sort of answer. I view myself as versatile. Sports/Talk has been my bread and butter for nearly a decade. Those will always be the first opportunities that I look at. I'd like to be in a top-20 market Monday thru Friday in afternoon-drive.
BUT I am as capable of Talk as I am of doing Sports-Talk. I think there is a hybrid talk-show that can be done that incorporates current events, sports, entertainment and politics. All of these can be delivered in an informative and entertaining way. It just takes a PD with the vision to see the project through to its conclusion.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
Any sort of Talk radio comes down to the combination of being both entertaining and informative. The balance of the two is critical. It's not about how much you know. It's about HOW you present what you DO know. I'm looking at the top-20 markets these days when it comes to my next gig. So in this PPM world, understanding the way people listen to the radio is everything. I am shocked at how many major market hosts can't do the little things that would turn a show with good ratings, into a show with great ratings.
- Teasing on the front and back end.
- Identifying who the guest is and letting the guest provide the content. Too many times, hosts like to show off how much they know to a guest.
- Doing the proper prep before and after shows.
With all that being said, I sometimes think that PDs are out-thinking themselves. If you give a talented guy with a solid tape and solid resume a good year of support, they can be every bit as successful as the big names who are being catapulted from large market to large market -- AND PDs can get these guys for far less than the big-name guys that they bring in. I came to Hartford in 2008 on a 5,00- watt AM Sports-Talk station. The ratings were around a 1.0 in diary when I arrived. For the first six months or so, our guests were below average to average at best. By the time we got to the 15-18 month range, we were starting to pull in good names. These were names that market #52 wasn't supposed to be getting. By the end of year 3, in PPM, we were pulling in a 5.3 in the 25-54 Male Demo. That was with zero marketing support as well. Good shows will gain traction. You have to be willing to get out into the community. I went out to games around the state three or four days/nights per week.
8) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
I am listening a bit more to see how much my style differs from those who are working in the markets I want to infiltrate.
9) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
It's funny, for the first 10 years or so that I worked in the industry, it was all about me. It was about how I felt as a result of doing radio. I was never the type who had tons of friends in school or was popular. So the feeling I had early in my career was one that boosted my ego. But when I got to Hartford, it became about my listeners. In satellite, it's hard to see the impact you have on people because you don't often meet your listeners. In Hartford, doing radio in my own backyard was special. E-mails from listeners telling me how much better their ride home was as a result of my hard work made me feel really proud. But it also made me realize how great of a responsibility I had to those listeners to bust my ass every day for them. There are more than a few major-market hosts who have gotten comfortable in their gigs and coast one or two days per week. That's unacceptable to me. This profession is a lifestyle choice. It's not a 9-5 job.
So in a long-winded way, I miss being able to have an impact in the community that I had for the years I was on in Hartford. I can't wait to have that impact again.
10) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
The hardest lesson I learned is how short some people's memories tend to be. A lot of people knew how to get in touch with me when they wanted something back when I had my daily gig in Hartford. The large majority of those same people vanished when I got let go at the end of my contract. That was a hard lesson to learn. But it's made me stronger and wiser in the end.
What's your handicap now that you've had time to practice?
I am down to a 10 handicap.