10 Questions with ... Barry Dawson
June 19, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started my radio journey in Eastern North Carolina in 1996 at WRHT and WCBZ (The Hot FM). In 1998 I migrated north to Allentown, PA where I worked for WAEB (B104) and eventually WZZO. From 1996-2011, I worked full-time in radio. I've worked in every department and have a keen understanding of how they all operate and how they all come together at the end of the day! My final position was Promotions Dir./middays on 95.1 WZZO. I've been "on the beach" since October of 2011.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I have always been a "glass half-full" personality! There are always going to be successes and unfortunately failures. Lamenting on failure isn't a way to move forward. Likewise, blaming "the industry" or any other factors for being "on the beach" is a toxic mentality to assume. I've seen so many dear friends blame everything and everyone but themselves. Once you are let go, you instantly have a new job. It is to convince another station that you belong in this business! I have had some great professional successes! I was with an amazing station for a very long time, one that I grew up listening to. It was an honor to work for WZZO and certainly the market legends that I worked with. Just knowing what I accomplished thus far and what I can achieve in the future motivates me every day!
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Learning. I have been continuing my education, working towards a degree in Business. It is very gratifying. I've also been traveling a lot. I have radio friends from New York to Florida! I know I-95 like I know my driveway!
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I LOVE this question! I think anyone who has been unceremoniously axed has said or at least thought... "I'm done with radio." I'll admit I am guilty. Partly because of my love and loyalty to WZZO and partly because of what radio takes out of you physically and mentally. I'm 34 and have a grey head of hair and beard (thanks radio, h aha)! That feeling of "this is it" however, only lasted for about 45 minutes after I was "reduced in force." Let's face it, we all have the sickness. Radio is like the government. We're all politicians doing things behind closed doors that the civilians don't know about and frankly don't need to. Radio is what I love! It's what WE love. I'm not ready for a civilian job just yet!
4) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
Is this really a question? Is there any better source than All Access? If you're not logging in multiple times per day, then the margaritas "on the beach" have gone to your head. In addition to All Access, I've gone directly to a lot of station websites, Radio and Music Pros (RAMP), and don't dismiss the power of LinkedIn. It is a wonderful networking tool! Let's not kid our selves, though. It's all here!
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I started out in this business driving all over Eastern North Carolina to every backwoods festival known to man, setting up a hot pink 14-foot cold air balloon for a Top 40 station. When I wasn't doing that, I was vacuuming the floors, answering phones, faxing contracts, writing scripts, producing spec spots, board-op'ing, and I even helped the General Sales Manager replace the tin roofs on his barns after Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1997. At one time or another, I worked sales, continuity, production and on-air in North Carolina. In Allentown, I reported traffic from an airplane, board-op'ed the Philadelphia Phillies, was the Assistant Production Manager for the cluster, and when my position was eliminated I had been the Promotions Director/midday dude at WZZO for six years.
The only thing I haven't done is the one thing I've always wanted and that's to be a PD. I'm not naïve, however. I realize there aren't many stations anxious to take on a new hire "rookie" PD. I love radio and I want to be a part of something great! I want to be with a station in any capacity, preferably with room to grow! I started as nothing and worked my way up before. I am more than willing to do it again!
6) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied?
I'll just say that there are various degrees of professionalism in our industry, from "no reply at all," to "thanks" in an e-mail response to your submission, to the occasional call-back. I've received no letters of rejection. You pretty much get the point when you don't hear back. A few weeks ago I actually interviewed with a guy that I listened to on-air before I got into radio, which was very cool! I look at it this way ... EVERY resume and aircheck I submit gets my name in front of another radio pro! That is never a bad thing. It's another way of networking, whether you get the job or not!
7) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
In the '90s and early '00s, you could afford to eat Ramen Noodles five nights a week and pizza on the weekend! Now it's five days a week of Ramen and maybe some cabbage water on the weekend? That's the sacrifice you make to have a job you love.
8) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I like to draw my resume in crayon on construction paper and do my air-checks on cassette! I package them into a giant box, wrap it using Valentine's Day gift wrap, and snail mail it to the boss of the person doing the hiring! You know what they say! You only have one chance to make a first impression.
9) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
As Promotions Director, there were a lot of memorable on-air promotions and NTR campaigns that I created. Honestly, the thing that I am most proud of is not what we made in terms of traditional revenue but what we were able to give back to the community. I created many charitable promotions that helped raise thousands of dollars for people affected by disease or tragedy, within the market. The sales staff was able to monetize most of them through sponsorship so it was always a win-win. Having 1,500 bikers come up to you at an event that you named and coordinated to say "thank you," OR being able to give concert tickets to a young listener with a terminal disease who is a HUGE fan of one of the bands we play ... that brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it. Having listeners tell you that something you did "changed their life" is an accomplishment that's hard to beat.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
I knew this answer after my first year in radio. It's what was preached to me by my late mentor (Luther Griffin) and it's what I always told my part-timers and interns. Learn as much as you can about every department. Volunteer to clean the bathrooms if needed. Don't think that the mindless work you're doing such as cleaning the vans or running to pick up concert tickets is beneath you. It's all very necessary and part of a natural progression. I wish I were lying when I tell you that I've had interns in the past who actually thought that their diploma entitled them to be a part of the morning show. Needless to say, those interns pursued alternative careers.
Seen any great movies recently?
The Artist, A Kings Speech, and Bridesmaids.