10 Questions with ... Jay Styles
December 4, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I grew up in Rochester, NY, at a time when the city was littered with rich talent (Brother Wease, Scott Spezzano, Chris "Lear Jet" Leary, Artie The One Man Party, just to name a few). I started in radio in 1997 as Sports Dir./play-by-play for my high school radio station, WIRQ (Irondequoit, NY). When I graduated, I came on board with 98PXY and worked alongside one of the best lineups of radio talent ever assembled (Mike Danger, Steve-O, Kobe, Java Joel, Scott Spezzano). From there, I made my way up and down the East Coast: State College, PA (WBHV), Jacksonville, FL (WAPE), Greenville, SC (WHZT), Roanoke, VA (WJJS), Mobile, AL (WABB), and Tampa, FL (WSJT), and now currently on 98.7 The Fan (WHFS) in Tampa.
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I am doing everything and basically anything. I host weekend shows on the CBS Radio Sports/Talk in Tampa, FL (98.7 The Fan). Right now my passion is a charity project that I am knee-deep in, which benefits military personnel battling PTSD. I am also doing a couple of side projects within the industry as well as a few P/T jobs to keep me from becoming Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." My personality is such that I always have to keep moving.
2) 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 read a great Facebook post a few weeks ago that Chad Rufer (PD/KZZO) wrote that was very telling of radio. I agree with Chad that radio has become more "status" rather than "appreciation." I personally cringe when I read a Facebook post that says, "Ugh, I have to track six shows and schedule five days of music ... FML" How someone like that is a PD, much less employed, is a disgrace. I also see a lack of young talent being developed. I can only think of three or four talented morning shows coming up right now. We are not grooming shows, just three-second talkers, meaning some of the current syndicated shows might have to entertain audiences 50 years outside of their demo. It's a scary thought. However, there are brilliant minds running the show and radio will be fine for many years to come. Will radio be heard in the traditional sense 15 years from now? No, but the local end will always be necessary.
3) What do you miss about radio?
I miss the power of scheduling a day of music. To me, that is still the coolest part of the job. I also miss getting the e-mail from the label and hearing that new song before anyone else! It's like you're part of a secret society and when you play it for a friend it's like you're giving them something sacred (even if the song is garbage).
4) With consolidation there are fewer jobs; how do you stick out from the rest?
My dear friend "Zann" from Now in NYC is an excellent example of how to win over the system in today's new age. First off she's very talented. Secondly, she thinks outside the box: The content of the material, from her resume to her demo, was memorable. She branded herself: Her name was everywhere, and she was persistent in contacting EVERYONE -- 50 or so PDs when she was out of work, even if they had nothing available. When she is on-air, she makes EVERY break, even if it's just a two-second intro, FUN! If you're seriously complaining about the lack of song intros, I will show a line of out-of-work DJs who would gladly love to hit a :2 second post. BTW, feel free to hit up Zann. She is a wonderful person and is always willing to help.
5) What is the most unbelievable question you have been asked in a interview?
It has all been pretty standard throughout my career. However, if you asked me what was one of the craziest reasons why someone hired you ... without mentioning names, I was told early on in my career that one of the biggest reasons why I was hired was because I was good looking and that chicks would want to **** me! True story ... I was basically a virgin at that point in my life, but that quickly changed soon after.
6) What do you do to maintain a positive attitude?
There are bad days, no question about it. But, I have engulfed myself in so many different projects in order to keep myself distracted from noticing the fact that I don't have medical or dental. One project I am particularly proud of is my "Hold My Paw Project: F-L-A to D-C" It is a walk I will undertake by myself that starts in Tampa and ends in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness and money for military men and women who battle PTSD. All proceeds will be going to a charity that trains dogs to help those military vets with PTSD. If something great in radio does not leave me with a "thrill going up my leg" (Chris Matthews) feeling, I will proceed full steam ahead with this.
7) Are you spending as much time as you used to listening to radio?
I am listening like a listener and it's mind-blowing, especially being in a city like Tampa that is filled with top-shelf stations and talent. I am a big Talk radio fan and I have found a lot of great podcasts as well (Jay Mohr and Alec Baldwin both have terrific ones).
8) Do you plan on staying in radio?
I have moved so much and sacrificed so much over the past 10+ years that I would love to land an "ideal" situation" at this point. I am 30, I have lived in seven different states, I have been on four different formats, I have had a #1 show in every daypart, some in multiple formats, and I have programmed or helped program in three different formats. I never saw New York City as achieving the golden ticket. Some of the moments I cherish the most happened while I worked for Beaver 103 in State College, PA. If you told me tomorrow that I could no longer work in radio, I'd be disappointed, but content with what I have accomplished. With that being said, I hate U-Haul, I love being near my family, and there are other avenues I wish to explore until an "ideal" situation presents itself.
9) What is the next job you wish to obtain?
I want to be a PD or be in a situation like I was in Tampa and Jacksonville, learning and honing my skills under Hall of Famers such as Cat Thomas and Bob Neumann. If not, I am having a blast doing Sports/Talk and if a spot were to open up in Western New York where I could talk about my beloved Syracuse Orange and Buffalo Bills, that would be the Willy Wonka "Golden Ticket!"
10) Seen any great movies recently?
"Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" are both fantastic!