10 Questions with ... Ken Payne
April 16, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have over 20 years of broadcast experience in medium and large markets (we'll skip the smaller stuff) ... most of that time as both PD and air talent in the AC format. I've programmed B98-FM and MIX in Wichita, KS, WRMF and WRLX in West Palm Beach, and for the last 14 years, WMGF (Magic) in Orlando. More recently, I added duties of PD at our HD2/translator Smooth Jazz WLOQ. My job was eliminated by the company shortly before the holidays, so I am seeking the next adventure. That sounds trite, but really ... I am! I love a challenge.
I would not take back a minute of my time in Orlando. Working with such talented and wonderful people was a dream job. I always said that I loved it so much I would stay there until someone kicked me out the door ... but honestly, I was just kidding, guys!
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I come from a slightly dysfunctional family where we were taught at an early age to "get over it" if there was a problem ... LOL ... so I guess it's in my nature. On the more serious side, I have lost way too many family members and friends over the years not to treat each day as a gift. We can't always control what happens to us, but we CAN control how we react to that situation.
Whether it's the loss of a job, or a crisis at the station, it's important to maintain a cool head and focus on the positive. Recently, I have turned my talents of organization and personality to my job hunt and our household. It's not often you get a break in this business, so I am actually enjoying every minute of it and taking advantage of the time to do all sorts of things ... for ME and my family!
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
You would think with more time on your hands, you would goof off more. However, my dreams of lying around playing video games and swigging beer just haven't materialized thus far. Although I do enjoy a good video game now and then, mostly I am tackling home projects like refinishing furniture and organizing my office space (years of clutter and junk there). I'm also rebuilding a few computers and tinkering with software, two of my passions. I have also started exercising, which is something that I never had time for while working. Most importantly, I'm getting to spend extra time with my wife, and that has been awesome! Hopefully she will survive the experience!
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 would not be telling the truth if I said I wasn't the least bit scared about my future. That having been said, the thought of taking on a new gig with new people and challenges is very exciting. At the same time, I been very discouraged to see so many great PDs eliminated from just about every major company. It seems that many companies are seeing AC and Classic Hits as "formats in a box" and they are combining the management of the stations with the Top 40 or Hot AC in the cluster. I find that really strange, since there is often substantial revenue on the line, and I never found myself with extra time during the workday. That means there are fewer people to do the work and multiple stations suffer due to lack of focus and attention.
4) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
At the moment that's the plan, but I am open to any possibility. It's hard to imagine moving from sunny Florida, so it would be awesome to find something I could do from my home, perhaps with just a bit of travel. I love computers and software, so something in that area is also a possibility. In order to move, I definitely need to feel good about the opportunity and the location.
Every time I look at a job opening outside the business, it looks pretty boring! Searching for PD openings can be a daunting task. As I search the job sites of major broadcast companies, I can count on one hand the number of viable PD openings since the first of the year. Sad but true!
5) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
Actually I have never been out of work since I was a teenager, so this is a very strange feeling for me. I've never been fired, and mostly I just moved on to bigger and better jobs. My position was also eliminated in West Palm Beach, but they gave me enough notice to search while I was still working. That's when I found the job in Orlando.
6) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
All Access, hands down ... okay, that was a blatant suck-up. Word-of-mouth and the recommendation of a friend is definitely the most compelling method. I remember as a PD with active postings, if a colleague or friend recommended someone who carried a lot of weight.
7) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
I saw a survey on TV just last night that, on average, four out of five people never hear back after applying for a position. That doesn't seem to be the case in radio. I've heard from corporate recruiters, VPs of Programming and others after applying. There have been a few where there was no feedback whatsoever after my application. Was it something I said? Wait ... we never talked!
8) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
My record speaks for itself. I think a phone conversation with me and a canvas of my references will reveal I have the skill set most stations are seeking, with none of the attitude and baggage that turns employers off. I simply want to be successful and to translate that into ratings and revenue for my employer. Still, there are a ton of good people looking for work. So again, it may come down to right place, right time.
9) If you were offered a similar position to what you were doing for considerably less money, would you seriously consider taking the job just to stay in the biz?
Only if the location and opportunity were compelling, and there was an upside at the end. A compelling opportunity would be one that gets my foot in the door at a company like Greater Media, which I consider to be one of the best around.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
Running an incredibly successful station in a very large market ... looking back at this time and laughing that I was ever worried about my future. That seems to be how my life always turns out, so I am expecting more of the same!
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
"The Icarus Deception" by Seth Godin. He talks about how we are all 'artists' and how each of us has something unique to contribute in this new age where technology has totally changed the playing field. Great read, especially for someone trying to reinvent themselves!