10 Questions with ... David Mello
February 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have been in radio since 1985, mostly in small radio stations in California. My last gig was an overnight board op/news anchor for KFBK/Sacramento for nearly 11 years. I have won news citations from the Associated Press and United Press International. Since 2008, I've been a staff writer for a sci-fi website called Whedonopolis, covering major fan conventions and reviewing TV shows, movies and books. Through my career, I have covered an earthquake, a couple of murder trials, local government, a couple of movie premieres and political campaigns. I've also interviewed a few actors and celebrities for a couple of Internet websites. It's a career that may have made me an odd fit in today's reporting world.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I go to the Iinternet sites every day, looking for any position, whether it's for a newspaper or radio station. Even though I am not heard on the radio, I still think I can contribute with my writing and reporting skills.
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 have discovered that radio is getting less important because, except for rare examples, it's losing connection with the community. Just sponsoring something is not enough. Radio should talk about local issues more often, especially News/Talk stations that rely on syndication rather than local hosts. It's also having a tough time trying to adapt to the current world of iPods and smartphones. As long as radio makes an effort with local podcasts and broadcasting through apps, that's a good sign.
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I would like to stay in radio, mainly as a news reporter. However, if I'm offered a job as a staff writer for the Internet, I will do that. I am also experimenting with doing video blogs through YouTube. I recently made one on the Tower Theater's 75th anniversary.
4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
It was 1996, when I was "on the beach" for four years in Eureka. I went to a new station, KGOE, and asked about a reporting job. I offered to work for a thousand dollars a month ... and it worked. It lasted a year, but it was the only time I had to create a job to be hired.
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
My next job should be similar to what I did before: combination board operator, reporter and anchor, just like when I was a "one-man band" in news in the 1990s. However, I'd be willing to take on other duties, including remotes.
6) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
While I have applied to at least 100 stations and around 90 newspapers, usually in small towns, 10% of the places where I applied have bothered to tell me that the job has been filled. A few have said they liked my resume, but decided to look for someone who fits their job requirements better. I have had only two callbacks, but no personal interviews.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
The best way to stand out is to have as many skills as possible. In my many years as a radio news reporter and anchor, I have picked up other skills like basic Microsoft Word, Photoshop and Adobe Audition. I also have some experience in NexGen, too. At KFBK, I'm probably the only person who can not only anchor the news, but also amend a music log on FM stations on the fly, add links to podcasts, and update news on the website.
8) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment was getting one of my local stories on national radio. This was back in April 1992 when an earthquake hit Humboldt County. Some of my stories played on KNBR, and one story was played during a five-minute national CBS News update. It's a shame I still don't have it.
9) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
I regret not being more aggressive in trying to get a chance to write more news stories. I thought I could cover stories like the regular reporters. I even gave KFBK updates to the aborted attempt to bring the Olympic torch to San Francisco in 2008 due to possible protests. They knew I could anchor the news. I was often asked to do that when someone fell ill. I should have let them know I could write and report, too.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Try to get into radio or TV as early as you can. Thanks to new technology, even high school students can make their own podcasts to prove they're able to be the next big morning show star or TV reporter. Also, learn as many skills as possible. You never know what roles you'll be expected to fill in your first radio or TV job.
Great movies you've recently seen ...
12 Years A Slave, In A World..., Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Philomena. I've reviewed these movies for my blog, too.