10 Questions with ... Jeffrey D. Rayno
June 24, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I got into radio based on a series of fortunate events. I worked with a science museum as a program creator (live stage shows), and I did guest spots on radio stations to promote events. Simultaneously, I was promoting a nightclub in Savannah. I had done fill-in work for a local station after their morning talk host gave me my first break. The local general manager offered me my first morning show, three hours of talk, which I shared with Brian Mudd, who is now down in Palm Beach, FL. My close ties with local politics cost me my position, but since then I have walked away from the two party system ... and I feel remarkably cleaner. I now do field interviews for a major research firm in Rockville, MD which allows me to travel America. However I miss the honor of hosting a morning talk show.
1) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I would say yes. Radio has the power of using words to create imagery and ideas that are intimately communicated through the airwaves. It is these words and ideas that can captivate the heart and souls of listeners and awake their desire to participate and become a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Right now, Talk radio is the voice of reason, and it is the traffic cop of all issues, whether they are political, social or cultural. Talk radio is also the voice of the people, a symbolic pressure relief valve, for a world that seems to not make sense any more.
2) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
While there are many places to go, the most complete listing of legitimate openings has been with All Access. Couple that with the ratings listings for various markets, and you can gauge what the pay scales may or may not be. Accurate information is crucial to making informed decisions about my career moves, and All Access provides that.
3) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I believe my dream job would be traveling across Amercia as a talk show host bringing the program to where major events were happening. It could be a city hit by a hurricane, a huge political rally, the Indy 500, or any significant subject that would interest millions of Americans. The story from afar is usually quite different when you have "boots on the ground" talking to eyes and ears who really know the true story to be told. It would be more than a soundbyte. This job would allow me to be with my family while doing what I love. If the dream is not a reality, just becoming part of a community and sharing ideas would be an honor.
4) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
You have to place yourself in the shoes of the person who may or may not hire you. They have a bottom line to consider, and you have to prove that you give them the most bang for their buck. I try to be first, and foremost, honest with the audience concerning my humanity and my flaws. People truly respond to a genuine person largely because we are constantly surrounded by people who are hiding behind their inner most fears and flaws by creating personalities that are lies.
Secondly, I learn as many tools of the trade as I can. I have become an effective public speaker for outreach opportunities. I have been published many times in regional and national publications because I offer opinions that resonate with others. I am able to create compelling social media content with video or the written word with pictures.
Third, you have to have a desire to be among the people to promote the brand and yourself as an icon of that brand. I can buy into that 100%, and hopefully a prospective employer would see that as well.
5) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
With the creation of iHeartRadio, I can listen to radio anywhere I want to and at any time. So typically, I am listening to different Talk radio host styles and seeing what is successful and what is not. I remember working in Florida when Glenn Beck was in Tampa, and I kept telling folks in Savannah how incredible this guy was. It is quite easy to recognize talent, so I search for that on the radio. There is a danger for Talk hosts to try and emulate what the successful host is doing, but I think the only way to success is to be yourself and hope others like what you do.
6) What do you miss the most about radio?
I miss the fact that I feel I was fulfilling my purpose in life, which was to interact with people through mass media. I was able to entertain and educate them in such a way that they would be motivated to action. It is the thoughtful and careful use of ideas that will change the world in a positive way.
The thing I don't miss is the coffee. The station had the worst coffee on the planet. Even the roaches went for the poison instead. I considered it after my first cup.
7) Is there anything that you regret doing while you were still working?
I was a county commissioner while I was doing my radio job, so it was a balancing act of holding folks accountable and really being intellectually honest with the audience. Sometimes the law restricts you from revealing things you might personally feel the public has a right to know. I was serving two masters, and that was a mistake on my part. A Talk show host has to be committed to burrowing to the truth regardless of whom the light happens to shine upon.
8) What have you learned about yourself, others or life in general in your downtime?
I learned I was a very prideful person taking credit for things I really didn't deserve, and I learned I was very judgmental. The mirror is a good place to see the flaws in my own life. I now realize that people make decisions in life that are often bad, but that should not define their whole life. There is a capacity to change, and while others have shown mercy on me for my mistakes, I need to do the same thing for them. We are human, and we are born to make mistakes (Thank you, Billy Joel and Human League).
With age you also learn to listen. There are many great ideas out there. The real magic is picking the best of the best and making them into a viable plan for the future. Taking the time to do it right is key.
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?
No, I would not. In this life, the best of the best are paid well. They know they are respected for their abilities, and their paycheck reflects it. Eventually, a person who accepts less pay becomes resentful, unhappy, and soon they aren't so good at what they did initially because of attitude. I believe if you invest in people it will yield large dividends for their employer.
I work to feed, clothe and shelter my family, so I need the compensation to reflect a job well done out of respect for all that I hold near and dear to my heart.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years?
A risk taking, creative and intuitive station owner will read this article and realize that this Jeff Rayno character is making some real sense. On a whim, he or she will reach out and contact me to brainstorm about some ideas. That will lead to a personal meeting to discuss finer details, and we will map out a deal that could lead to syndication in a number of key markets. After the initial success, while the iron is hot, we'll broker a book deal and tour ... and the rest of the five years will be the hard work associated with telling the truth on a daily basis while interacting with the best audience of the world ... the radio listener.
My favorite new diversion is...
Since I live in Savannah, GA (which is a diversion unto itself), I have become intrigued with my home town of West Fort Ann, NY. In my spare time, I have been writing a murder mystery that focuses on fictional characters that are from my Farley Road home and the neighboring city of Fort Ann. It is a humorous tale of a young boy and girl trying to solve the mystery of how their gym coach died. The sheriff has a Southern accent he developed watching "Cool Hand Luke," and the town is full of other eclectics that seem to ooze out of the woodwork. I hope to have it finished this year. The 1800s farmhouse that is featured in the book collapsed last year due to heavy snow, but perhaps when Hollywood does the movie, they'll rebuild it for me.