10 Questions with ... Jay Thomas
July 29, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I worked at WLJM (940 Jamz), an Urban station in Lima, OH as APD/MD from January 1999-August 2002, then went crosstown to handle on-air and Imaging duties for the entire Clear Channel cluster from October 2002 through February 2006.
From there, I went to WFGF (Froggy 93)/Lima (Country) on-air and was there for a year beginning in February of 2006. I then moved within the cluster to Top 40M WWSR (Star 92.1), doing on-air and production duties. In May of 2009 when the format flipped, I left to try my hand at TV and had a rather successful show that ran in the Lima and Fort Wayne markets from April of 2010 through March of 2013. I decided I wanted to get back into radio in the spring of this year and accepted a job as PD at WQTE (Q95) Country in Adrian, MI, but was displaced shortly after arriving due to being hired under false pretenses.
Ever since then, I've been On The Beach and selling diamonds and other jewelry (no lie).
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
It is very simple ... my faith. If it was not for my belief in the holy spirit and the understanding that everything in life happens for reasons beyond our control or logic, I do not believe I would be able to be in such a positive state of affairs and motivation during this time. While selling jewelry for Fred Meyer and being a diamond salesman may not be what I came to the Toledo area to do, it is where I am at currently (by way of Lambertville, MI). It is how I am keeping the bills paid and keeping food on the table. It is where I am stopping on this road I am on. Where I will end up, it's anyone's guess ... however, I know that "when I get where I'm going, they'll be only happy tears" (to quote the Brad Paisley song).
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I am spending a lot of time with my wife that I never had the opportunity to before. We are currently trying to start a family, so I can honestly say I've been having some fun, too! In all, I have been occupying my time with family and good friends. It hasn't been an easy road, but they are all collectively helping the situation with their positive words and encouragement. I have the best friends and wife a man could ever want. It's great!
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
It's tough to really say. If the right opportunity were to come along (and of course, the right dollar signs), I may consider it. At this point, though, I am enjoying the break. It's given me the chance to really clear my head and re-evaluate a lot of things in my life that I was taking for granted for a very long time.
4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
I don't know if I am able to share that here since it needs to be "radio playable" ;=) In all seriousness, I remember when I was about to leave WIMA/1150 (Talk) in late January of 2006 and knew that changes were about to happen with the cluster. I started calling some old friends across town at WZOQ/92 Zoo (Top 40) and WFGF/Froggy 93 (Country). I probably rolled the dice with it with my employer at the time, but I started going over and bugging the "you know what" out of them and just "visiting old friends" (so to speak). Eventually they got tired of seeing me there all the time and decided to give me a job to justify me being there. The next thing you know, after doing some graveyard shifts for Justin Kase at WZOQ/92 Zoo, I became the right-hand man to the Interim PD David Hopperfield at Froggy 93. That was the book period where the station smoked anyone and everyone in the way as well. I couldn't have timed that one out any better again if I tried!
5) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
I have to say it's been very touch and go. I've always had wonderful responses from Entercom stations in the past in regards to getting back with me on all levels (and honorable mention to all the stations here in the Toledo market as well), but the one that really sticks out for me most of all was a PD by the name of Bo Walker at a station in Biloxi called 95.3 The Gorilla. He not only took the time to get back with me on my materials, but actually worked with me on some air work of mine and gave me really positive constructive criticism. I really appreciated that and if he is reading this, I would like to say "Thank You" for that!
6) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I have never been afraid to try and do new things. The more a person is able to bring to the table on the levels of technology and knowledge of business in general, the more valuable they are to a potential employer. For example, I spent all of my twenties doing television along with radio and I even had my own TV show for a period of about three years called "Bruiser TV." It was a highly successful weekly Professional Wrestling/Sports Entertainment program that aired in the Lima, OH and Fort Wayne, IN markets. I prided myself on the fact that even though there were little indie wrestling events here and there in the areas that the programs were in (mostly backyard or in rundown old union halls that needed to be torn down due to legitimate health code problems), I held my live events at a real convention center, was the only independent program on television in the markets we were in and I used that to my advantage.
With the highly aggressive style of leadership that I brought to the table, I pioneered the internet pay-per-view concept in the area/territory I was broadcasting the programs in (Lima & Fort Wayne) and was the only promoter in the 50-mile radius of both said markets to be able to sell advertising and build revenue without moving a single physical merchandise product for the brand (and to my understanding, no one has been able to duplicate it or come close to it since). We also were able to garner an A+ rating during that time period with the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana and became the exclusive independently promoted Sports Entertainment brand to be broadcast in both markets (still a feat I am very proud of today).
When that ended, it gave me a bigger and much more viable advantage over those that I was up against on a business level for jobs due to the fact that not only was I the Executive Producer for a highly successful (and not to mention controversial) TV program, but I was also Head Writer, Dir./Sales, Talent Relations Representative & booker for the live events. I now had experience successfully managing sales, money, talent, bookings, events, staff, conflict management, etc, etc... It wasn't radio by any means, but It helped build my portfolio to where I am now able to say, "not only am I able to do things on-air and in the production room, I am able to cross over into the visual and new media medium(s) as well on a multitude of levels.
7) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Not really, but I am discovering that there is a much bigger world nowadays out there than just terrestrial radio. I must say that Internet radio has really improved leaps and bounds from when it was in its infancy. However, when I'm not sampling the different mediums to see what is out there, I am listening to "101.5 The River," WIOT, "Mix 95.7" and "107.3 The Juice" -- all in the Toledo market. If I'm going to listen to Talk, I will listen to Dino Costa, not just because of my past business dealings with him, but because I really do feel that he has a completely different style of Talk than anything or anyone else before him. He really is a pioneer in his style and delivery!
8) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Probably the television show I had for three years from 2010-2013 with a close runner-up to my time at WLJM Radio from 1999-2002. I would say my time at Froggy 93/WFGF in 2006, but if it was not for my time at WLJM with Desarai Downs, WFGF wouldn't have happened. The story with her was that Desarai Downs (The Duchess) had come from WJIZ in Albany, GA and had an enormous amount of success with that station (as well as a number of other Urban-formatted stations prior to that) and brought her style to Lima in September of 1996. I always wanted to work for her from the moment she came in to the market, but I was 13 then, so I had to wait a few years. Then the time came and not only did I get a job there, but she became both a personal and professional mentor to me. Together, she and I made a lot of magic together both on and off the air. It was a time of great personal and professional success in my life of which I will not soon forget.
The television show was huge for me as well due to a number of adversities I faced while doing it. Outside of everything previously stated about it, the thing was that no matter how many people came up against me or tried to derail what I was doing, it just made me that much more aggressive to take down those walls in front of me (and I did all the time). That show is responsible for more things happening not just in the sports entertainment world in the areas it served, but also from a clientele and promotional standpoint as well. It showed all the various media outlets in the market(s) that you could appeal to a niche audience and make a go of it. Since then, the attitude about sales and promotions has changed in the markets it aired in both from a radio and television standpoint. It changed the entire landscape and it's something that I am deeply proud of (and will continue to be for a long time to come)
9) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
No ... and here's why! Everything that I've done or been through has prepared me for what I have today and what I will be doing in the future. The future is unwritten and regrets are negative by-products of the past. Don't ever look back, always keep moving forward ... ALWAYS!
10) How will this experience change you when you get back to work?
It's tough to say, but I would have to say that it will "most likely" motivate me to be better and truly be the "over the top" aggressor I've been known to be from time to time in regards to getting numbers and making money. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've stepped on a few toes along the way because I wasn't "traditional" in my approach to things, but at the end of the day, feelings didn't pay the bills. If it was my job to get ratings and build the program and station/business revenue, I took the Malcolm X philosophy towards it, "By Any Means Necessary." There were some who said I was "too aggressive," while others said I was too "pushy." To me though, I just called it "business as usual!"
Uh oh ... now you're on your own for getting new music. If applicable, name your three most recent purchases since leaving the biz.
- William Control - The Neuromancer
- Steel Panther - All You Can Eat
- Miranda Lambert - Platinum