10 Questions with ... Victor "Jay" Mazzaraco
July 28, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started on air in 1980 at WSER-A/ELKTON, MD. I did mornings in Oneonta, NY before being hired by Jim Ryan at WJXQ in Jackson/Lansing/Battle Creek/Kalamazoo Michigan. (I'm a huge Yankee fan and like to think Derek Jeter listened to me as a kid.) Two months after being hired the station was sold and the new owner switched formats from AOR to a very hot Top 40 (I say "very hot" because we used to have to talk up the spots ... if a Coke spot had :04 of music before the jingle or vocals we had to talk up the :04). I flew home to NY from Detroit for Xmas on 12/22 and flew back to do my morning show on Monday, 12/24 ... I landed about 2a, drove straight to the station ... and was fired after my show. I said "Couldn't you have done this before I left on Friday?" The owner said "That's radio..."
I was hired for mornings on KRAB/Bakersfield by the late, great Rick Sklar of WABC-AM/NY fame (Rick programmed WABC when it was the most listened-to station in the nation and had Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie as jocks ... when it was "W-A-BEATLE-C"). Rick was a consultant at this point in his career and a legend.
I met him at his office in NYC and we went to a diner for a snack before he took me to meet the owners. I remember sitting at the counter with him thinking, "I'm sitting next to Rick effin' Sklar! Nobody knows who he is!" Rick was a legend and the most unassuming, humble man I've ever met. He was a mensch, a sweetheart, a prince of a man. I learned a heckuva lot from him. He was a runner and died while having a tendon in his foot repaired. An absolute tragedy.
I also worked at WHTF-FM/Starview 92.7 in York/Harrisburg/Lebanon/Carlisle, PA and on 50,000-watt Top 40 powerhouse KZFM (Z95) Corpus Christi, TX
My last show was on KKBB/Bakersfield in the late '90s. I went to law school at night while doing the morning show and when I graduated my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I got divorced. I moved back home to be with my family and help out however I could.
When mom passed I started a law career in California, but always missed being on-air. When my pop got cancer two years ago, I moved back to care for him. I went to Connecticut School of Broadcasting at night and completed the program. Pop passed, and now I'm trying to land a gig.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I listen to my favorite stations and jocks and think about what they're doing and why I like them, and what I'll do when back on-air. I also do writing - like I used to - observations that I'll use as breaks when back on air. I also listen to the stations I send demos to and try to honestly evaluate whether or not I'm as good as the jocks already working there, and observe their production, contests, and social media presence.
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 missed radio almost from the beginning, though I enjoyed being able to spend time with my mom, because I knew she had only limited time of remembering I was her son. I used to talk up songs in the car and do breaks when the jocks on the Rock stations would do them, back-announcing and stuff, and say "I used to be on the radio ..." to random passersby. And when big shows like Bruce or U2 would play the Garden and Q104.3 would be giving away tickets I used to try and win them, but never did. I kind of felt like a kid with no money whose nose is pressed up against the candy store window.
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
I'd like to ride off into the sunset on-the-air.
4) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
5) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
Mornings on a Classic Rocker getting clobbered in the ratings.
6) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
Awful. Very, very few acknowledge receiving your demos and resume.
7) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I try to highlight the successful track record I've earned over 18 years. I often beat syndicated shows and stations with four and five people working against me, and put also-ran stations into contention shortly after starting there.
8) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
I was hired for mornings at KRAB/Bakersfield in the early '90s. The station was automated except for my show. A month after I started, Radio & Records wrote a front-page article calling Bakersfield "the most competitive radio market in the country, in terms of station-to-listener ratio ..." I increased our target demo of men 18-34 400% my first year and doubled or tripled all other demos. I programmed the music for my show and did the news and sports on it.
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?
Yes. I'd have no problem working on the cheap until ratings showed I deserved more.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Be willing to relocate and to start on any format, not hold out for your "dream job" when trying to break in. "You want it, you take it - you pay the price..."
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
Absolutely - "Rocking America: How the Hit Music Stations Took Over" by Rick Sklar.
If you love radio you won't put it down. It's awesome, just like Rick.