10 Questions with ... Dan Carlisle
March 1, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first media job was at ABC O&O WXYZ in Detroit, television and radio. I was the newswire boy. WXYZ was a destination Top 40 station in the '60s. I figured once in the door, I was on my way. My first radio show was on Michigan State University all-campus radio. My first commercial job was in Springfield, MA. Then my career exploded with my first dream job in Green Bay, WI as afternoon jock playing the latest Top 40 smash hits. I was fired in Green Bay and told I had no talent etc. ... get out of the business, the GM said. I did, and went back to Michigan and worked construction to save money for school ... and heard WABX playing a couple of hours of underground radio. I applied and got the job as part of the first full-time staff. Then ...WKNR and WRIF/Detroit, WLS-F/Chicago, KLOS and KROQ/Los Angeles, WNEW/New York, KSAN and KFOG/San Francisco, Sirius/New York ... a little bit of television ... produced a bit of Talk radio for CBS ... did a few more forgettable stations ... sold some cars ... and here I am.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I love radio and just thinking about working again usually lifts my spirits. I am not a down person normally, so that helps.
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 love this question ... without any bias towards any station, I feel radio has no buzz here in SF. Listening across the dial, you won't find any surprises or WOW programming going on. I don't believe programmers are all dull people -- just limited by being over-researched and being led by sales. However, one shining light specializing in over-the-cliff radio does exist in San Francisco and that is college radio station KALX. Some really cool and some really obscure music etc. ... believe again when I hear it. These are shows done by the people. Maybe programmers should listen once in a while and get a bit braver.
3) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
Right now is the longest stretch ... five years. I haven't really tried very hard to get work in a couple of years. Once in a while I reach out. I have received several hints from PD types that maybe I am too old or too experienced, blah, blah.
4) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I think commercial radio could offer a few musical surprises during the day. I like how they mix in some fun musical surprises on THE SOUND in LA. I think they could do it more actually. I would like my next station to engage me in the process of picking music. Just ask my opinion once in a while.
5) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
"Courtesy Level" is not how I would describe the experience these days. Mostly just silence from stations that are asking for airchecks, etc. ... they don't care.
6) What's the most unbelievable question you've ever been asked in an interview?
I was working at a station in Los Angeles back in the mid-'70s and the national PD for the chain took me out for a drink and during our conversation he said, "Are you a fag? I heard you are a fag, but still a nice guy."
7) Are you able to slow down and enjoy free time doing things with your family and friends that you probably did not have time to do while you were working?
For me, not working has made me less enthusiastic about adventure. Plus there is the budget side of not working that usually doesn't include running wild.
8) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Being part of the late-'60s wave of radio people who helped to reform music radio and make it more artist-friendly.
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?
I always try and weigh the value of the experience with the money. As long as I don't feel used and abused. Less money can be compensated by having more freedom of expression on the air and I will take that deal anytime.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
Hmmmm ... sometimes I wish I was back in Michigan or the Midwest. Then I think, no, I want to be back in New York or Los Angeles. So, I would settle for being in the right place at the right time.
Uh oh ... now you're on your own for getting new music. If applicable, name your three most recent purchases since leaving the biz.
Bought some remastered Beatle albums, The Best Of Charlie Parker, The EELs, Dion's greatest hits, Cream reunion concert, and a few others. I am always buying music or on YouTube watching something.