10 Questions with ... Jack Alexander
March 29, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first radio gig was when I was 14, where Tuesday afternoon I would go to my local AM station to read the weekly livestock auction results for my parent's auction business. I served 10 years in the Australian army, seeing deployments to the Sinai, Somalia, and Desert Storm. My army career ended after being injured in a mid-air collision of two Blackhawks during a training exercise. After the army I started writing and supplying character voices to various breakfast shows in Sydney and Melbourne. After consolidation started in Australian radio, it was hard to get work, so I built one of Australia's first Internet radio stations. My original online broadcasting business was destroyed in the Australian wildfires of February 2009, just as I was starting to try to break into the USA Talk radio market. I spent six years as an online producer and contributor to America Tonight with Kate Delaney
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
Keeping positive for me is simple. Ten years ago, I when I was having trouble getting work in radio, I took some advice from the Gene Simmons book "Speaking in Tongues." In the book, the KISS front man spoke about investing in the things you are passionate about. With that in mind, and the support and patience of my wife, I built what would become one of the first streaming Internet radio stations in Australia. So even now I'm not away from radio and regardless of how low I might feel, as soon as that mic gets hot, that passion wells up and magic happens.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
In my down time, I still have my online radio station to keep my skills fresh, and that has allowed me the freedom to experiment in the format and delivery style of the talk show I want to bring to U.S. radio stations. I also have recently invested in an older ex-rental Tricaster video production and streaming system and started experimenting with doing my radio talk show to camera, similar to what Alex Jones is doing, but with my own unique spin. My 16-year-old son Alex is passionate about getting into voice acting, so it's been a great time for some father/son bonding as I train him in the use of the studio's equipment, along with coaching and directing him in the vocal booth.
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
Absolutely, even if it's just part time or as a volunteer at a community station. I just can't imagine a time when there wouldn't be some sort of radio in my life.
4) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
Invest in yourself so you can build your skill set. It could be building an Internet station like I did, find a community college course in broadcasting, volunteer at your local community station ... the list is only limited by you. Be passionate about the medium and where you want your career to go. Showing your passion for the medium will always get you attention by the bosses at stations. Anyone can be trained to drive the broadcast console, but it's the passion of the host that makes great radio. But the most important thing is to find a great mentor to take that passionate diamond in the rough and polish your on-air delivery. I was blessed to have Kate Delaney, the host of the syndicated late night talk show America Tonight, take me under her wing. For six fantastic years, Kate mentored me as I worked as a contributor and the online producer for the show. A good mentor will not only tell you when you are doing great, but verbally "Gibbs slap" you when your ego gets in the way.
5) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
Subscribe to all of the industry magazines, newsletters, blogs and websites like All Access. I think I'm subscribed to seven or eight. Also, get to as many industry conferences as your budget allows. These events allow you to meet with not only other hosts, but you get to meet station and network execs.
6) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
In 2009, I attended my first Talkers New Media conference. I boldly walked up to Michael Harrison, the head of Talkers Magazine and TRN, and introduced myself as "The most unique host on U.S. radio." Yes, it was ballsy, maybe a little arrogant, but what it did was get his attention. Mind you, Mr. Harrison is not a stranger to hosts approaching him looking for an opening and immediately asked me to justify my statement. Glad I was prepared.
7) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I just want a foot in the door. I believe I can give any station willing to take the risk a syndication-worthy show, and I would love to be doing it at a small family or small company-run station. I'm not looking for a station to be a stepping stone. Modern technology now allows hosts the freedom of creating syndicated content without having to move to the big city stations. I'm a country boy and I love living the small town life.
8) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
I have to say that I have found the courtesy levels of HR managers to be pathetic; about 90% of the positions I have applied for didn't even acknowledge receipt of my application materials. Maybe 5% have set up automated responding e-mails for your applications, but only one station bothered to send an e-mail advising me that I was unsuccessful.
9) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
I have been blessed to work on great shows, but the greatest was the six years when I was the online producer and contributor on America Tonight with Kate Delaney. It's the vehicle that gave me my first major exposure to audiences in the U.S. That sort of syndicated program is not common on Australian radio.
10) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
In five years, I hope I'm at a great regional or rural station, and have my talk show in syndication. I would also like to be involved in station management, seeking out and mentoring the next generation of great hosts.
In 10 years time, I hope I'll be the first host that station managers around the U.S. will look to have on their schedule when the trailblazers likes of Rush, Levin, and others retire and leave the airwaves.
Care to contribute a recipe for our "On The Beach" cookbook?
Okay, here is my Creamy 3 Mushroom, Blue Cheese & Salmon Pasta
(not for those on a diet) Serves 4
1 cup each of fresh shitaki, small button and oyster mushrooms (or any varieties in season)
3 oz of crumbled blue cheese (I recommend any cheese with Rockforte mold strain, if you are really brave, Limburger)
1 lb fresh flat pasta eg: fettuccine or taglatelli. (works with any other pasta)
1 cup sour cream (lite sour cream to make it a little more diet friendly)
4 oz smoked salmon sliced or diced the way you like it (cold smoked is best but hot smoked works great too)
Prepare the pasta in salted boiling water, drain and keeping the water for later use
Thinly slice the mushrooms and sweat in a pan on a high heat with a little olive oil.
Add sour cream and crumbled blue cheese till cheese melts into the sauce.
Add pasta water to bring the sauce to your desired consistency
Stir in the pasta ensuring the sauce is evenly coating the noodles
Then immediately before serving either stir in the salmon or plate the pasta and garnish with the smoked salmon.