10 Questions with ... Joel Frank
January 18, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I began my commercial radio career with now-defunct WCSQ, beginning as a morning show intern and working my way to producer and fill-in co-host. I worked promotions and overnight voicetracking on WAVF. I then moved to WCOO as a weekend DJ and sales associate for WCOO and WYBB. I worked various air shifts from mornings to overnights. In the spring of 2007, I became MD and soon after APD for WCOO, converting a Classic Hits station to a Triple A.
While at WCOO, the local Arts and Entertainment Weekly, The City Paper, named WCOO the best station in Charleston 2008 and 2010. I received recognition from the Triple A Community in 2010 by being nominated as MD of the year (markets 50 +) and WCOO was nominated as station of the year (markets 50+).
1) 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.
Looking at the radio business from the outside and talking to many different radio professionals has showed me that there are a lot of people just as passionate about the business as I am. When you are in a position where you are working 60+ hours a week and working with the same industry people, you tend to forget there is a bigger world out there. I have been extremely enlightened to know that there are good ideas, good stations and good programmers all over the place.
2) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
To take any available job and own it. Learn every aspect and every department of a radio station. Plunge toilets ... be a fly on the wall of upper-level management, volunteer for any task. Be seen and be available.
3) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
The lack of courtesy regarding application and resume responses has been an eye-opener and a learning tool. When I was in a position to receive applications and resumes, I didn't always respond in a timely manner to applicants. A lot of times I just deleted e-mails or threw resumes away. I have a much different perspective on that attitude now and in the future I will always respond to an applicant even if it is a rejection.
4) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
I find it difficult to listen to the radio. In my market, the only stations that are formatted to my liking are the ones I used to work at. While I'm not bitter over my departure, I am still too close to the situation to listen for enjoyment.
5) 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?
I have not been able to relax or enjoy my time not employed. The best part of my days was the professional satisfaction I received from a well-executed promotion, having a listener tell me how I turned them on to a song or a band, or the station sales staff being able to land an account based on a pitch I worked on, or based on the lifestyle I created at the station. Sleeping in a bit later or having time to go grocery shopping while the sun is out doesn't make up for that feeling.
6) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Creating a radio station that has become important to the community of Charleston, SC. Helping make Charleston and important small market music town and working with local promoters, bookers, and musicians to build the profile of the local music scene. Guiding and training new radio talent and giving them the radio bug was extremely enjoyable to me. Creating a music festival that sold out in 2010 was a huge career milestone.
7) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
I miss working with creative people and talking music and promotions with them the most. Having people around me who enjoy the same things that I do, and being able to come together and plan big-picture events and strategies are things that I can't replace. I miss having to go to the station to fix a computer issue at 2amthe least.
8) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
I've learned that I enjoy positive stress. I was talking with someone in the business the other day and I asked them how things were going. The response was, "I wish I didn't have a job where I got stressed out all of the time." I've learned that I miss that stress and I thrive on it. I'm at my best when people need me to be at my best ... and I miss that adrenaline rush of problem solving on the fly.
9) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
I regret taking my job and influence for granted. When you are programming a small- to mid-market radio station, you have considerable influence in the community. After a while I didn't respect that and became too comfortable with myself. I would savor things a bit more the next time around.
10) How will this experience change you when you get back to work?
I will be a bit more calm and less reactionary. I've always been a "Type-A" personality who is never afraid to share my opinions. I will be a little more cautious and understanding in the future.
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
Not necessarily inspirational, but I finally got around to reading "Dream Boogie" by Peter Guralnick. It is a biography of Sam Cooke that has been sitting on my shelf for two years. It's a fantastic account of the greatest voice in popular music history.