Johnald "Batman" Ronaldson
April 1, 2016
Winston Churchill once said that "success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." Well, no one has been more enthusiastic about failing than Johnald "Batman" Ronaldson. "Batman," as his friends refuse to call him, is a radio lifer out on parole at WTF-A, a man who casts a large shadow in this market, at least until he joins Weight Watchers. Here, Johnald (the "t" is silent) shares his insight in how he achieve miniscule ratings with maximum effort.
Johnald, let's start by telling us a little about yourself.
I've always had a passion for radio and I remember as a kid, sleeping in bed with my transistor radio, listening to WLS in Chicago, CHUM out of Toronto, KDAY and Cousin Brucie on WABC. I really caught the bug.
Yep, the Radio Bug. I think that's how we al...
No, Tropheryma whipplei. Got it from a school lunch tray and was laid up 7th-12th grade with Whipple Disease. Got a big settlement from the district on my 18th birthday, which I parlayed into buying WTF.
They'd been in receivership when the Radio For The Deaf network went under in '75 after that scandal about offering paper adds in sign language, so I got it for a song. Literally. I'd bought the staff the Sgt. Barry Sadler music catalogue which I then spun off to Jim Stafford. That's when I got WTF.
I hear you! You've made some interesting programming choices that have a lot of people buzzing. "The Most Music At-Work Fax Network, With The Always 185 Songs-An-Hour Guarantee." How are you able to play 185 songs in 60 minutes?
They're very short songs, Joel. Also it helps to perpetually play "Name That Song," too.
Tell us a little about your talent lineup. Are you one of the stations that's still live and local in the mornings?
Yep, Stu Live and Skip Local. They're in their 20th year with WTF-A. Really amazing guys who have grown with the station as we've evolved. Very connected to the community and were the driving force behind the radiothon a few years ago when the Hurricane Mills boys track team all got ringworm in the showers. Helped get them back on the feet.
In a market like yours, having two big stars right there, able to go out and connect with the audience, that must be a powerful marketing tool.
Oh, no. They're not actually here. They track the show from our HD station on Guam. But they know this market like the back of their Google Maps.
How has social media integrated with the station?
At this point Facebook really feels like a fad so I'm hesitant to put too much effort into it. But that could change if it demonstrates some sustainability. I really dig that "poke" thing.
Any music that you're excited about that other programmers should be watching for?
I'm thinking that Savage Garden and Blessid Union Of Souls are way overdue for hits.
Being in Tennessee, Taylor Swift must be a huge favorite in your parts.
I know some stations have started jumping on her songs but I don't hear it. When she actually gets a hit and I can see some research that shows otherwise, then we'll find a place on the playlist for her. Right now it feels risky and premature.
Any advice you can pass along to young broadcasters?
"It's not payola if you don't play the song!"
What can you tell All Access readers that they might not know about you?
I was on the original PPM Advisory Board and, this, this no one really knows, but in 1984, Billy Squier's tour bus was at the big truck stop out by the interstate and I was there grabbing some lunch. We came to talking and he was saying that he had this wonderful new song but was missing a hook for the video. So right there near the pie case, I showed him some dance moves I'd worked up for the big 8th grade dance but, you know, the whole Whipple thing, I'd never got to use. Dang if he didn't use them in his "Rock Me Tonight" video! Whatever became of Billy Squier?
Thanks Johnald! Continued success.