10 Questions with ... John Perry
June 7, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1981-1985 WBSD 89.1/Burlington High School radio sStation
- 1986-1988 WJZQ 95.1/Kenosha, WI
- 1988-1989 WMIR 1550-A/Lake Geneva, WI
- 1989-1989 WXQR 105.5/Jacksonville, NC
- 1989-1992 WQFM 93.3/Milwaukee
- 1992-2011 WIIL 95.1/Pleasant Prairie, WI
1. What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
First real job in radio was programming "Otto," the automation for WJZQ in Kenosha. The same signal that is now WIIL, my station now. My first influence was working at WBSD, on the high school radio station. Terry Havel was the instructor at the time and if not for him, I would not be working in the radio biz. Tom Kief, who is the current morning host on WIIL ROCK, was also on the high school station at the time ... and he convinced me to come and work on WBSD. Had it not been for those two people early on, I would most likely be doing something different right now.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
There never really was a defining moment where I said, "This Is It." I have always loved being a part of this business. I've been extremely fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for many of the opportunities that have been given to me. If I look back, there is not one moment that lead me to the career but there were many little moments or opportunities that opened up and I was there ready for the challenge.
3) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I would have been a tradesman. I still love building stuff; few people know that I'm a woodcrafter on the weekends -- when I have time, of course.
4) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
We really are the only Rock radio station playing both current Mainstream and current Active Rock music between Milwaukee and Chicago. The area between Milwaukee and Chicago is jammed with Classic Rock, Alternative Rock, Modern Rock and Soft Rock stations. WIIL ROCK's niche is to super-serve both the Classic Rocker and the New Music Lover. We embrace the "Black T-Shirt" audience with our unique blend of classics and currents. Geographically, we super-serve the northern suburbs of Chicago. We're highly involved in the local community; we spend a lot of time being active and visible at any and all events within our listening area. We also have a heritage morning show; Tom Kief from Tom & Lisa Morning show has been doing mornings on this signal for almost 20 years.
5) How have the recent FCC regulations impacted the way you program your music and the station's dialogue on the air? What are your feelings about these recent changes?
It hasn't really had much of an impact on our stations at all. We've educated our jocks so they know what they can and cannot say or do on the air, but we were pretty tight before the recent changes/guidelines were put in to place. Our morning show has always pushed the envelope, but also using "innuendo" to keep it clean or kid-friendly. If something is really raunchy, we have a "listener discretion" advisory that we air before the bit is played. We air a feature called the "420 Hit Of The Day" where we play a new song and listeners call and "Puff" or "Pass" on the song. We air the "Listener Discretion Advisory" before this segment and we also say ..."no one under the age of 18 is allowed to vote."
6) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
Terrestrial radio is still winning the battle overall. There are a few key channels on satellite and a few good web-based stations that are making a good impression but overall, local terrestrial radio is still KING. There is nothing that satellite or web-based radio is doing that is blowing the doors off the barn! Like I said, there are a handful of shows that are making a mark, but nothing is creating the buzz that would supposedly close down terrestrial radio forever.
7) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
I believe the industry will be thriving five years from now. Print is going away and a lot of those ad dollars are already going to radio. The radio station website is where most of our growth will be. Radio stations are just getting started with regards to revenue from the web. For me personally, I hope to still be programming WIIL ROCK; I love this gig! I'm also guessing I'll get another e-mail from Doug at All Access saying, "Hey, ya know it's been about five years since you did that '15 Questions' thing, can you find the time to do the questionnaire again?"
8) What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole?
The key to any website is fresh information daily, hourly or up to the minute. Your site has to be alive with new content from everyone on your staff and from your listeners, tie the website into everything you do on the air. Also, video everything! The listeners wanna see everything you do now, not just hear it. Someone always has a hand-held cam, an iPod or a cell phone shooting video and uploading it to Facebook and our website.
One of our latest website features is to do a "Site Takeover." When we have a band perform in "95 WIIL ROCK Studio East," a professional video company comes in and broadcasts bands live on the web (video) and on the air/stream. The normal website page is replaced with our video player with the band in our studio. Listeners who don't win passes can watch the entire performance from their computer live as it happens. We also capture the videos for our "Rocktube" page for future viewing. Some of the video's have close to 500,000 views!
9) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff?
Mark The Shark on TK101 in Pensacola, FL is an amazing jock! I have always thought his on-air persona to be one of the best in the biz. He's a great artist interviewer; he relates to the audience on and off the air and has something to say every break. Jocks like Shark are missing from radio; gone are the days when rock jocks were real individuals who lived the format. All formats are guilty of manufacturing talent into liner card-reading, strip club-puking jocks who can't form an original thought. Shark is just a normal dude, with above-normal intellect and talent. Sadly, people like Shark rarely follow the radio career path anymore. (Mark, can you delete those pictures now?)
10) What was the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
This actually happened to our news girl on our AM station, WLIP. She was introducing the Stock Report guy who was on the phone ready to give the latest stocks. The on-air computer was a touch-screen computer and she must have had a little spit hit the screen and fire off a morning show drop that repeated at least three times before she was able to figure out what was happening. It was a 3 Stooges drop that wen t..."Quiet, numskulls, I'm broadcasting." She didn't miss a beat and was able to pull the Stooges audio down and finish the intro for the Stocks.
What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
ROTR was awesome! Kinda reminded me of the old Conclave days when all of the label reps and radio people would get together and lie to each other about how great their artists and radio stations were. :)
What are your three favorite artists or songs of this year?
Avenged Sevenfold, Seether, Theory Of A Deadman
What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
That 95% of your success is attributed to your ATTITUDE; the other 7% is math.
Favorite artist you have met?
The guys in Pop Evil are about as real as it gets. Black Stone Cherry, Jesse from Jackyl, Royal Bliss, Stereoside and the guys from Rehab are all down to earth, easy-to-talk-to people. These are all guys you wanna have a beer and a shot with.
In your opinion, what is the greatest song ever that never made it as a hit?
I don't know about a specific song but there was a band called Familiar 48 in the early 2000s that I thought had a great record. I still listen to it. I wish they would have done a couple more.
Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without my...
DIET CHERRY COKE