10 Questions with ... Michael "Fin" Walter
August 16, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WOXY 1986-1988 part-time jock while in school at Miami University
- WAQZ 1991-1993 Board op / production / sales
- WEBN 1993-2004 Sales / Promotions Dir. / middays / mornings / PD / Product marketing
- WKLS 2004-2007 Middays / Production Dir., Atlanta Braves Radio Network
- WFTK 2008- PD / mMornings
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
WOXY: Part time jock while in school at Miami University - part of
The Future of Rock n Roll - Early influences included Danny Crash (Dan Reed) and the late, great Mr. K (Ken Glidewell, R.I.P)
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Walking into the control room of WLRS in Louisville in 1984 and seeing afternoon jock Brian Christopher drumming out a beat on his knee-less jeans, cueing records and realizing that he was maybe about 12 hours older than me. (Turns out it was more like two years; we became friends that day and his is now the golden voice for which I get to write to create the imaging on WFTK)
3) 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?
Edits are edits ... it is what it is ... as to the on-air dialogue the same rule applies: know the rules, know where the lines are and use your head. Protect the license at all costs and remember, it's harder to be clever than dirty -- feel free to do it the had way. (It is a little tiring to watch radio continue to get punished for the sins of TV - yes, Janet Jackson's nipple; I'm still looking at you)
4) How have music file-sharing services affected the way you program to your audience?
It's still our job to be opinion leaders and clue the audience in on what artists, songs, etc. that they should be in search of, We should be a resource and a trusted ally in the listeners' mind.
5) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
Just because there are so many places for consumers to get music doesn't mean we should just throw up our hands and concede. Hell, the WWE and the X Games have oftentimes broken as many bands/songs over the last decade as terrestrial radio. Should we just give in? No. I've heard plenty of sat and Net radio that offers niche programming but lacks any sort of appeal in between the records. The phrase, "just because you can doesn't mean you should" comes to mind on occasion. Relevance and the ability to make the local connection is still the key to what we do, in my humble opinion.
6) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
The more local market control, the better. Having your content pushed through by a Cent-Com office and populating your site with elements that obviously do not pertain to what you're actually doing/positioning on-air is, in my opinion, a dishonest underestimation of the audience.
7) How is the relationship between programmer and record label changing? For better or worse?
I have always been fortunate to have solid relationships with my label contacts and have been lucky to have worked with most of them for many years; a true rarity in our business. It's not getting any easier on either side of the equation, with so many hats being worn by so few. As long as we all understand that, we'll be fine.
8) Describe your weekly music meeting ... a) what is the process when you listen to new music? b) approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play, and chart position when determining the status of a record?
I try to listen to everything that comes across my desk and give it an initial rating on my own "gut" scale. I'll revisit at a later date to see if I still feel the same way about the record, for better or worse. Chart positions, etc. don't carry as much weight with me as does my 20 years living in Cincinnati amongst the radio faithful.
9) What's your take on current music? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
I think that the current "rock" offering is as strong as it's been in some time. The retro influence a lot of artists are experimenting with, combined with the risks that quite a few new bands are taking make for a more texturally interesting playlist than we've had over the last decade. I like the fact that "rock" can't be pigeonholed into one specific sound, no matter how hard some stations try to make it so. If we're not challenging the audience as to the parameters of "rock," we're failing them; whether they know it or not.
10) How often do you do remotes and which work best for the station?
We try to keep a very high profile on the streets. While others, across formats are reducing their street presence, we are seizing every opportunity we can to be out and 'in touch'
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
Gave out my social security number on the air once as it was very similar to a phone number I was supposed to be giving out.
What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
Pay-for-play weekends to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Autism Society of Cincinnati
What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
Warped Tour -- getting to see the simplicity with which it's presented from the stage(s) and the passion with which it's consumed by the audience did a lot to reinvigorate my belief in the future of the genre as well as understand the disposable nature of all of it at the same time.
Please describe the best or worst promotion you've ever been part of?
Two words: Gary Willis - twice - see link
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
"Never miss a chance to shut up" is the best