10 Questions with ... Kevin Conklin
February 7, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WRKR (on-air); April 2006-August 2008
- WZUU (afternoons/imaging); August 2008-December 2010
- KCLB (APD/MD/Imaging/Afternoons); December 2010-present
- Askmen.com (Freelance contributor) August 2008-present
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Weekends on WRKR/Kalamazoo, MI. Here is how it went: The slogan is "Kalamazoo's Rock Station 107.7 RKR." I was back-selling Pink Floyd's "Money" at 6:05a on a Sunday my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was ready to nail it ... then I said "Kalamazoo's R---" ... nothing. "Kalamazoo's Rock S----" ... nothing. It took me 20 seconds to realize the headphones were turned all the way down. Only two people were listening; my brother and my PD.
My biggest influence was and continues to be my first PD Mark Keady (Jay Deacon). He put me on the air at WRKR when I had no experience, coached me until I took a job at a competing station, and continued to offer direction when we were fighting for the same shares. I didn't realize it at the time, but he also created a unique culture among the staff that is rare.
2) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Work hard without the ego and people will notice. It will pay off. The person you meet today could open a door for you tomorrow.
3) In today's world of multi-tasking and wearing many hats, how do you find time to show prep and what sources do you use?
There is no easy way. I schedule music, produce sweepers and prep my show. Before I go on the air, I know what I'm going to say and do each time I open the microphone that day so the prep has to be very detailed. It's a big deal to me and allows me to accomplish other things while I'm on the air. How do I find the time? I don't - I make time by coming in early and leaving late. The day isn't over until the body of work is done. The clock is obsolete.
Content sources like Twitter Trends, local blogs, and local TV/newspaper websites are helpful. I use rock news sites like BLABBERMOUTH, antimusic, and ultimate-guitar. General stories I use Daily Mail, Fark, and Huffington Post. Finally, I'll scan a prep service. The last thing I want is to talk about the same things someone talked about, with the same perspective. I'm not a slave to the prep service.
4) What is your favorite radio station outside of the market and why?
I listen to radio ALL the time. I stream a new market almost every day while scheduling music. One that shines in my eyes is Project 961 in Atlanta. They have a "family" mentality that can be heard throughout their shows, imaging and audience. When I listen, I feel like I belong to something. They're close (maybe already there by this posting) to 100,000 likes on Facebook and people seem to have an unwavering loyalty to that brand.
5) Besides your own, what is your favorite radio format?
Close friends and coworkers will be surprised by this: Country. I don't like the music but that format always seems to flow so well. Maybe growing up in the Midwest where B93 covers almost half the country has something to do with it. The jocks are usually flawless and very polished.
6) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff?
In my quest to listen to every Rock radio station in the country I've found some very interesting shows and personalities, but nothing has stuck with me as much as the guys I listened to out of Kalamazoo while growing up. They were stars in my eyes. Specifically, Glen Dillon from WKFR and Shaffee from WRKR. Glen always made me and my mom laugh on the way to school when I was a kid. Shaffee came on later, but I hear some of him in each and everyone of my airchecks. I can't get away from it.
7) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
I'm not qualified to tell anyone where any industry will be in any amount of time. If I were, then I would be in the wrong industry. I do know that I have met countless creative minds in radio who have a passion for what they do and will continue to churn out ideas for the span of their career. As long as those people exist, I think we will be okay. We may not get rich, but we'll have fun doing it.
On a personal level, if I was asked this question a year ago I would have said something along the lines of "in the biggest market possible, as high up as possible". Now I've come to realize having a staff that cares about the goal and genuinely respects one another is the most important thing. The mutual respect brings out a much better product and having that is becoming a top priority of mine.
8) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
Putting a schedule on the home page of exactly when items will be given away. People will listen if there is an instant benefit to them. Sharing the exact times will encourage more appointments for the smaller stuff we discard as show fillers. It would require each show to prep more and post daily, but the work would pay off. Also, update your damn blog! Nothing says, "I don't care," more than going to a jock page and seeing a post from two years ago.
9) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I'd be moving my way up at Home Improvement Salvage in Paw Paw, MI. I loved that job. Selling carpet, furniture, cabinetry and paint was my gig. I'm not lying when I said I loved it. It was a lot of fun and the people were close family friends. Every Christmas I miss that Christmas bonus check more and more.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No. I'm not a big believer in "everything happens for a reason" but as I progress through my career and life I'm starting to see how things could've been. I've been offered jobs at stations then had the offer revoked due to budget changes only to see that station flip formats the next year. There have been gigs that I wanted and didn't get. Had I went any of those routes I wouldn't be here at KCLB enjoying life as much as I am.
Tell us what music we would find in your car or iPod right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
The new Lamb of God record. A lot of people can't stand that heavy of music, but I've always been a fan and respect a band that hasn't tried to make the transition to radio. They do what they do better than anyone else. Do that and you'll be successful!
What is a typical day like in your position?
Get to work at 8a. Schedule music for two hours. Go to meetings. Prep show. Schedule show. Talk to record reps if time. Image until I go on the air. Start show. Image while doing show. End show. Image more. Go home around 7p, on a short day.
How did you get your present job?
I saw an opening on AllAccess and hounded Jen Shevlin with e-mails daily. I put show content, imaging pieces, weather reports and anything I could come up with to put in a message. I think she hired me just so I would stop e-mailing her.
What do you do in your spare time?
I hike, run, read and watch TV. The Coachella Valley has tons of hiking trails and spots I like to frequent. I'm a health nut so the running and exercise is a big part of my routine. I read every chance I can -- rock bios right now. When I can, I veg out on the couch and watch Pawn Stars. I hate that I love that show.
How often do you aircheck your own shows? Is it mandatory that you run tape everyday? Also, can you honestly critique yourself?
I aircheck myself every day by choice. I have a folder of every show I've done at KCLB. I also compile an aircheck every month for those "rainy" days. I'm my harshest critic, but I like hearing other opinions. I know I'm still young in my career. There are people who have been successful for longer than I am old. Those opinions that matter the most.