10 Questions with ... Curtiss Johnson
May 1, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
KPRI/San Diego; KZAP/Sacramento; KUPD, KUKQ/Phoenix, KRXQ, KWOD, KSEG/Sacramento. I started programming in 1985 at KUPD/Phoenix.
1) What was your first job in radio?
At 19 I started as an intern at KPRI and spent every moment I could there. In a couple months I was productions assistant and weekends.
Programmers: Ernesto Gladden, Jesse Bullit. For jocks it was Jim McInnes, Bob Coburn and Jim Ladd.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I loved music from an early age. I was the kid trolling the misc. section at Tower Records to find new bands. I got the biggest rush out of turning friends on to them and then, hopefully, watching them get big. The "it" moment for me was sitting in the air studio that first day at KPRI and watching Les Tracy on-air. I was hooked
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now, what you didn't then, would you still do it?
At that time, certainly, I've had a very fulfilling career (34 years so far). If it were 2012? No.
4) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I would probably work in the motorcycle industry. I raced moto-cross as a teenager. Turned pro at 15 and by 18 realized I was a mid-pack national pro and was never going earn a real living riding.
5) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Sacramento's mindset has one foot in California and one foot in the Midwest. It's small-town conservative, yet progressive in other ways. So I've always programmed my stations in this market with a good solid core of what's expected from the format, but still felt comfortable and confident in taking chances with the tenor of the station socially and musically.
6) 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?
None whatsoever with The Eagle. It's pretty family-friendly. Outside of Mark & Brian we're not what you would call a "Beer and T&A" Classic Rock station.
When I was programming KRXQ. on the other hand, yes. That station was/is high-personality aimed squarely at guys and there were constant conversations on were we felt that fine line was.
7) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
In many markets and within some companies, sadly, there's not much difference. Many sound canned and generic. I'm fortunate in that Entercom lets a lot of our programmers actually program their stations. I've always felt that good radio stations should strive to be the epicenter for the life-group they target in the area they serve. Gone are the days when rock fans went to Rolling Stone magazine or their local radio station to find out what was going on. Technology has changed that, as well as many radio companies regionalizing or nationalizing formats.
But in many ways, technology allows radio to still be that epicenter, especially with social media tools and the skill and dedication to use them correctly. I'm proud to say that the Eagle is definitely a Sacramento station and the place Classic Rock fans in Northern California go to find out what's going on culturally and with the music they love. I'm sure a vast majority of the fans of the station would agree with that statement.
8) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
Ten years ago that was a tough question. Today, it's almost impossible to say. I would say keep looking up the road, be nimble and willing to adapt ... FAST!
9) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
That's a whole article in itself....
10) How is the relationship between programmer and record label changing? For better or worse?
Record labels are still around? I say that tongue-in-cheek because I'm out of that loop, programming just Classic Rock for the last three years, but prior to that I was already starting to work more directly with the management companies and in some cases, the bands themselves.
What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Radio doesn't nurture talent any longer. We're not dedicating resources to developing unique content.
What's your take on current music? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
Current mainstream rock is dead in the water or at least enough to support the major radio format it once was. That's probably true for a lot of traditional current-based radio formats. There is still some great music being made, but it's hard fit enough of any of it into the sizable coalitions that the business of radio wants and needs.
If you could add any one full-time position to your budget with no questions asked, what would it be?
A director of digital programming and social media.