10 Questions with ... Walt Flakus
May 29, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
In a past life, I was a founding member of the band Stabbing Westward. We put out a couple of Gold records and toured the world, but all things must come to an end. When we called it a day, I went back to radio as MD/nights at WHRL/Albany, then on to XM Satellite Radio where I was MD of Ethel and Fred. I spent about five years at Q Prime before coming home to Chicago and WLUP!
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I grew up listening to the great WLS back in the day. After listening to John "Records" Landecker and Larry Lujack, I knew I wanted to do this radio thing. Fresh out of high school, I started driving an hour in any direction to work part-time at a couple of Top 40 stations. I kinda miss those Sunday mornings with Casey Kasem.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
I don't think I would have a choice. I'm a music guy. I'm either playing music in a band or on the radio.
3) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
I'm open to anything, as long as it doesn't involve heights, spiders or brussel sprouts. Maybe I should just stick to radio.
4) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
The Loop has an unrivaled 35-year history in the market. Very few others in the market can say that, maybe 'XRT. It's so amazing to work at the station you grew up listening to. I can still remember Sky Daniels turning me on to Billy Thorpe's "Children of the Sun."
5) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
Websites need to be the portal for your audience. Chances are, your listeners spend as much time online as you do. Hell, you're online right now. Make your website a destination that your listeners want to come back to every day. Keep your blogs fresh and the info current. We've become information junkies! Give your listeners the info they're interested in. Plus, your website adds another dimension to your on-air work.
6) Besides your own, what is your favorite radio format?
It may sound crazy but I really think Alternative is on an upward trend. The music is melodic and exciting and reminds me a lot of the early 2000s, when we were exposing bands like Franz Ferdinand and Arcade Fire on Ethel at XM.
7) What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
I'd have to give this nod to Van Halen and their second show in Chicago at the Allstate Arena. They really seemed to be firing on all cylinders. That said, Roger Waters at Wrigley Field is right around the corner.
8) Tell us what music we would find on your car or home CD player (or turntable) right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Right now, I have the Clash's London Calling on the turntable. Man ... nothing beats the sound of a needle dropping on a record. What a great album, start to finish.
9) How do you stay in touch with the latest music trends?
Man, I'm a social media junkie! I love reading a post from one of my friends with a link to check out a new band or watch a video from an event.
10) 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?
You have to make time. It's so important to be prepared and have your finger on the pulse before you open the mic. Switching hats from music scheduling or promotion scheduling to doing on-air work is talent in itself. Not easy.
Favorite artist you have met?
It still seems surreal to think that Jimmy Page was once asking me about my Gold Stabbing Westward records, but it happened.
What was the first song or full-length release you purchased?
I feel like I've always had a "record player" as a kid. The first single I remember buying was "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" by Brownsville Station. That's kinda cool, but my second 45 was Terry Jacks "Seasons In The Sun." I probably shouldn't have said that, uhh?
What is your longest music sweep?
We're doing 97@9 twice a day. Music sweeps to bookend the day.