10 Questions with ... Suzy Cole
October 2, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1998 - 2000 - WKLQ
- 2000 - 2001 - WGRD
- 2001 - 2001 - WYVN
- 2001 - 2002 - WWDX
- 2002 - 2005 - WGRD
- 2005 - Present - WRIF
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
When I initially got into radio, it was kind of a brilliant fluke. I had met the Promotions Dir. of WKLQ (the fantastic Steve Brancik) when I asked him for Warped Tour tickets at a station event (I HAD to see the Descendents and didn't have the money). He gave me the tickets and I always hooked him up with popcorn at the movie theatre I worked at. One day I called him up and asked for a job. He told me I had to start as an intern but that he'd love to have me. So that's what I did. I worked my way up starting as a high school intern. I realized right away that I wanted to work in the music industry for the rest of my life. (My mom likes to bring out the old cassettes I made as a kid where I talked between songs on my own mix tapes ... I guess whether I knew it or not, this was what I was meant to do!)
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Absolutely! I'd probably give younger me a few pointers, but I don't regret anything. Like everyone, I have had some bad experiences over the years, but have been blessed with other experiences that have been so amazing that it outshines anything negative. Getting to work at WRIF and Greater Media really has been like a dream! I have a great company backing me that believes in this incredibly strong and branded radio station that has the most amazing staff I have ever known.
3) How long have you been at WRIF and what are your main responsibilities there?
I have been at WRIF for almost eight years. I am the APD/MD. I help with all of the day-to-day programming of the radio station as well as staff management, all of the social media marketing and I program our HD side channel RIFF2.
4) Tell us about your working relationship with PD Mark Pennington. Do you do a lot of the "heavy lifting" in regards to music decisions, or are those decisions a good balance of both of you?
If you could imagine all of the best qualities a human could have and put them in a boss, you'd get Mark Pennington. He's smart, funny and passionate about the radio station, his staff and the music. As for music decisions, it really is a collaborative effort. We both listen to music all of the time and the back and forth is really easy and comfortable.
5) You do weekends and fill in on the station. Do you enjoy being on the air?
I do enjoy being on the air. Sometimes I miss being on every day ... and the there are times that I am glad that I'm not! (Ha ha) I do a weekend shift so that I can still be connected to the audience and can also empathize and understand where the rest of the air staff is at. That ... and I'm pretty opinionated and like getting on a soapbox once a week or so!
6) Let's talk about the music on WRIF. Being this is a long time heritage station; I'm sure keeping the longtime upper-demo listeners happy is important, but how do you do that and also engage the younger WRIF listeners?
WRIF is not just a Detroit radio station. WRIF is a Detroit institution. It has been rockin' the Motor City for over 41 years. Because of that heritage, there are people who live and breathe WRIF. We work with Jacobs Media to make sure that our music is reflecting what both our upper demo and our younger listeners want to hear (as well as those in between). WRIF is also 100% live, 24-7, with real local jocks in the studio who are passionate and knowledgeable about Detroit, our listeners and everything that is going on. Everyone works hard to interact with as many listeners as possible, whether it's on the request line, Facebook, text, Twitter, e-mail etc. ... so that we can make sure that we are attending to their music and news needs.
7) What's your take on current music in the Active Rock format? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
I have been pretty excited about a lot of the current music in the Active Rock format for quite a few months. There is strong batch of music out right now! Slash, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Halestorm, Volbeat, Linkin Park, Stone Sour ... not to mention new Soundgarden, Deftones, Three Days Grace and Green Day.
8) How does your station utilize social media as a marketing tool?
We use social media to further the WRIF brand. We try to tell stories and communicate with our listeners via Facebook, Twitter, and e-Emails etc. Instead of just barking at them about a promotion, the WRIF staff and I all try to get them to bark at us. A lot of times, we'll start the conversation and it'll go somewhere else which is totally fine. We use our social media at WRIF to connect as opposed to just inform.
9) Tell us about a unique promotion that WRIF has recently done that was impactful for the listeners and the station?
We just had our 3rd Annual Rocktoberfest last week. It's WRIF's version of a Beerfest with music, games, sports, fraulines, food and, of course, BEER! This year we got Slash to come and open up the event with a rare, live, public Q&A. As you can imagine, our listeners were all excited to be that close to a guitar god. People from all over the Detroit area got there early and waited patiently to get a chance to ask Slash a question. We also got people registered for a chance to meet Slash and win an autographed guitar as well as being part of the Q&A. Slash was awesome (per usual) and the listeners couldn't have been happier. We heard about it for the rest of the day at the event from multiple people who came just for Slash and stayed for the party. Being able to connect our listeners with their favorite bands/musicians and getting to see the joy that it brings them really helps you remember another reason why we all do this.
10) Detroit is a huge sports town. How much involvement does WRIF have with the local sports teams?
WRIF does a lot with the sports teams. We do tailgating parties around home games as well as viewing parties for some away games. Players, coaches, announcers and analysts call in to Drew & Mike in the Morning all of the time to talk about events, games and everything else so we're pretty connected.
What do you do for fun away from your rock and work life?
What is "away from your Rock and Work life" like? Ha hah. Just kidding. I go to a lot of shows that are "off the books" -- Alternative, Indie and local bands. I'm also a movie junkie, so I go to the theatre usually once a week and have an awesome Netflix queue!
What is the best live band you've seen this year?
Guns N Roses. I went to the show that they did here at The Fillmore in Detroit. I muscled my way up front and got pretty vaclempt when I was four feet away from Axl Rose sitting at that grand piano, singing "November Rain." I've been a lifelong fan of that man, and never thought I'd get to see him in a non arena venue. I was on GNR cloud nine for like a month after that.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- David Bowie -- Scary Monsters
- Guns N Roses -- Appetite For Destruction
- Bob Dylan -- Highway 61 Revisited
- Motley Crue -- Shout At The Devil
- The Pixies -- Doolittle