10 Questions with ... Scott Segelbaum
January 8, 2013
1. How did you get into the radio business and when and where did you begin your career?
I started a 10-watt non-commercial radio station in my high school. After graduation, a young punk named Andy Bloom took over my station. I realized Andy knew more than I would ever know about radio and we became great friends. Fast forward eight years, Andy became PD of WYSP in Philadelphia and dared me to take the Promotions job. I loved Minneapolis and never wanted to leave. Andy and I were very competitive so I had to take his dare. As we kept saying to each other, "What's the worse that can happen ... we end up back in Mom's basement?" I ended up working for over two decades in radio.
2. Why did you choose Marketing and Promotion as your career path?
Good question ... because I'm a glutton for punishment...I love pressure and I like to be yelled at. Seriously, I always had a passion for music, radio, advertising and marketing; I couldn't believe they actually had jobs doing that professionally.
3. You were the Dir./Marketing and Promotion for Classic Rock KLSX/Los Angeles when Howard Stern was first syndicated in mornings there. What was that like and how did you introduce and market him to Southern California listeners?
I had some experience with marketing Howard, since WYSP was the first syndicated Howard market in 1986, so we had a template. It just happened so much faster in L.A. than Philadelphia. We used to say it was the equivalent of detonating a nuclear bomb. Don Buchwald and Howard Stern are two of the most brilliant marketers in the world. A natural reaction to introducing a new show in the market is to set up a media blitz with Howard. Don subscribed to the "less is more" philosophy. Don't do interviews. Don't do appearances. Keep building demand so when Howard finally does come to town (once he reaches #1), the media will be begging to be a part of it. It was genius. When Howard finally came to jaded Los Angeles, the crowds were so huge that Hollywood & Vine had to be closed down due to the mobs of people outside the Palace Theatre where Howard held his funeral for the competition.
4. While at KLSX, you also introduced the first successful Rock Art Show. How did you come up with that concept and how successful were those first shows?
I always loved John Lennon's artwork. I noticed that besides Lennon's artwork, Jerry Garcia and Ronnie Wood also published art. I also noticed that a lot of musicians went to art school. It's a right brain/creative side of the brain (thus the name of my company). When we started soliciting musicians to donate a piece of art for our charity show, it struck a "chord" with them. Many musicians either started doing artwork for our show or debuted their art at our show including Jon Anderson (Yes), Robby Krieger (Doors), Micky Dolenz (Monkees), John Entwistle (The Who), Ringo Starr and many others.
We held an opening night party at the venue (Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd) and in attendance were Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, Robby Krieger, Brian Setzer, Peter Frampton and dozens more. The show raised over $500,000 for AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) in the first year! The event also won a Best of the Best Promotion award from the NAB.
5. You've been promoting successful Rock Art Shows across the country for years. Tell us how you work with stations today?
The Rock Art Show is unique because it is designed as an upscale, visual representation of the radio stations playlist. It's a radio promotional event designed specifically for radio. I'm not an art dealer; I'm a radio marketing guy. Consultant Fred Jacobs said it best, "This is the one event that both programming and sales can equally embrace." I team up with great radio stations in each market such as our flagship station WMGK/Philadelphia, as well as stations such as KQRS/Minneapolis, 97Rock/Buffalo, WLS-FM/Chicago, WZLX/Boston, Q104.3/NYC, WAFX-WNOR/Norfolk and many others. There is no cost to the radio stations. We build the show, we staff the show, we handle media for the show and we work closely with radio sales departments to develop sponsorship opportunities for them.
The event traditionally receives a great deal of TV and print coverage, delights listeners and adds a new level of appreciation to their favorite rockers. The show features artwork from Rock artists, famous rock photographers, concert posters, limited edition gold records, Beatles animation and more. It's the history of rock in art form from the Rat Pack to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
We occasionally bring special guests to the show, such as Beatles Yellow Submarine animator Ron Campbell and Rolling Stone Magazine first chief photographer Baron Wolman.
6. Can you share some highlights about rare Rock Art or Artists you've worked with over the years?
My favorite story is during a Rock Art Show in Nashville with Clear Channel WNRQ, I heard a voice say "there's the guy to talk to..." I look up and it's Robert Plant. He was in the mall returning a pair of jeans and happened upon the Rock Art show. He spent 20 minutes talking to me and going through the Led Zeppelin posters. I showed him a beautifully framed funny photo of Jimmy Page and himself from 1998. He replied, "I have to have this and I'll even pay for it, but I want a discount because I'm in the picture." I offered to give it to him but he insisted on paying for it .... at a discount. He was clearly enjoying watching me squirm. We settled on a discounted price and he pulled out his Robert Plant Visa card. I have the signed charged receipt hanging in my office.
One of my other highlights is going on tour with Ringo Starr. I am a huge Beatles fan. I was invited to sell Ringo Starr's signed artwork, which all goes to his charity, during his past few American tours. A dream come true for me ... I can say that I toured with a Beatle.
7. I'm sure you have quite a few cool pieces of Rock Art yourself. Care to share some of your favorites with us?
I love all of it. I have a huge collection of signed album covers from my years in radio. I love album cover art so when I had the opportunity to meet musicians, I had them sign an album for me. I have them framed throughout my basement. My absolute favorite piece is actually an autographed photo of Paul McCartney and I next to an autographed photo of Ringo and I ... matted in one frame. I told you I'm a Beatles freak.
8. Besides the Rock Art Shows, you also do PR for a number of companies and individuals. Who are some of your notable clients?
Some of my clients past and present include Coleman Insights and their different divisions, Music Forecasting and knowDigital; The Reynolds Group (Steve Reynolds), the only talent coach who works with eight morning shows in the top-10 markets; EMI/Capitol Records (radio marketing for classic rock releases with the great Angelo Scrobe); Baron Wolman (the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine); Gary Sohmers (appeared as a pop culture appraiser for 13 seasons on the Antiques Roadshow); Ron Campbell (Director of the TV Beatles cartoons and animator of Yellow Submarine); and others. I also license rock photographs from top music photographers for radio station billboards, websites and vans.
9. As a successful marketing/promotion person, how important is a great website and social media presence today in helping your product or service cut thru the clutter?
It's very important in a number of ways. First, buying art is a very personal thing for people ... they get emotionally involved in the purchase. As the person selling the art, you are somehow connected to them. I have a "family" of customers who visit me in every city as if I'm an old friend coming to town. My website, blog, twitter, Facebook and e-mail database are the ways I personally keep in touch with them.
The RockArtShow.com website is also very valuable because we are only in a market for a few days and attendees of the shows may want to revisit a piece of art that they've seen and purchase it a later date. I also use our customer database to let people in each market know when the show is returning.
In addition, I offer specials to our loyal e-mail customers (our VIP club). Finally, I host a weekly podcast on iTunes and on our RockArtShow Facebook page that gives a 90 second Beatles newscast.
10. When you're not in Rock Art Show business mode, what do you like to do to relax and get away from the biz?
I'm a pop culture fanatic. I listen to music, see movies, watch TV, tune in to Howard Stern, go online ... everything is rooted in pop culture.
What was the first album or single you purchased on your own?
The first single I bought was called "Moonflight" by Vik Venus (aka Jack Spector from WMCA Good Guys) on Buddah Records. It was one of those novelty interview records a la Dickie Goodman. It was in heavy rotation on WDGY/Minneapolis. The first real rock single I purchased was "Hey Jude" ... still my favorite song to this day.
What's the last book you read and why?
I just read Pete Townshend "Who I Am." I went to see him in Philly participate in a Q&A session and perform a few acoustic songs. Then he signed everyone's book.