10 Questions with ... Mike Karolyi
February 5, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I have been on air at WCCC, Hartford for 27 years! In that time I have been Production Dir., MD and APD. I have been here through all the music cycles over the years playing Elton John, Steely Dan, CCR, Genesis, R.E.M., Twisted Sister, Poison, Nirvana, Linkin Park, Shinedown and many others along the way.
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Radio was my way into the music business. I didn't really strive to be on-air. I was interested in exposing music and the artists that wrote them. That and Connecticut School of Broadcasting seemed to be a much quicker way to get through school and on to the job!
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Radio is just as much today as it was when I started, more fun in many ways. I would do it again in a second.
3) How many years have you been at WCCC and what makes this station unique?
In my 27 years at WCCC we have always been unique. Being an independent over all of those years really made us unique. From 1986 thru 1998 we were owned by Sy Dresner and known as the station that let Howard Stern get away because Sy would not give him an extra $25 a week! Howard made his return to WCCC around 1995 and really put us back on the map. In 1998, Marlin Broadcasting bought us and we became a dominant force on air and on the street. We have had many unique personalities and always managed to thrive by being live and local. All of our jocks are from Connecticut and we don't have any fully voicetracked air shifts.
4) Your PD Michael Picozzi does mornings and you do middays. Tell us about your working relationship and how you guys get things done with those major air shifts?
Picozzi is currently an off-air PD but he lets me do my job. Can you imagine? I am allowed to truly be a MD and decide which songs and artists are right for WCCC. That also allows him the time to focus on the not-so-fun stuff. I am lucky.
5) Do you enjoy being on the air and what sorts of special features do you run during your shift?
There is nothing like being on the air. I am able to express myself to a large audience every day. Share observations, inform, entertain. There is no job quite like it.
6) Let's talk about the music on WCCC. Being this is a long time heritage station; I'm sure keeping the long time upper demo listeners happy is important, but how do you do that and also engage the younger WCCC listeners?
We love all of our listeners no matter the age. The way WCCC has evolved over the years allows us to play heritage artists like Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd alongside newer artists like 3 Doors Down, Shinedown and Foo Fighters. We do get a bit heavier and more current-intensive at night to satisfy our younger demo. Of course, there is never enough Pantera for the Metal fans but that will never change. Ha ha! WCCC has some of the most passionate and loyal listeners in the country. We are very proud of that.
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?
Unfortunately, I don't think it has been terribly strong for a long time. There are certainly many gems but the overall scene has been weakening the last couple of years. I have a bunch of bands that I really like but the masses have not embraced a new "Active Rock" band in a long time. To the point where you can say they will be selling a ton of tickets and songs. Alternative is enjoying a nice run of hits right now and Active might want to embrace some of these acts while we wait for our next crop.
8) How does your station utilize social media as a marketing tool?
Carissa Lozinski is our Director of Social Media and is well versed in all things online. And we rely on her to utilize social media in many different ways. We take advantage of the fact that we are live and local by giving our jocks full access to the Facebook and Twitter pages 24/7 so they can interact with the listeners.
The station uses the WCCC YouTube channel as a weekly tool to give our listeners an inside look at the station, the people that work here, and what goes on behind the scenes. Our listeners can watch us broadcast live when we use our studio webcam, and they can call us, or text us a 'hello' or a request they have.
All of the jocks at WCCC are fully accessible, not only through our Facebook, but you can also directly e-mail them on www.wccc.com, and they'll get back to you right away! Our Rock-a-Holics news letter keeps our listeners updated on events and promotions via e-mail.
If you're not in Connecticut and you want to listen to 106.9 WCCC you can stream us via our website, or listen on our iPhone or Android Apps. We also use our Twitter and Facebook pages to promote station events, client marketing campaigns, website contests, and concerts!
9) Tell us about a unique promotion that WCCC has recently done that reflects your listeners passion for Rock and the station...
This may not be exactly what you are looking for,but this will give you an idea of how special our listeners are. We held the first annual WCCC Christmas Chaos Concert on Saturday,December 15th featuring Three Days Grace, All That Remains, Hinder, Fozzy and Otherwise. Obviously this was planned months in advance with Jim Koplik at Live Nation as well as Gary Spivack,but it ended up being the day after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. There was some discussion on whether to have the show or not. Ultimately we decided to go forward at the urging of our listeners.
We didn't know what to expect at the venue. Would everyone show? What would the mood be? What do we say from the stage? As it turns out we had a full house. Our listeners, or our "family" as we refer to them, wanted to be together that night. We held a moment of silence from the stage just before Three Days Grace and you could hear a pin drop. We also put together a last minute donation table to support the Sandy Hook School Support Fund and were able to raise nearly $3,000! Our listeners may wear black shirts but they don't have black hearts.
10) You are a lifelong Connecticut resident and I know the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings had a great impact on you. You've been working on a benefit CD to help the families of this tragedy. What's the latest on this project and how can people help the cause?
The events of Friday December 14th will stay with me forever. The tragedy is unthinkable and our listeners kept asking what can be done to help. The most immediate thing I could come up with is to produce a CD featuring our WCCC artists and donate the proceeds to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. This is a fund created in conjunction with the United Way and Newtown Bank. This fund will be able to provide support services to the families and community that has been affected. 100% of the proceeds after expenses will go to the fund. The CD entitled "WCCC Presents Songs for Sandy Hook" will feature music from Linkin Park, Staind, Slash, Shinedown, Pop Evil and many others and we hope to have it available for purchase at www.wccc.com by Valentine's Day.
I have to say the response from my friends in the industry was overwhelming. Everyone jumped into action and was more than willing to help. Mark Gorlick at The Collective, Lea Pisacane at Atlantic Records, Bill McGathy of Indegoot and so many others came through for us and this very special project.
What do you do for fun away from your rock and work life?
Away from my work life. I spend as much time with my son Mikey as I possibly can. Nothing is more precious to me than the time I spend with him.
Who is your favorite artist you have met and why?
Being around as long as I have I'm lucky enough to have met so many great artists but my favorites have been Aerosmith, KISS and Van Halen as they were the bands that I grew up listening to. I have interviewed KISS many times, but my favorite encounter with them came last September when they played Hartford and I was finally able to have my picture taken with them in costume.
What's the best live show you saw last year?
My favorite live show of 2012 was the WCCC Big Gig with 12 bands including Godsmack, Staind, Volbeat and Steel Panther, but the best live performance I saw was Dead Sara's set at the Big Gig. Of the new bands we play at WCCC, Dead Sara is the one I see with the greatest potential to put rock back on the map.