10 Questions with ... "Neander" Paul Marshall
February 12, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- AM show producer: WZLX/Boston
- Producer: WHDH/Boston
- Weekends: WHEB/Portsmouth, NH
- Weekends/swing: WAAF/Boston
- Nights/AMD, afternoons/MD, Interim PD: WMFS/Memphis
- Afternoons/MD: WCKW/New Orleans
- Mornings: WEGE/Columbus, OH
- Afternoons/MD: KRXQ/Sacramento
- Afternoons: WAAF/Boston
- A Short Visit To: WBCN/Boston, (then) Afternoons/MD: KQRC/Kansas City
- PD/afternoons: KDKB/Phoenix.
1) What was your first job in radio?
I snagged records(!). CDs, carts (get off my lawn!), coffee, and did what it took to get a foot in the door at WZLX. Early influences? First & and foremost, the staff of WBCN. My horrible career decisions are the result of one great radio station -- specifically, Charles Laquidara, Eddie Gorodetsky, Billy West, Mark Parenteau, Carter Alan and John Reilly. One of the highlights of my career was being able to say the WBCN call letters (coincidentally, also the only station I've ever sworn on). They started this for me, and a lot of others in our business. And I got to be one of them, if only for a moment. I also owe a massive debt of gratitude to former WZLX, and current WBZ/Boston Creative Super-Genius Michael Coleman. His inspiration and skewed work ethic are instrumental in how I present my radio show every day. Had I not been schooled and encouraged by Jim Fox at WMFS, and Curtiss Johnson at KRXQ, I would not be where I am right now. This is a fact.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
A clear lack of judgment, combined with an intense desire to do what I love, and nothing more.
Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I always go back to the "Walk-a-Thon" that was presented by the legendary WCOZ. I saw how the jock (who skipped out before the walk began. Let that be a lesson kids: Your listeners remember) got treated like a rock star. With no discernible musical acumen of my own at that age, I thought "Yup! That's for me!"
3) How long have you been at KDKB and what makes this station so unique?
I'll celebrate three years in July (mark your pools accordingly). This is one of America's longest-running Rock stations. That's simply awesome. I have great reverence for this fact. I saw what happened to the heritage stations in Boston (WBCN), NY (WNEW), and Philadelphia (WYSP), and know that this a very special radio station. Arizona is only 100 years old as a state. We've been here for 42 of those years. KDKB is a huge part of Phoenix' cultural history. As I learn more each day about Arizona, this place becomes that much more unique to me. It's truly awe-inspiring. I'm lucky to be part of it.
4) You have the dual role as PD and afternoon host ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
I wish I had a cute answer for you. But the truth is, I do not sleep. It's probably unhealthy. I write during every waking hour. For example, it's 7:30a on Saturday morning as I type this. I have Facebook open so that listeners may contact me if they want. I have to be available to be the connection to the station as a personality, and able to manage the administrative responsibilities. That's what it takes to serve both masters efficiently. As most of us have had to wear more hats, I'm the PD/MD/afternoon host, assist our Prod Guy in writing, and work hand-in-hand with Sales & the Web Dept. every day, to see what we're doing on the air/web that can be monetized.
The story is not unique to me. Every PD pulling a shift reading this, most likely does the same. That's partially why they're not returning calls as in the past. There really is very little time. But, and this may shock you, it's not *all* about me. We have an entire staff that crushes it every day and management counting on us to be the best Rock station in Phoenix. That takes time, effort, patience, and persistency. I'm all in. Always have been.
5) You have always been known as a guy with strong opinions. What's your take on current music in the Active and Mainstream Rock formats? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
Really? As if I am capable of compressing my opinions into anything resembling PPM-friendly (wait for it!). I'll start with this; the audience doesn't know the difference between "Active" and "Mainstream" Rock. Let's stop putting industry labels on music. The audience we serve couldn't care less. Every station needs to reassess what your brand really means to the audience. We spend a lot of time cornering ourselves with formatic restraint. Because of this, great music is being ignored. It is out there. If your station plays new music as a large percentage of your presentation, there's no excuse for not having enough to fill said percentage -- especially if you're the only outlet in your market for new Rock. That being said, programming is completely different in PPM vs. diary. Decisions are made with two separate rulebooks. This makes universal presentation of new music more difficult than ever for new artists. We have much work to do on that front.
6) KDKB is a heritage Rock station in the same market with your sister station and Active Rocker KUPD. How much current or library music if any do you share and is there a conscious effort to play in your own musical sandbox?
Not only is there a conscious decision, it's mandated ... specifically because PPM shows "real" percentages of audience sharing. If those percentages are too high, your station isn't unique, and you're cannibalizing yourself. This goes back to what I was saying about reassessing the station. And what it means to the *target* audience. Ratings compression in PPM is such that I'm charged with making sure that KDKB is significantly different than our sister stations in our presentation. The audience uses all three stations. We know this. I won't speak for other stations in the company, but I have to make sure that the choice to use KDKB is a deliberate one.
Recall still exists in PPM. It's behavioral. I want the audience to come to KDKB when they want the Rock they're looking for, and I want KDKB to be the station that people come to when they tune away from our other stations. Not because any one of us isn't delivering. Because people flip. Simple as that. Our mission statement is not to be the "new music" station. By design, we don't expose it frequently enough to own that position. We're familiar and inclusive. More often than not, our current music comes from familiar, established artists that our target demo wants to hear. We will play new Aerosmith. We won't play new Halestorm. If you're looking to discover new music, that choice in our company lies elsewhere. Pull up Mediabase and you'll see that KDKB sounds nothing like KUPD. There's very little sharing when it comes to new music.
7) Phoenix is a PPM market. How does that affect your station's ratings as opposed to the old diary methodology?
I hate PPM. I'm sure I'm not alone. Exposure is not listening. How it affects ratings is that the loss of *two* in-demo meter-holders in one month, can drop your station out of the Top 10. There are over 3.6 million people in the Phoenix market, and 5+ million in the Valley. And *two* people can make, or break, your monthly. Knowing this, how do you think programming is affected? I'll tell you; taking chances = potential loss of those two people, which = failure.
On any given day, I can look to the KDKB streaming figures, and see higher numbers than the total amount of meters representing our target audience. Without going into the massive negative diatribe I hit my Arbitron rep with, I'll just reiterate; I'm not a fan. At least in diary, people "knew" they were listening to the radio. They might've voted their conscience vs. reality. But, at least there, you saw tangible response. I repeat ... "exposure" is not "listening."
8) How active is KDKB with your web site and social media presence?
We redesigned our entire web platform a year ago. We ask that our jocks maintain a large web presence, and you know I'm always online. So, I'd say we're as active as we can be without becoming intrusive. It's a fine line. What can we be doing with our station web sites to better our stations as a whole? Simple navigation. Make it easier for the audience to find what they're looking for. I am of the opinion that eventually, everything will be delivered via a mobile app. The radio as a stand-alone unit will disappear completely. Towers will go away in some instances, and others will be sold off to? Wireless content providers. On the web, we exist in a worldwide, competitive landscape, whether we like it, or not. Yes, local content is the thing that makes us unique to our local markets. But, we are going to have to be prepared to compete globally. The 'Net knows no market. Your website had better be every bit efficient at serving your market as CNN, ESPN, TMZ, etc. Your presentation has to be top-notch. Radio needs to be more proactive ... and less reactive. Easily said by the guy who doesn't have to foot the costs. The web is not the future. It's the now.
9) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Proper focus on the product. This is an intimate, people-oriented, subjective medium. It is our personality, and the ability to be instantly reflective of our listeners' wants, that defines us. Passive ratings processes, and reducing the number of people who create that individuality are massive mistakes. We are not TV. You cannot nationalize radio and expect people to care locally. America is huge. In Europe, NYC and Phoenix are different countries. And they're separated by 10 other unique countries.
You can't put someone in a booth in Houston, and have them perform for New Orleans. The cultures are so different, that the audience knows you're not from there. Jock-in-the-box will be our end. You must be live and immediate in radio to be relevant in the overall. There are simply too many options for everyone to get their entertainment. People don't listen to radio for the music. They listen to feel connected to something. Consolidation is eliminating that connection. They can get the music anywhere. They cannot get what comes between the music anywhere else. This is what makes radio special, and we keep forgetting that.
10) I know you're a huge football fan and sports fan in general. What would be your dream sports broadcasting job and why?
Sports is a different animal. I enjoy doing Sports/Talk because it's the format that allows you to passionately change your position based upon the tide of the seasons. You can love the team when it's winning and blast them when they're losing (insert Raiders joke here) with the same intensity. And the audience is right there with you. However, play-by-play is extremely tough to do well. There's a big difference between the two. I'd say the ultimate would be calling a gold medal event in the Olympics. That's the one time that sports really matters to the mood of a nation. Can't imagine there's any better feeling than proclaiming world superiority ... in a game. It's at once meaningless, and important.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
Thankfully, I'm old enough to answer this question. Are these .cda, or .mp3 CDs? You'll have to be more specific. Recording technology dictates my response.
Are you more a TV or movie guy or both? What are some of your favorites from either genre?
The TV shows I love tend to get cancelled pretty quickly. I was a fan of the Penelope Spheeris TV show, "Danger Theater" Which starred a young Diedrich Bader. Hilariously funny. My favorite TV show of all time remains "Monty Python's Flying Circus." I can't tell you the last time I actually went to the movies. Might've been when Mark Abramson, and I checked out "Borat." Great date-flick! My favorites? Either "This is Spinal Tap" "Talk Radio" or "Midnight Run."
What do you read in the bathroom?
The "War & Peace" of Allaccess' 10 Questions. Oh, you said "read?" Sorry. Thought I heard "write."