10 Questions with ... Lance Hale
February 26, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WVJC/88-90 (Mt. Carmel, IL)
- WRBT/89-90 (Evansville, IN)
- WRAY/90-93 (Princeton, IN)
- WROC/WJST/93-96 (Ft. Myers, FL)
- WJBX/96-02 (Ft. Myers, FL)
- WLRS/02-04 (Louisville, KY)
- WRQC/04-07 (Ft. Myers, FL)
- WAVF/07-08 (Charleston, S.C.)
- WOTT/08-present (Watertown, NY)
- WEFX/09-present (Watertown, NY)
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first actual job was for WRBT, a Mainstream Rocker in the Evansville market. I worked under Bill May, who was a wealth of knowledge. Unfortunately, I was a dumb teenager and didn't sponge as much as I should have. It ended prematurely. But it's all part of that rise to enlightenment. As far as early influences, I learned so much from Lee Daniels (WJBX), Hurricane Shane (WROC) and Shark (WJST). But it was the Joe & Stan show out of Ft. Myers that turned me onto how a show could sound big and local at the same time.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Being in a band is what led me to a career in radio. I thought it would be a great way to get signed. But radio had the opposite effect. It led to more carrots being dangled that were never really within reach. As far as a defining moment, I had been juggling a band and radio for years, when Alan Sneed (consulting guru) told me it was time to make a decision. Make the jump into programming or languish with the whole juggling thing. I quit the band and became PD of WLRS/Louisville.
3) How long have you been at WOTT (94 Rock) and what makes this station so unique?
I've been here five years and there are a couple of factors making it unique. First is Fort Drum. The signal for this station was specifically designed to cover Fort Drum. Between soldiers and their families, there are an additional 50,000 people in the market and they love their rock. We're also on the Canadian border. So the music is more varied. We'll take chances on artists not doing well in the States, but blowing up in Canada.
4) You have the dual role as PD and midday/afternoon host ...plus you are also programming the Country station (WEFX) in your cluster. How do you balance your time so all your roles are effective?
It takes time to balance the schedule, making sure that each station gets the attention it needs without sacrificing the other. I have my routine. Between meetings, prepping, voicetracking, programming, production, promotions and social media (did I leave anything out?) ... I make it work.
5) You are running the Bob & Tom Show in morning drive. How does that show work with your aggressive Active Rock format?
It works better than what you might think and as far as Active Rock goes, we're a bit on the conservative side. We're not as aggressive as other stations in the format and it works for us. We have Fort Drum in the market and with Bob & Tom also on the Armed Forces Radio Network, soldiers tend to look for Bob & Tom when they hit the area.
6) Tell us a little about your owners Community Broadcasters? Who are their principals and what is it like working for them?
It's two guys, Jim Leven and Bruce Mittman, and they, along with Bill Jacobs, are the reason I'm here. Jim used to own Pilot Communications, with 95X in Syracuse as his flagship station and Bruce was GM at WAAF in Boston for years. These guys know their business and I wanted to work for them. They're rock guys. They get it and being able to work with Bill Jacobs, who suggested the gig in the first place, just puts more people in the circle of trust that get it. Basically, they have a vision for the future. I like that vision. I'm part of it. I also appreciate their candor. It's refreshing to get straight answers in this business. That isn't always the case.
7) What's your take on current music at Rock Radio? Is it as good as six months ago, better, or about the same?
Depends on your tastes, I guess. There isn't a lot of depth out there. With more resources available, listeners are as fickle as ever. It's no longer about holding someone's attention for an entire album. It's about holding their attention for a three-minute single. So it's about catchy songs, not epic albums. Sorry, CDs. Sorry, digital downloads. I think for the most part, the best music is from bands that have already established themselves (Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Deftones). But even then, that's not always the case. You have to earn the right to make a great album. Until then, you're forced to write the next hooky song. I think it's harder than ever for a new band to break these days. The stakes are too high on a whiff.
8) How much does 94 Rock use its website to help enhance the WOTT experience with its listeners?
The website is a slice of the online pie. It's more of a portal to everything else. If you use it correctly, it's a great tool. I'm not sure we're there yet. But we're working on it.
9) How aggressive is your station with social media? Does 94 Rock use Facebook and Twitter to interact with its listeners?
I gotta tell you, Jacobs Media puts so much emphasis on getting their stations to really establish themselves in the world of social media. Lori Lewis does a great job. It's a science that is always changing. It's constant engagement of the listeners. It takes up more time than it ever has. But it's so important. You have to stay on it. You have to stay top of mind. It has to be a priority, which it is for us.
10) You've always been a Rocker. Now that you're also programming a Country station, when you're wearing that big Cowboy hat, are there some cool Country artists you like?
Here's the thing: You have to approach this with an open mind. Country has kind of evolved into what rock was in the '80s. It's got that Hair Band attitude. It's a party. It's about a good time. That's why you see so many of those '80s artists delving into Country -- Bon Jovi, Bret Michaels, Def Leppard, Sebastian Bach. Some of the stuff I dig are by Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, The Civil Wars, Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town (my wife loves them/sounds like Bonnie Raitt to me). I'm still learning. I have great teachers in Joel Raab and Barry Mardit.
What do you like to do to relax when you're not in radio mode?
I'm a sports fanatic. So I'm always surfing blogs of my teams (Dolphins, Cubs & Bulls). I like to write, just finished writing my first book. It's a thriller called "The Obituary Journal." Working on publishing, then we'll see and when the game presents itself, I'm always up for a good game of chess.
What's the best live band you saw last year?
Trespass America with Five Finger Death Punch was pretty bad-ass. Local favorites, Tyrade, tore it up on the 2nd stage. Was also cool to see Vinnie Paul play with HellYeah. First time I'd seen him since Pantera opened for Skid Row ... a long time ago. The best show I didn't see last year was Clutch in Syracuse. But my wife was giving birth to our daughter. No way was I missing that. Clutch is back in Syracuse this year. But it's on my son's 5th birthday. No way I'm missing that either. Maybe next time.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
Beatles/White Album... Zeppelin/Presence... Foo Fighters/In Your Honor... Radiohead/Kid A... Our Lady Peace/Happiness Is Not A Fish...