10 Questions with ... Shawn Whitney
July 9, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
12a-6a on 98.9 KKZX Spokane, Promotions Crew for entire Clear Channel cluster and morning traffic, 2003; part-time on-air and Assistant Production Dir., KDTR/Missoula: 2004-05; Afternoon drive/Production Dir., KBAZ/Missoula, 2007-2011; Midday/Production + Imaging Dir., KXRN/Laguna Beach 2012; MD/afternoon drive, KCLB/Palm Springs 2013
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I started out as an intern and worked my way into a full-time promotions/on-air gig at Clear Channel/Spokane. I wore a tie to the interview and they laughed at me.
Early influences: Jim Arnold of "The Radiomen" at KKXZ in Spokane, "Ricker" formally of KUFO and KISW, and Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP in Cincinnati.
2) Before you started your new gig at KCLB, you worked for a low-powered (LP) station in Laguna Beach. Tell us about that station and what you did there?
At the time, I had moved to SoCal to get my foot into a bigger rock scene and live by a beach. I read a post in AllAccess.com about a station being built down the road that was going totally independent of any corporate influence. I was intrigued to say the least. They were building the whole thing from the ground up, and since I had a bit of radio engineering background, I offered to help out any way I could. When the station was almost built, they offered me an on-air gig/production gig. It's unlike anything out there. It's completely community-driven and caters to Alternative music and the SoCal lifestyle incredibly well. It's ran completely by radio's "next generation" and they rely on the community for funding. Here's the kicker: It's working and proving that it can be done.
3) How long have you been at KCLB and what makes this station so unique? Is there anything strange or indigenous to working at a Rock station in a resort/retirement market like Palm Springs?
I'm only closing in on three months here. KCLB is in a prime place for Active and Heritage Rock music. California seems to sway toward the Alternative scene and has left a gap for Active Rock in the larger markets that look to us to fill the void. The city of Palm Springs is only a small area of our broadcast signal. There are a ton of cities that connect to it with a younger age demographic with die-hard rockers! The only strange thing I've found is that there isn't a big live music venue with weekly big name acts within two hours.
4) You have the dual role as MD and afternoon-drive host ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
I'm just finally getting into the groove of a somewhat manageable schedule. For a good month I was running around like my ass was on fire. I'm learning to really delegate my time to a strict daily schedule to make sure every part of my job gets the attention it needs. It's still a work in progress.
5) I know that you're a passionate music fan. What's your take on current Rock music and the Active Rock format as a whole?
As far as Rock goes, I feel we're in a bit of a low point. Too many bands are trying to sound like each other instead of just cranking out what they feel is good and running it up the flagpole. Radio is partially to blame when you have five bands in the top 10 that sound alike. There are a few that are carrying the torch and steering things in the right direction. As far as Active Rock, I see a huge shift coming. The music and scene is ever-changing, and radio needs to keep up with that. The sound is getting harder and more aggressive, and underground bands with millions of followers are slowly clawing their way on to the airwaves. Active stations will have to decide if they want to embrace the new sound, or stick with the safe side. It all comes down to who you are programming for, and where you see your station in three years.
6) What kinds of special music features does KCLB do to expose some of the best new Active Rock bands and songs?
We have a segment called "Fresh Baked," where we roll the latest rising tracks back to back in a block.
7) Let's talk about social media and KCLB. How does the station use Facebook and Twitter to interact with its listeners?
We're big on Facebook. We try and divide it up between station promotion and interaction with our listeners. We know that a good percentage of FB fans might not be tuned in for long hauls throughout the day, and that gives us the opportunity to connect and put the station in the back of their minds. We're not huge on Twitter, but instead are shifting our attention to VINE. I really think this app has unlimited promotional value if used right.
8) Now let's talk about the KCLB website. How do you use the site to market the station and interact with listeners?
We have a rad web girl who is on point when it comes to getting our important info out. Killer graphics, and layouts help catch the eye and draw people to stay awhile and check things out. We have a special section for our "workforce listeners," where we give them inside info on concert tickets and special giveaways. We also make sure to never spam them with garbage, which is key!
9) Speaking of websites, I understand you built your own website initially as a personal resume that morphed into a life of it's own at Rockstarradioshow.com. Tell us about the site.
There are a lot of great things about small-market radio. The downside is no matter what kind of bad-ass radio I was doing, I couldn't get the attention of big stations I had on my bucket list. I finally decided to build a site and post my work there in hopes that it would get passed to the right people. As the site grew, I decided to transition it to not only represent my brand, but all things Rock radio. I still wanted more. I wanted a place where I could cover the bands that I wanted, and say things in my own words. I started photographing live events, doing more on-site interviews, posting rock news, and really building a place for die-hard rock/metal fans like myself. The web traffic and industry connection is great. Bands and labels are now coming to me to be featured at the site which is an amazing feeling.
10) What are your three favorite artists or songs of this year and why?
No offense whatsoever to my format, but thus far they have been tracks that haven't hit the airwaves
- Killswitch Engage - "Tribute To The Fall" They have Jesse Leach back on vox, and it's such an intense roller coaster track. It's one of the most beautiful, face kicking songs I've heard in a long time
- Wednesday 13 - "Dixie Dead" This guy doesn't get anywhere the respect he deserves as a songwriter and vocalist. This track has the coolest hook in the world! It mixes blues, punk and spooky metal that forces me to air guitar in front of complete strangers
- Volbeat - "Black Bart" - This band has been a daily jam for me since 2009. The storytelling on this song and whole album goes super-deep. It's got an outlaw western feel, all while churning in one of a kind guitar hooks and vocals.
What do you like to do for kicks when you're not in "radio" mode?
A select group of friends and I travel to all parts of the world and crash parties while wearing nothing but American flag speedos. I'm not joking. It's pretty awesome.
Give us your five favorite metal bands of all time and why?
Well, that's kind of a loaded question. The term "Metal" has gotten so out of hand in the past 20 years, that if one dude says he likes "this" metal band, I might want to slap him because it's actually an emo-punk. So what's listed below are either metal, or sub-genres, and I'll gladly argue my choices if needed.
- Black Label Society