10 Questions with ... Rob Cressman
August 27, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WFVA/WBQB - Fredericksburg, VA - 1988-1990.
- WJMA A/F - Orange, VA - 1990-1992
- WAVF - Charleston, SC - 1992-1999
- WMFS - Memphis, TN - 1999-2008
- WLZX / WAQY - Springfield, MA - 2008 - present
1) What was your first job in radio?
As a college intern, I worked in the news department at Fredericksburg, Virginia's full-service AM/FM, WFVA. I was later hired as the station's full-time midday host.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it?"
I don't have memories of aspiring to be involved in any other career. From a young age, I scoured for opportunities to get inside the buildings and see the radio magic in action. I think the internship sealed it for me. I thrived in the atmosphere and set my sights for the future.
3) How long have you been at WLZX (Lazer 99.3) and what makes this station so unique?
I've enjoyed five years in New England with Saga. I was initially charged with leading Active Rock Lazer 99-3 and in 2010 accepted the additional oversight of Classic Rock, WAQY (Rock 102.) Since then, I have been honored to expand my role in an effort to employ best practices and strengthen brands in various formats. I work with Saga's EVP/Programming Steve Goldstein, Brand Managers and General Managers throughout our company on talent development projects.
Lazer is dissimilar to many in the format because of its demographic appeal. It's a very hit-driven, mainstream Active Rock radio station anchored by decidedly engaging hosts and highly interactive shows in the morning and afternoon. Musically, Lazer stays familiar and edgy without the rip-saw. The station has grown its base by pleasing New England Rock fans who grew up with grunge. We are selective with new music. The metal-based, double-pedaled drum rock is just too polarizing for all-day play here.
4) You have the dual role as OM/Brand Manager and midday host ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
Time management is crucial. I try to prioritize Tuesday before leaving Monday. Nonetheless, it's easy to get waylaid with unexpected challenges. These days I set lots of electronic reminders.
5) Tell us a little about your morning show with Leslie. It's kind of rare to find a female leading a morning show for a Rock station. How is Leslie in mornings working out?
Leslie is an amazing talent. She's a multi-faceted host who produces her own show. It's just Leslie and the audience each morning - no co-hosts, no phone screeners, no interns. The key ingredients to the success of her show include music (7+ songs per hour,) audience interaction and service elements, but it is Leslie's ability to balance the content that wins cume and keeps her fans listening longer. Leslie is meticulous in her preparation and very smart about the material she chooses. She is wired to the information sources that track details on local events and activities.
6) Let's talk about your company Saga. They have a great reputation as a solid "Programmer-Friendly" company. Give us some examples of how cool it is to work for them?
The Saga difference is rooted in autonomy. The creative process - from conception to execution - is generally unencumbered. While strategic templates and company philosophies are clear, many of the day-to-day assessments and decisions that have historically fallen under the programmer's scope of influence remain intact here. Collaborative ingenuity and resourcefulness are encouraged.
7) Can you share with us any major promotions that Lazer has done over the last year that has really cut through the clutter?
Lazer's strongest promotion is a recurring event that travels to a different neighborhood each week. The Lazer 99-3 Traveling Thirsty Thursday party has transcended the radio station to become a community affair every Thursday afternoon from 5 to 7. The inaugural event dates back to January of 2009 and Lazer has hosted the weekly bash on every consecutive Thursday afternoon since (it moves to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving each year.) Hundreds of Lazer fans turn out every week for free food and premium prizes. All of the Lazer jocks are in attendance to host the party every week and all of the on-air content originates from the bar for two hours (each jock rotates for live breaks). In the absence of large budgets for outside media, this particular brand of street marketing builds solid bonds between our personalities and their fans. It's appointment relationship-building that has helped strengthen Lazer's appeal to a wider audience - and it builds revenue. Our clients are now booking into 2014.
8) What are your three favorite artists, albums or songs of this year and why?
Shinedown's Amaryllis - released last year, but the title track is the not-yet-promoted big winner.
Pop Evil's Onyx - Great songs, outstanding guys. Do a promotion with this radio-friendly band.
Macklemore feat. Ryan Lewis - The Heist - another 2012 release ... but these are 2013 songs. Hookity-hookity-hookity hook.
9) What do you like to do to for fun and relaxation when you're not in "radio" mode?
I enjoy traveling and am an avid Washington Redskins fan.
10) Are you a TV or movie person, and what are some of your favorites from either genre?
Both. Though my list is far from unique: Mad Men, Homeland, Orange is the New Black, The Wire, and reruns of Good Times.
Best movie, bar none - Glengarry Glen Ross.