10 Questions with ... Max Volume
October 1, 2013
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job was here at KOZZ. I started as an intern, also worked in engineering, and wound up on the air. My grandfather owned a TV repair shop, so I knew a lot about the equipment. My two heroes when I was 10 years old were Wolfman Jack and Johnny Carson. I was a child of KROQ. I used to ride my bike down to the studios in Pasadena when I won stuff. I listened to Jim Ladd on KMET, and enjoyed KNAC as well. My parents' station wagon played KRLA and KHJ.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Nope. Not at all. I just wanted to meet chicks. My first PD, Daniel Cook, handed me the ball and said "run." I did. Ever since I came up with the name "Max Volume" (and there were a few others who have used the on-air name, some as early as my start, however I've been Max Volume for 31 years, have a servicemark, a fictitious d.b.a., a business license, a P.O. Box. etc, etc.); I haven't had a day off. Business is good; I am so blessed! If it works, don't fix it!
3) How long have you been at KOZZ and what makes this station so unique?
I started as an intern in the fall of '81. It was Reno's only Rock! It was a really cool AOR. Daniel Cook has always had a gift for surrounding himself with talented people, and the ability to manage talent. Some of the people I worked with, such Andy Schuon, Rich Garcia, Midge Ripoli, Bruce Van Dyke, Rob Brooks, (and the list goes on and on) are all well-known, respected industry stalwarts. Andy Schuon and I were Daniel's favorites. Andy and I got away with a lot of mischief. We were silly and fun in our approach to radio. That's how we won. Andy and I were "fans with a microphone," not "standard issue" air talents.
I left with Daniel in '87 to start up the first "other" Rock Station in Reno, KRZQ, which Shamrock Recently resurrected. The original KRZQ was a "Rock 40," very current-intensive. We flipped Alternative in '92, which was not much of a stray from where we were. Then I '93 I went to work at KRXQ in Sacramento and worked with my homeboys Pat Martin and Curtiss Johnson for three years. I came back to Lotus Reno and helped launch KDOT, "Rock 104.5" in '96. The GM at that time really wanted me back on KOZZ, so I came back to KOZZ in early "97. I had to rebuild it from the ground up. It was thrashed. Library was destroyed. They were playing whatever didn't skip. I put KOZZ back in the top 5 here in the market, and it's a very durable product that performs well with advertisers.
4) You do afternoons on the station and help OM Jave Patterson with programming the music ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
OM Jave Patterson and I finish each other's sentences. He's a lot like Andy. We write imaging and it only goes on the air if it cracks us up. People use radio to escape the world for a moment. Make them smile. Since I have a West Coast Alternative /Metal background, I come in handy to Jave with regard to KDOT "Rock 104.5." We work together on both stations' priorities, and think through the goal. When you are on-air, you're onstage. It's a show; make it your focus to put on a great show. Nothing is more important than what is coming out of the speakers.
5) Even though KOZZ is a Classic Rock station, I understand you occasionally play currents from Classic Rock artists. How does that process work and what's the audience response to hearing currents in the mix?
A Classic Rock artist's new release has every reason to be played on a Classic Rock station. Earlier this year Clapton, Bowie and Hendrix released amazing records that debuted in the top 10 and stayed there for two months. I defer to the Bill Betts Rule "don't let that cool new song sneak up on the listener." Promote that you're going to play the new Clapton. Introduce it. Backsell it. Showcase that new song. Present it with a "Now and Then." Play an old favorite, then the new song. Make the radio fun. We're playing 16 new records one to four times a week. We're a Mediabase reporter. We're regularly doing promotions with new releases. Win the new Mark Knopfler ... on vinyl! Paul McCartney has a "New" one. Hmm, Paul McCartney, name rings a bell.
Your listeners depend on you to play and romance the artists from the Classic Rock stable. If you don't, they will turn to the Internet or Satellite radio. AAA seems to busy trying to "out-Lumineer and out-Mumford" the crosstown Alternative. So I mix in the gems along with the freshies. Led Zeppelin released "Celebration Day," Fleetwood Mac released the deluxe "Rumours." I took the outstanding "live" tracks from those releases and swapped out the studio versions to give the station a lift. It made us sound very hip. Hipsters even think we're cool. The bottom line is we're up three books in a row.
6) What's your take on the Classic Rock format's music? How do you keep things fresh while playing Rock music that's been around for up to 40 years?
I think Classic Rock is open to interpretation. Some use the '65-'75 playbook. Some rock softer with James Taylor, Seals and Crofts, Little River Band and Kenny Loggins. Some rock harder, like us, with Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. You can never go wrong with the Eagles, but play their rock songs! Know your niche, know your audience. Here's a thought: The '65 Mustang wasn't a classic until 1985. I go by the 20-year rule. Music research is great, but tends to be over-thought and nationalized. Go to www.RIAA.com, look at the top-selling albums of all time. Those are the records your listeners said "I gotta own this!" Guns & Roses "Appetite" is like, 6th, behind "Back in Black," "The White Album," 'Rumours," "The Wall" and "Led Zep 4."
My GM and my CEO want adults 25-64. A lot of textbook Classic Rock programmers believe they can deliver a 40-year-old listener playing music for a 55-year-old. Not going to happen. That 40-year-old you're hoping to get? They graduated high school in 1991. What did they dance to at their prom? I'm going with Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Ratt, and Whitesnake. '80s music is imperative to acquiring to 40-year-old. Know your region and the bands that come from there. A station in the Midwest can get away with a lot of REO, Styx and Head East. We're close to the two western kingdoms of L.A. and San Francisco. Tesla, Y&T and Sammy Hagar are strong for us. The bands that played your market, are the memories your P1s have. Music is memories. With Classic Rock comes the need to be genuine. Play the right versions of the right songs, and don't cut off "Layla" before the birds tweet.
7) KOZZ also has a reputation for being very involved with the Local Rock music community in Reno. How much does your background as a working musician contribute to that?
Reno, NV is a curious market. We may only be market #122, but as far as the West Coast goes, we're a top-10 destination. There is a lot of work for good bands, either cover or original. We have some great clubs and venues. We have so many events. You can't swing a sack of wet laundry without hitting a festival or big "to do" all year long, on any weekend.
A couple years ago Reno was the punch line to a joke. Colin Kaepernick, Gina Carano, David Coverdale, Bud Gaugh of Sublime, Whitney Myer, Glen Plake, Shaun Palmer, and Julia Mancuso all have Reno roots. I love all of them; they're so colorful. Colin is a very humble, funny, personable guy. I spent almost a whole year hanging out with Jimmy Page, jamming and working on the Coverdale Page CD. David Coverdale has been a big mentor to me. He's the big brother I never had. I worked for Bill Graham as a stage hand, and then was his voice for all the Reno market spots. What I learned from the Wolf (Bill) was to get to know the club owners and clubgoers. I've worked hard to create a music community that is very healthy and really cool. I'm about to release my fifth studio CD on my own label. I've done everything with discmakers. I've sold thousands of CDs and downloads, globally. My band is a regular national touring support act. We play the Knitting Factory a lot. I also am very tight with the local ski resorts. I don't compete anymore, but I was racing Boardercross for many years. The Snow Sports Culture is huge here.
8) How much does KOZZ use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with it's listeners?
A lot. I'm a seasoned veteran with social media. It's all about the "likes," the "shares" and the "comments." I see it as very "Pavlovian." I push the right buttons and get the responses to be the "top story." I use Facebook to let them know "coming up in the 5p hour, I'll have Carlos Santana on the show!" However, Facebook and Twitter are 1,000% exposure and 1% return. They are great to use in addition to, not instead of radio fundamentals. Air talent needs to use the 2:00 rule. Get off Facebook, put your headphones on and rehearse your break before you open the mic. Before you go on-air, map out your whole show; liners, PSAs, contests, personality bits, etc. Be topical. Use your localisms to increase your value to your listener. The same guy who tells you all about how cool Pandora is will be the first guy to ask you to let people know about his little girl's school car wash fundraiser this weekend.
9) What new Active Rock artist has a great chance to be played on Classic Rock radio in the future and why?
Going back to the 20-year rule (it ain't a classic until it's 20 years old) Grunge! Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden are about to make their presence on the Classic Rock stations of America. You want a 35-year-old Mom? You want Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell. On a side note, I love Gaslight Anthem. They're so Gin Blossoms to me. Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold are eternal.
10) Finally ... and I have to ask you this, do you always play the music in the studio at MAX VOLUME?
That's funny, the engineering dept. put a governor on the studio's monitor system. It's locked at 60 db. Pathetic to me, who doesn't just want to hear it, I want to feel it!
What do you like to do for fun and relaxation when you're NOT in "radio" mode?
Besides playing guitar? I live near some of the most gorgeous places on earth. I know the secret places you don't. Tahoe is a half-hour away and Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay are a four-hour drive. I snowboard, I surf, and I love people.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
Wow, okay, the mood I'm in today? Keep in mind I have such a reverence for the library, and love each of my 3,000 CDs, and 4,000 vinyl albums. They're all in alphabetical order. I'll grab these 5: Led Zep "2," Beatles "White," Frank Zappa "One Size Fits All," AC/DC "Powerage" and David Bowie "Hunky Dory." Andy Warhol looks a scream, hang him on my wall!