10 Questions with ... Pat Martin
November 5, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first foray in broadcasting was at the age of 10 on The Art Linkletter Show, "Kids Say The Darndest Things." I did my college radio first at Cypress College in Orange County (with Rita Wilde of KLOS fame and now 100.3 The Sound in L.A.) and then at San Diego State University. My professional resume includes KGB/San Diego, KMET/Los Angeles and KRXQ/Sacramento. (By the way, Art Linkletter also went to San Diego State and was KGB's first PD.)
1) What was your first job in radio?
My first job was at KZIQ/Ridgecrest, CA. It was during the semester break my first year at San Diego State. I saw an ad in Radio & Records, applied for the job, and somehow got it. (I found out later I was the sole applicant). I did "morning tractor drive," was the MD and sold air time ... unsuccessfully.
2) I know you spent time at KGB in San Diego back in the day. When did you work there and what was your air shift and responsibilities?
I was hired at KGB in 1978 by a legendary programmer named Rick Leibert, who invented the KGB Chicken, the Skyshow, and the Homegrown album series. I was saddened to hear he had recently passed away. I certainly owe him a great deal of gratitude for my radio career. What he saw in me, I'll never figure out.
I spent 10 years there, with a one year break to work at KMET/Los Angeles. I started out doing weekend overnights at KGB, then daytime weekends, then 10p-2a, then middays for about six or seven of those years. I did all kinds of stuff ... you name it. I produced several of the KGB Skyshows, its annual fireworks extravaganza. I learned a lot from many talented people.
3) You recently celebrated your 25th anniversary at KRXQ (98 Rock). First of all, congratulations on this achievement. Now, can you give us a few major highlights from the last 25 years that still stand out for you?
Thank you. There are so many highlights I don't know where to start. We've had a lot of fun over the years. Okay, here's one: Bruce Springsteen played me "Thunder Road" in his dressing room on acoustic guitar. This was the early '90s, the E Street Band was on tour and had been doing three encores, ending with "Born To Run." Pam Edwards was a friend of mine from San Diego days and at the time working for Columbia. She arranged for us to meet Bruce during intermission. It was just the three of us and Bruce asked me what I did for a living. I told him I did radio and I was also in a band on the side, and by the way we were trying to learn "Thunder Road" but were having trouble working out an arrangement. So Bruce grabbed an acoustic guitar and sang it for us, calling out the chords as he went along. Pretty cool and a really nice guy. So at the end of the concert, after Born To Run, the band stood arm-in-arm and said goodbye. The house lights came on and the show was over, but about two-thirds of the crowd stayed, chanting for more. Amazingly, the house lights were killed and out came Bruce, alone, and with an acoustic guitar. The crowd was going crazy. He said "...we haven't been doing this one on this tour but I'll do it tonight. This is for all my old friends out there, and my new ones too." And he played "Thunder Road."
I once went to a party at Lars Ulrich's home in the Bay Area. Lars was kind enough to give my wife and me a personal tour of the art work in his home, worth many millions and quite impressive.
In Sacramento, I am generally known as the guy who put Tesla back together. It happened in 2000. The guys had been fighting for years and I somehow convinced them to resurrect their career with a comeback show at The Arco Arena. My secret was nothing more than a few bottles of nice wine. The boys are still going at it to this day. In fact, they're in Virginia right now writing a new album with Tom Zutaut.
4) You have been the midday anchor for 98 Rock for all these years. With the obvious changes in technology over the years, how much do you use social media like Facebook and Twitter to interact with your audience each day?
Social networking certainly doesn't hurt and we should all try to use it for all it's worth, which we do. But I've seen a lot of stations who put a lot of time and energy into social networking and have nothing to show for it, and vice versa. Look at KIIS/Los Angeles. It does practically nothing and is one of the biggest stations in the country.
Sometimes I think stations put way too much focus and energy in social networking and too little focus on the really important things ... like doing good radio ON the radio. By the way, we've found at KRXQ that text database pushes are very effective. They generally triple contest participation, resulting in more listening occasions. But let's not forget that the most important thing you can do is to do good radio, right now.
5) Give us some of the most effective midday music features you've done and still do at 98 Rock?
I haven't done a lot over the years really. I've done All-Request Lunch for a long time now and we do see a spike in the noon hour, so I suppose you could say it works. Sometimes the best music features are the ones done spontaneously, like Jim Ladd used to do on KMET. I did a little impromptu Halloween show using old horror movie trailers and my phones went crazy. I try to keep that rebel spirit of radio alive every chance I get.
6) I would also imagine you've interviewed a few rock stars in your time. What were some of the most memorable interviews and why?
The most memorable interview I ever did was really just a 45-minute conversation with Pete Townshend. To me he is the consummate spokesman for rock 'n' roll, and talking with him you get to experience the passion and intelligence he has for it.
I once interviewed Ozzy Osbourne at the same time he was on the cover of Rolling Stone, touting the new clean and sober Ozzy ... while I watched him snort coke and drink Jack all during the interview.
7) You are still an integral part of the 98 Rock music decisions. Who else is involved in this the process and approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play, and chart position when determining the status of a record?
Several people are in our meetings ... Jim Fox, John Boyle (our Promotions Director), Andy Hawk (our morning show producer and host of "Local Licks"), Leeanne Hansen (air personality), Cristi Cantle (our Imaging Director) and sometimes Cooper from Radio 94.7.
We tend to use charts as a way to remind us to listen to various records, not as a barometer of what we should play. About a year ago I took all the Rock stations on the chart, minus our own, and averaged their share and rank. I found that the average Active Rock station had about a two-share and was 13th in their market. So my point is, if you're okay being 13th with a two-share, then follow the chart religiously.
We try to look at all factors, add them up and make choices based mainly on what we think is the right business decision for 98 Rock. Every market and radio station is unique. You have to do what's right for you.
8) What's your take on current Active Rock music? Is it as good as six months or a year ago, better, or about the same?
It's not as good. It's been getting worse for a long time. That's why we're always looking for non-stereotypically Active Rock records to play, songs that will help us broaden our appeal as opposed to having a two-share. Interestingly, for the past three years in perceptual studies, the number-one reason people listen to our radio station is the air personalities, not the music. That speaks volumes about the passion they have for the music ... not a lot.
9) What are your three favorite artists or songs of this year and why?
Avenged Sevenfold "Hail To The King". The new Metallica.
Imagine Dragons "Radioactive". A cume-friendly song that will help you not get a two share.
Halestorm "Here's To Us". Makes you want to drink a beer, doesn't it?
10) Sacramento is the state capitol. Have you had any major state politicians calling in to your show with special requests?
I have a couple of friends in politics but no one has ever called. However, the mayor of Sacramento, former NBA great Kevin Johnson, declared it "Pat Martin Day" on August 8th, which was my 25th anniversary on KRXQ ... same shift, same station ... the longest running consecutive radio show in the market's history. I received an official proclamation and everything. Quite an honor.
What do you like to do for fun and relaxation when you're not in "radio" mode?
I do as much as I can to get away from radio. I listen to a lot of music that 98 Rock probably wouldn't play. My favorite hobby is my band "Animal House," which I've been in for 23 years. Vince DiFiore from Cake is our trumpet player and Jon Smith, the legendary saxophone player from Edgar Winter's White Trash Horns, also plays in our band when he's not busy with Tower of Power or whoever. We have a blast. But mainly I just hang out with my best friend, my wife. We go to movies, work on our house, and try real hard to never talk shop. (She's in radio, too)