10 Questions with ... Matt Talluto
January 28, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WMTE/Manistee, MI. (5/93-12/94); WKLQ/Grand Rapids, MI (11/94-7/95); WVIC/Lansing, MI. (7/95-6/96); WBYR/Fort Wayne, IN. (6/96-12/6) WHQG-Milwaukee, WI (1/07-9/13); WBYR/Fort Wayne, IN (1/6/14...NOW!)
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first gig was at a station in Manistee, MI. Market #4,097,692 (Population: 17). We had NO LOGS and played anything we wanted on two home stereo CD players. If either of them broke, we were screwed!! Our engineer, whom I never met, lived two-and-a-half hours away. Luckily that never happened. My show rocked balls (according to me, anyway). I used to play Eddie Van Halen's full live guitar solo from "Right Here Right Now" at 1 in the afternoon for no other reason than I just wanted to. I'd also use my cheesy-ass Casio SR-16 keyboard to provide my ... "FX" ... in my production. This was WAAAY back in the cart and reel-to-reel days, which has me appreciating all the digital toys we have with Adobe and NexGen today. I think all interns should learn prod on carts and reel so they have an understanding of what their system is really doing AND to realize how incredibly easy they have it today.
As for early influences? I grew up in Detroit during its greatest era in radio. From AM talk giant J.P. McCarthy, to JJ and The Morning Crew, and everyone that made their way through the almighty WRIF. From Ken Calvert, Doug Podell and the great Drew and Mike. I salute and thank them all. Then, of course, there's Howard! If you're on the air in any Rock format and say you HAVEN'T been influenced by Howard, you're lying!
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Simply put, I was the class clown in high school and LOVED entertaining people. I found making kids laugh a lot more enjoyable than anything Mrs. Kelly or Mr. Rohrer were teaching. Detention was where I REALLY honed my skills. I thought of it as my encore! I was the kid teachers WISHED would skip class but never did. That's where my audience was. Not that I was a troublemaker, but I took the attention away from teachers. Call them jealous if you will. Combine that with my love for music ... bingo! I enrolled at Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts and a year later I left the cabinet shop for radio.
3) Congratulations on your return to Ft. Wayne as PD of WBYR (98.9 The Bear). How does it feel to be back at The Bear and what makes this station so unique?
Thanks! Anytime you can come to a city with a built-in audience is always a good thing. Starting from scratch to gather new listeners isn't the case here. It feels great to be back because we're in decent driving distance again so our kids can see their grandparents and cousins more often. Plus this is where some of my favorite memories in radio happened. From being invited to jam onstage with Sammy Hagar to working and learning from my mentor, Jim Fox. To think I'm now occupying the chair Jim taught me in ... that's just awesome! I only hope I can influence some up-and-comer the way he did me. As for the uniqueness of this station, we're able to stretch our legs a little more in terms of creativity. What seems to scare others in management in your bigger markets, we're given the freedom to execute at The Bear. It's what makes Rock radio so fun. There's been no homogenization here!
4) After working for a decade at The Bear, in 2006 you left to do afternoons at WHQG (The Hog) in Milwaukee. How was that experience?
I loved it! Milwaukee is an awesome city. Not sure if they invented the art of tailgating, but they definitely perfected it! Plus, I was reminded by Keith Hastings that any topic is fair game as long as you don't force the listener to have to turn the dial because their kids are in the car. Be intelligent and avoid talking to the lowest common denominator and your audience only grows. And let's face it: Satellite radio has taken the shock out of words once thought to be "edgy and cool." Use your brain. There are a lot more intelligent people listening than there are imbeciles. (Though, I know it doesn't seem like it most of the time.)
5) You've mentioned that over the past 20 plus years, you've had the pleasure of working with some of Rock radio's most influential PDs. Who are they and what did you learn?
Well, I mentioned Jim Fox and Keith Hastings. Another guy I learned my preparedness from was John Rozz, currently running 93X in Ft. Myers. John's attention to detail is impeccable. The more prepared a jock is for his show, the more natural the show sounds. But Jim Fox is my programming Mr. Miyagi. Jim was the first to say screw prep services. Your life is YOUR OWN prep service. Go live it. He was right. My listeners have been in on every life experience I've had, from my son's first audible heart beats while still in the womb to how my wife ... well ... you know. He was the one who taught me to "connect" with the audience. Plus, look at what Jim's been able to do with 98 Rock in Sacramento.
6) 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?
There is sameness in not only Active Rock, but new music in general which has me thankful for our gold categories. The balancing act is as important now as it ever was. I personally can't wait for Rock's next garage band. Raw and gritty! Like GnR sounded when they first came out. Enough with the over-polished sound. If you're in a band, let Dave Grohl produce your record. He gets it!
7) I know you're new in the chair at The Bear, but what is your first order of business as PD for the station?
Besides returning your call? Breathe some new life into promotions. Simplify our website. And let the air staff know that none of their jobs are on the line ... yet! Nothing sucks more than a new PD coming in and feeling he's going to replace you with "his guy." That's not my style. That's the beauty with this station. It's got personality, but a little direction never hurts. And these guys are cool as hell.
8) How much does The Bear use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help enhance the WBYR experience with its listeners?
The Bear and its staff are all over social media. These guys connect on FB and Twitter like no one else. If you're not using it to further promote your brand in 2014, you should start looking for a new career path. But then, some focus so much on social media that they forget their REAL product is still what comes out of the speakers.
9) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
Keep them simple! Easy to read and easy to navigate. Keep the pictures of chicks with oiled-up breasts, of course, but we live in a NOW culture. If I can't find what I want NOW, I'm gone! Keep the jocks pages quick and witty, but all their crazy stuff linked to Facebook and Twitter. It just clutters up the site. We've all heard the phrase "less is more." Well, there you go.
10) Okay, you knew this was coming: How did you get the nickname "Gasman"?
If I had a dime for every time THIS question was asked! In 1998 we had a 9a staff meeting with the GM, consultant, etc. The previous night we presented the Ted Nugent concert during which I enjoyed a ton of draft beer and then Taco Bell on the way home. That morning I had rot gut and let one of the nastiest morning-after farts ever...in the middle of the meeting. Cleared the damn room! Thought for a minute I might even lose my job. The next day our morning guys told the story in great detail on the air. Sure they could have talked about our President at the time having an affair with a certain intern and his fascination with what cigars could be used for. But apparently my ass was more interesting! It was the listeners who started calling me "The Gasman".
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
- "Delicate Sound of Thunder" - Pink Floyd (live)
- "Absolutely Live" - The Doors
- "Double Live Gonzo" - Ted Nugent
- "Coverdale Page" - Coverdale Page
- "Balance" - Van Halen (a very underestimated masterpiece)