10 Questions with ... Lenny Diana
March 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WDRE, WWCP, WQXA, WXDX, WEDG, WRZX, WBTU, and WWSK. Jesus...
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I listened to a lot of radio as a kid. Growing up on Long Island you had the weird position to hear not only New York radio stations, but radio stations from New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as the local stations. I fell pretty hard for everything WNEW at an early age. Then my goofy friends and I came across WLIR and everything else compared to those two stations at the time seemed boring. It's nothing against these other stations. In hindsight, most of them had great programmers and personalities but I was hypnotized but those two. Then when I interned at WDRE I ran into some nefarious characters such as Tom Calderone, John Loscalzo and John Moschitta. They left a positive impression about radio and a foundation in which to deal with pretty much everything in the medium.
2) One of your earliest radio experiences was working at the old WDRE in Long Island. What was it like working for a station in your hometown?
It was a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to do that twice both at WDRE and WWSK. That station was very different than any other station I've worked for since. I'm going to be ramble now and try to explain it as I saw WDRE. Truthfully speaking, I was an intern there and was more like a footnote. There was this belief that WDRE could become a network. I was hired as a promotions director to WWCP, which was an affiliate of WDRE that Jarad Broadcasting bought at the time. From that experience I know that networks are great in theory, horrible in listener experience. Even today as the technology has become seamless in execution, I see a big chunk of the Underground Network in all of the silly shit going on today.
Back to WDRE ... Tom was this "man behind the curtain"-type guy. Always on the phone, always had music playing, the radio was always on, and a TV on in the background. If there is something I learned from Tom way before the word "multi-tasking" was a thing, was to multi-task as much as you can. He had a great group of personalities between John Loscalzo, Malibu Sue, Donna Donna, Jodi Vale and Darren Smith. Gary Cee, Dan Binder, and Steve Kass were weekend jocks. Everyone was very passionate about what they did on the station.
Michael Parrish was in the music department. He never spoke much. But when he did it'd be situations like him throwing me an advance cassette when I walked into his office and would say, "Here's an album by this band called Radiohead. I'm pretty sure they will be making music for the next 25 years." He's not that far off looking back on that now.
I guess what never gets talked about is the somewhat left-of-center owner, Ron Morey, who by the way, was the voice of Levi jeans for years. He could've taken this signal-challenged stick and probably could have crushed doing sports or five other formats, but he never budged. As I worked in radio though the years, I always wondered why he was content on taking this tougher road. Because it's weird on Long Island, WLIR/WDRE is loved by a very small core of people (kind of like metal music fans) and at this point, life has moved on from that moment. All I come up with was that he liked the music a lot, but he liked the mix of what the music became with the people he had.
3) You've also worked in markets like Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Indianapolis. Care to share any highlights from those years and radio stations?
No. Truthfully, no one would read the answer to this question anyway. What I can say is that I worked with a lot of great people at these stations.
4) Congrats on your new gig as Brand Manager for Active Rock WLZX (Lazer 99.3) and Classic Rock WAQY (Rock 102). You've been in this position since January. What's your early take on these stations and the market competition in Springfield?
While I'm still a newbie, I believe we have two great radio stations in a competitive market and I look forward to growing the radio stations across all platforms along with the great staff that's already here.
5) Since you're working with an Active and Classic Rock station, how much library music are these stations sharing with each other and how do you keep these products different and yet competitive with each other in the market?
They are both Rock stations. There will be music that both will share because it is viable to what we believe the brand identity is for both Rock 102 and Lazer 99.3.
6) You are known as a very candid and opinionated music person. What's your take on current music in the Active Rock format? Is it as good as six months or a year ago, better, or about the same?
Active Rock is an industry-invented term that has been abused by a small group of people. Too many left- and right-of-center bands have been given way too much real estate for a long time. While I do not believe the format is in a great place as a whole, I believe that reinvention of the format is long overdue. That time is now.
7) Now I'd love your take on the Classic Rock format. How do you keep music that has been played for up to 30 or 40 years on the radio sound fresh and relevant today?
These are the greatest rock songs ever written. The format has an unbelievably high passion level still to this day. It's also a format that has weeded most of the stiffs and embarrassing moments over the years. Every song you hear on Classic Rock stations are home runs. My sincerest apologies to band like Frank Marino's Mahogany Rush and Danger Danger for being excluded from the after-party.
8) You're a very passionate Rock guy. Who are some of your favorite new Rock acts over the last year and why?
The last two Arctic Monkeys albums have been fantastic. The first three albums always seemed a bit directionless to me as I always felt the band was searching for its sound. Suck It and See was criminally overlooked. I think Tommy Delaney has done a great job with the AM album. And that album has depth in a time where we are depthless.
A new band that I feel has a lot promise is Devour The Day. That's a surprising one because they were the rhythm section of a very generic "active" rock band before they showed that they are good songwriters.
There are a buttload of blues-influenced bands that are out now that seem to have some momentum right now. I'm guessing Jack White's hundred bands and The Black Keys had a lot to do with that influence. I'm looking forward to meeting the next Eric Clapton.
9) How much do both Lazer 99.3 and Rock 102 use social media (Facebook, Twitter) as a marketing tool?
From what I can see, it looks like the Facebook pages were created later than most. We are there because we have listeners on it and we interact with them on the social media monster. It's tough to market your brands on Facebook due to the limited views of your posts from the people who click like on your page. If you advertise something that you can profit from, good luck reaching your people. However, a picture of a girl in short shorts with the bottom of her ass hanging out gets shared way beyond the people on your page.
The people who can successfully market on Facebook are Facebook itself. They use us as the product and package us to advertisers. Please don't read that as bitter. Read that as reality. I'm more of a Twitter fan because that it is so quick and effective. I'm still trying to figure out how people actually see one tweet and react to it, but I'm sure it's better than Facebook. With all that being said, let me go against everything I just ranted about to say that we do use all social media as much as we can because we still want to hang with our crew.
10) Finally, with a new baseball season right around the corner, are you a Yankee or Mets fan and what place will each of these New York teams end up in by season's end?
I'm a Yankees fan but programming in the Red Sox nation that team and its iconic logo is looked upon kindly. I don't hate the Mets. I have a lot of friends who suffer for months at a clip with them. They are trying to straighten out as best they can after that teams last few years with what feels like a lot of non baseball issues that has affected the team. I have no idea how either team will do this year.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?