10 Questions with ... Tori Thomas
May 6, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WSPI/Shamokin, PA, WZXR/ Williamsport, PA , WZZO/ Allentown-Bethlehem, PA, WMMR/Philadelphia, WLEV/Allentown-Bethlehem, PA ,WBSX/Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, PA.
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I started at WSPI as a secretary when I was a senior in high school. I kept bugging the PD to put me on the air. It took me three weeks to break him. The PD was Rick Ricigliano; he gave me my first shot to be on the air. Robin Lee -- former WZZO PD -- is my mentor. She hired me as Promotions Dir. at WZZO. I always tell people that I went to the Robin Lee School of Broadcasting. I am where I am today because of her.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
When I was 12, I wrote a letter to my local radio station to tell them I liked three songs they were playing. About a week later, they played all three songs and dedicated them to me -- and I actually was listening at the time. From that point on, I was hooked! The three songs -- Rainbow "Since You've Been Gone," Jefferson Starship "Jane" and Triumph "Lay it on the Line."
3) You worked at Heritage Rocker WZZO in Allentown for years. What are some of the highlights of your time there?
There were so many, but my biggest thrill came while I was Promotions Dir. Robin Lee was PD. Def Leppard was coming to the Allentown Fair and I suggested we challenge the band to a game of soccer to benefit a local charity. Robin knew I was a rabid Def Leppard fan, so she allowed me the freedom to plan the promotion from the ground up. It was a huge success, but we DID lose the game.
When I was PD, I was involved in the creation and launch of our station performance theatre. We had many bands come to the stage and do intimate VIP shows for our listeners. Some of the acts included: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Halestorm, Theory of a Deadman, Black Stone Cherry, Sebastian Bach, Jackyl, Queensryche, and even Weird Al Yankovic.
4) How long have you been at WBSX (97.9 X) and what makes this station so unique?
I arrived in Wilkes-Barre in February. I was a fan of the station long before I started working here. The station has a history of being able to connect with listeners unlike any other station. The 979X Unfair Advantage text club is a good example of that. The station would secure a band for a secret show at a local club and with one text we'd have enough listeners show up to make it a full-blown concert -- sometimes in the middle of the day.
5) You have the dual role as PD and afternoon show host ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
I live and die by reminders in my outlook calendar! Plus my apartment is so close, I can see it from my office at the radio station. I spend less time on commuting and more time on work.
6) WBSX is a Cumulus station and I know about the weekly music calls with corporate. How much autonomy do you have in playing Rock that works for your market?
The weekly calls are equal parts an exchange of information, brainstorming ideas and music. Troy Hanson is my format captain. That guy has forgotten more about programming Rock stations than most people will ever know! He reaches out to the programmers under his per view individually either by phone or e-mail to see what songs we as are digging. I have never felt like I don't have control over the destiny of 979X. Troy, in my mind, acts as a great support system.
7) 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?
I wish I could say it's better. When it comes to new music there are a few stand-outs, but for the most part, it's a sea of sameness.
8) You guys run the "Free Beer & How Wings" morning show. How is that working for the station?
They are some of the nicest, hardworking guys in radio. Adam Sieminski (979X Imaging guru and morning show producer) has been instrumental in making the show have that local feel. He's amazing! He writes and produces liners and promos for the show every day. They happily do the reads every day with a quick turnaround time.
9) How much does WBSX use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with its listeners?
It appears that over the last year or so, the station wasn't as active on social media as it could have been. We're changing that.
10) Okay ... so I read your bio on the station website and it says you love animals. So my questions is ... dogs or cats and why?
If you would've asked me this question 15 years ago, I would've said dogs. But I cannot imagine my life without a cat. It doesn't matter; if it has four legs, wings, purrs or barks I love it!
What do you like to do for fun when you're not in "radio" mode?
I'm into all things spiritual and metaphysical and I am constantly trying to learn more. I have taken numerous spiritual development classes trying to broaden my horizons. When you lose a loved one suddenly, it gives you an entirely new perspective on life.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- "Just a Game" Triumph
- "Images and Words" Dream Theater
- "The Very Best of...." Rainbow
- "Leave a Whisper" Shinedown
- "King Animal" Soundgarden