10 Questions with ... Wes Nessman
September 30, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started as the "Speaker Stand" announcer at the Norwalk/La Mirada, CA Swap Meet. After moving to Texas worked at a tiny mom and pop called KKUB.
Headed to KFMX shortly after its launch. Stayed seven years, then moved onto Z102 Austin for two-and-a-half years (Classic Rock, now defunct).
From there went to KKZK Spokane, Washington for about a year-and-a-half when I was offered a chance to "write my own ticket" and get back to family in Lubbock, TX. This second stay has been over 20 years.
1. What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
For my first job, see my rundown above. I was fortunate enough to live in Orange County, CA during the great radio wars between KMET, KLOS and eventually KROQ. I grew up listening to Jeff Gonzer, Mary "the Burner" Turner, Jim Ladd, and Jed The Fish and Rodney on The Roq.
2. What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I had flirted with radio and was being led into areas I didn't want to be in (like news reporting and sales). I quit and ended up carrying five-gallon buckets of hot tar up ladders to roofing jobs. After many knuckle burns, I thought MAYBE I should give radio another shot and started to apply at KFMX.
3. How long have you been working for KFMX and how long have you been PD/MD?
I was only at KFMX three to four years when I made PD for the first time. I guess they wanted to save money or something, so they gave me the job (looking back, they really shouldn't have; I had no idea what I was doing).
4. For the last several months you've been working with your new OM Jave Patterson. Besides his penchant for a great cigar, what are some of the things you've learned from working with him?
Actually, our skill sets and experience are near identical. We agree on everything, which makes us a VERY formidable team. Instead of being Batman and Robin, we're Batman and Batman.
5. I know that KFMX is pretty aggressive with new rock musically. When you listen to new music, approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play, and chart position when determining the status of a record?
Gut is for adding records and charts are for rotation increases. It's that simple. As much as I may love a record, I can't "force" a hit. Either everyone is on board with a song's potential or they're not. Every time I hear Islander "Coconut Dracula" on the radio, I think, "Man, this song is a hit," but it's not because it doesn't have broad support. It has the hook and the sound, but for some reason people just aren't getting behind it, and I can't change that.
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? Give us your take on the Active Rock format as a whole.
Things were dire six months ago and maybe dire in the long run, but there are some VERY good things happening now. Nothing More and Royal Blood are showing we can add some strong new young bands to the format and I can't say enough about what the new Sixx A.M. is bringing to the table. I can't believe old-ass Nikki Sixx is partially responsible for taking rock a step forward. As far as the format goes, we've got no real choice but to skew older these days. The good news is that many of those people still embrace new music.
7. KFMX and the state of Texas, as a whole, have a great reputation for embracing great new rock and metal. How much influence, if any, does doing Rock radio in Texas have on the KFMX playlist?
Now you're getting me started on a history lesson. Malcom McLaren toured the Sex Pistols through the American South as a way to get conservative people stirred up. It worked and many other punk bands started booking through the same areas. As the music changed, the newer, harder bands kept going with those routes. For instance, while the Midwest was getting REO and Styx shows, we were getting Iron Maiden three times a year. I've been told by MANY record folk that most new music (at least used to) breaks from Texas because we had these newer, harder artists coming through. Now, does it mean anything to me that a record is getting a lot of "Texas" support? Not really. I talk records with The Painman out of KEYJ/Abilene and, of course, Kevin Vargas from KLAQ is our brand captain, but other than those two, there are no Texas stations that I'd include on a research panel. I'm interested in successful stations no matter where they're from.
8. What are your three favorite artists or songs of this past year and why?
Sixx A.M. Gotta Get It Right. Could have been a Meatloaf or even Queen song. They weren't afraid to just plain go for a hit record and take the chance to be called "uncool."
Rise Against-I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore. I have been waiting and waiting for this band to break. I don't think this song is necessarily that much better than previous efforts, but the fact that it's done well and I get to hear it over and over is awesome.
Anything and everything Slipknot/Stone Sour/Corey Taylor.
9. How much does KFMX use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help enhance the overall listener experience?
I am a social media madman. I love the fact that our radio station finally has a "face." I'm all over it from blogging on movie trailers, to politics to rock news. I love this area and I'm definitely in the right company to be a "digital guy."
10. Finally, I'm assuming that Wes Nessman is not your real name. Where and how did this name come about?
I hadn't really established an identity and news had just come over "The Source" (remember when all F.M. rock stations ran "The Source"?) that WKRP had been cancelled. On a whim I had the previous announcer introduce me as Wes Nessman (because my real first name IS Wes). It just stuck from there.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- The Clash-London Calling
- Anything From Monster Magnet
- Robert Gordon-Two Fast To Live, Too Young To die
- Earth, Wind and Fire's Greatest Hits
- Slipknot Volume 3: The Subliminal Verses