10 Questions with ... Mike "Hurricane Shane" Schoenherr
October 7, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WRXK/Ft. Myers 90-91
- KQRS/Minneapolis 91
- KSEZ/Sioux City Iowa 94
- WROC/Ft Myers 94-96
- WRAX/Birmingham, Al 96-03
- WBPT/Birmingham, Al 04-11
1. What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Overnights on WHEW Country 102 in Ft Myers, FL in April of 1986. The format was Country and the owner insisted his jocks talk between every song and every commercial. The station sold up to 30 units an hour. That's where I learned how not to do radio, but it opened the door for me and I'm grateful for the opportunity I was given.
2. What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I used to listen to the morning shows in Minneapolis while working in an auto parts warehouse, and was jealous because it sounded like they were having a lot more fun at their jobs than I was at mine. And they made it sound so easy. Hines & Bergland on WLOL, Tom Barnard on KQRS, and Buck & O'Connor on KDWB were incredible talents. Little did I realize how much preparation went into being so naturally gifted. I signed up at Brown Institute Broadcasting school and the adventure began. I still miss those 50-cent drafts at the Pink Poodle with my classmates at break.
3. Congrats on your new position as PD for WVRX. How long have you been in the chair at the station and what were some of your first impressions of 95.7 The X?
After spending the past 10 years working in classic hits and Triple A, my first impression was JESUS CHRIST THIS STATION IS LOUD. I've spent a lot of time listening to Active Rockers in my life, but this one was a notch louder than everybody else. I've been incredibly impressed with the management and talent in the building on all the stations in the cluster and our promotions department is second to none. I look forward to using all the tools provided and taking The X to the next level.
4. You are running the syndicated Free Beer & Hot Wings Morning Show. How are they working for you in the Knoxville market?
The station brought the guys in for a market visit last year and I'm told they sold around 300 tickets to listeners to watch the guys do their morning show at 10 bucks a pop. I'm looking forward to bringing them back in 2015. Knoxville is Free Beer and Hot Wings country.
5. You also do the afternoon show on The X. How do you find time for programming the station and doing a prime drivetime shift?
It's a common issue these days that if you spread yourself so thin does any part of your day get your best efforts? It's a challenge, that's for sure. But I've got a friend who programs three stations in his building, is the format coordinator for the company he works for and works with the company's other stations across the country, does a midday shift and has two small children at home that need his attention. If I complain he has every right to drive to Knoxville and take me out with a bat. Plus after working a real job for a year while on the beach, you will never hear a complaint out of me. Real jobs suck hard.
6. I know that WVRX 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?
As far as the library, I'm fortunate to be working for a company (Midwest Communications out of Green Bay, WI) that values research. My time working with the Cox Media Group showed me the importance of research, and I have the tools at my disposal here to ensure our library is right for the audience. As far as newer music, it's a combination of things. Not having a true competitor in the market, we don't need to go very far out on the branch when it comes to new music. We play it pretty safe, but if something comes along and catches my ear, thankfully I have the freedom here to go ahead and put the song on the air. As a perfect example, Red Wine Hangover out of Nashville. Their song "Blue As Your Eyes" caught my ear immediately, plugged it in for some night time test spins, loved the way it sounded on the air, and put it in rotation. Kind of like what radio was like when I first started.
7. Besides Active Rock, you've programmed Alternative and most recently a Triple A station. What's your fresh 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.
The Active Rock audience is a loyal, tight-knit audience. They will run through fire for you. They are the common man and the everyday woman. That's who we're here for. As far as the format, it's like most any other format. Programmers have to be careful that the music doesn't all sound the same. Like in Alternative when Blink first popped up, the people went nuts for them. Next thing you know you have 10 other bands that sounded just like Blink, and it made the Alternative stations sound like a big clump of Blink. Don't get me wrong, Blink was great, but programmers were either too lazy or more likely too busy with their other duties that were thrust upon them thanks to deregulation to go out and look for different sounds, with a few exceptions. I was fortunate to work with one of those programmers in Birmingham, and he taught me a lot about music and how to program it. Active got into a bit of the same predicament. Creed and Nickelback both popped around the same time, and the next thing you know most every other new band out there had the same sound. The best programmers keep a close eye on that.
8. What are your three favorite Active Rock artists or songs of this past year and why?
I've only been back in the Active Rock arena for a little over two months, but songs that jumped out to me immediately are "Voices" from Alice in Chains, so melodic, Volbeat's new track "Doc Holliday" -- just try not getting a speeding ticket while driving with that one blasting in your car, and pretty much anything from Tool. I've been a huge fan of them since I first played them on KSEZ in Sioux City when I was Tim Harrison's MD.
9. How much does WVRX use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help enhance the overall listener experience?
I'm embarrassed to say we haven't been as active as I'd like us to be with social media, outside of the random comical posts on Facebook to try to get a listener to smile or laugh. We do use Triton Digital, which is a program that provides rewards to listeners via points they accrue taking various quizzes and such on the website, points they can use to purchase everything from music downloads to ATVs. I am looking to use Twitter more in the future as a way to upgrade concert tickets for listeners and also provide backstage access to shows coming to Knoxville, which by the way is right between Nashville and Atlanta, a nice little stop between markets for bands looking to fill open dates. We have some amazing venues here at your disposal. If you're not playing you're paying folks, let us help you upgrade that van to a sweet Fleetwood motor home tour bus!
10. Finally, where and how did the nickname "Hurricane Shane" come about?
When I was between jobs up in Minneapolis, the local Active Rocker had an afternoon jock by the name of Hurricane Wayne I listened to every day. He was by far the most entertaining solo pm drive jock I'd ever heard, and when I got back in the business I emulated what he did on my show. I stole his shtick. A friend of mine brought me back down to Southwest Florida to run an Active Rock start up, and needed me to come up with a name other than the one I was using, which was Randy Michaels. Whoops. Shane is part of my last name, and what ya know it rhymes with Hurricane. Cheesy yeah, but people remember it, and the results have been pretty good. It's turned what was a hope and a wish into a career. I believe that Hurricane Wayne goes by Cane Peterson now, and the last time I had satellite radio he was on Octane and Ozzy's Boneyard. Great as ever.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- Metallica- Black
- Frampton Comes Alive
- Neil Young- Decade
- Black Keys- El Camino
- Sam Kinison- Live from Hell