10 Questions with ... Mud
November 25, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WBGG/Miami PD/on-air, August 2014 to present
- WNRQ/Nashville PD/on-air 2005 to August 2014
- WARO/Ft. Myers-Naples PD/on-air 1995-2005
- WDIZ/Orlando Morning drive personality 1993-1994
- KPNT/St. Louis Morning drive personality 1993
- WHVY/Baltimore Morning drive personality 1991-1992
- WMID Atlantic City Midday Personality 1990-1991
1) What was your first job in radio? Who were your early influences and mentors?
When I was in elementary school, I would travel with my Mom about an hour in the morning to drop my sister off at work. My Mom would then take me to school. I can remember hearing 77 WABC everyday for an hour on that morning commute. "The Morning Mayor," Harry Harrison would say, "Good Morning Mom, have your second cup of coffee." I would say ... Wow ... he's talking to my Mom and playing all these great songs. So, I learned a bunch about music and morning delivery on that hourly ride ... serious TSL!
As a teenager growing up in the New York metropolitan area, I would listen to the legendary WNEW-FM and say to myself, "Hey, I can do that ... play Rock & Roll and entertain people!" Plus in the back of my mind, I remembered those morning car rides and WABC.
I moved to Florida to attend The University Of Miami. I was exposed to the great radio station, WSHE ... "She's Only Rock & Roll." I was obsessed with the station and their personalities and once again I thought ..."Hey, I can do that!" On summer break from the U, I returned home to New York and heard that WNEW and Meg Griffin would be at The Bottom Line. I drove into the city to meet Meg and the staff. We started to talk about music and radio and Meg said to me, "You have a nice voice, have you considered doing radio?" That was it. I returned to the Univ. in the Fall and while earning a BBA at the University Of Miami, I started doing shifts on the College station. Here's the cliché. The rest is history!
On Memorial Day weekend 1984, after one weekend shift on Country WIXL/Newton NJ, I was asked to take over mornings on the sister station, Oldies WNNJ/Newton, NJ all for $160 a week!
2) Congratulations on your new position as the PD of WBGG (Big 105.9)/Miami. Before we talk about this new position, you came over from quite a few years as PD for the iHeartMedia Classic Rocker in Nashville WNRQ (105.9 The Rock). Can you give us the key highlights of that experience?
Thanks to Brad Hardin and Clay Hunnicutt bringing me into the Clear Channel/iHeart Media Family in Nashville, my career took off. Even though Nashville is known for its country music, Nashvillians love their Classic Rock! Nashville radio is filled with Country, Sports, Top 40, Urban and a ton of Rock competitors. The highlight for me was that during my tenure, The Rock in Nashville consistently ranked as a top station in Music City. I have to thank Michael Bryan, Dan Endom, the amazing team in Nashville and the EVPP/SVPPs I was privileged to work with. Without that position, I would never have achieved my dream job at WBGG/Miami!
3) Now let's talk about WBGG. You've only been in the programming seat for a few months. Give us your take on the health of Big 105.9 right now. What are its strengths and challenges as you move forward in the PD chair?
WBGG has had some rating challenges in the past that are now turning around. I've changed the music, imagery and orchestrated promos from my playbook that really create excitement. I am seeing early positive results. I have to thank the local Miami management team of Alex Tear and Lonny Anger for their support and Gene Romano and the executive programming team from iHeartMedia for their input and giving me the tools to win.
4) Being the "new guy" in the programming chair, how has this programming transition been working out so far with you and the staff?
It has been a fantastic transition! I'm fortunate to be working with tremendous long time radio vets. Paul & Young Ron and their entire team is absolutely the best morning show. The morning team is extremely funny, topical, irreverent and totally South Florida. Doc Reno is our longtime afternoon personality. He is the perfect PM-drive host and all about WBGG. We brought Aly in as our new midday personality. Her energy level, vocal quality and content are already making her a winner in South Florida. The entire staff is easy to work with and all are engaged and enthusiastic. You can't beat that!
5) Miami is an extremely diverse and competitive market. Is there a strong appetite for Classic Rock in the market and who would be your main competition?
South Florida loves Classic Rock! No matter what ethnicity or demographic, Classic Rock is a part of everyone's life. Movies, TV and commercials all use Classic Rock. 100% it is the greatest music ever recorded. The format is like pizza ... everyone digs a piece. My competitors are all the adult stations. The Oldies/Classic Hits station in town is my main competitor, but there is differentiation in the way the products are presented and between the oldies they air and the pure Classic Rock we play.
6) You've had a successful run programming Classic Rock. What's your take on the Classic Rock format as a whole?
Classic Rock is a part of everyone's life. We all grew up with it and our children grew up with that soundtrack as well. Wherever you go, Classic Rock is in the background. We all know the music, love the songs and feel comfortable with the tunes and their lyrics. Like "Comfort Food" it's a comfort format. Classic Rock music will live on forever.
7) One of the programming challenges of the Classic Rock format has always been how do you keep the station sounding fresh and relevant while it's playing Rock music that's sometimes 30 or 40 years old. Your thoughts?
A great Classic Rock station should sound fresh every time a listener tunes in. This is accomplished by playing the greatest music ever recorded and making sure you touch each genre and era. Besides the "gut" music decisions, research is very important. It is vital to change your rotation around and enhance programming by utilizing music features and special weekends.
The Classic Rock personalities need to deliver great content that's clear and concise every time they speak. Local topical relates also go a long way. Imagery campaigns need to be quick, creative, fresh and exciting. Promos need to be lifestyle oriented to target a Classic Rocker's needs. This is all part of the listener experience!
8) How interactive is WBGG with its audience via your website or social media like Facebook and Twitter?
Our website and all avenues of social media are very important to WBGG. The entire staff is engaged with every aspect of social media. I'm fortunate to have a great on line content department in Miami and nationally iHeartMedia is tops! All the jox blog, post, tweet and we even have a dedicated WBGG social media maven to get us out there!
9) Where and when did the nickname "Mud" originate?
The first morning I began my professional career in Newton NJ, I made a pot of coffee and I like it strong! When the other employees went to grab a cup, they went crazy, asking "Who made this coffee? It's like mud. Oh ... that new guy MUD!" That's my Mud story and I'm sticking to it.
10) Finally, I know that you're originally from the New York City area and a HUGE N.Y. Mets fan. When will the Mets compete again for a shot at the World Series?
Ken, 2015 for sure! They have great pitching, great hitting, some speed and serious D. I'll see you and your Giants in the NLCS next year! Let's go, Mets!
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- Beatles - Abbey Road
- Beatles - Revolver
- Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
- Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
- Bruce Springsteen - The Wild The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
* Extra one you gotta have: XTC - Upsy Daisy!