10 Questions with ... Cutter
January 13, 2015
1. What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first gig was actually doing weekend overnights at WAPL, so it all goes full circle. My radio influences were really two people. Lou Brutus as I religiously listened to Harddrive every weekend. I specifically remember listening in my bedroom as a teenager and thinking that's what I want to do. Play the best music out there on the radio and have conversations about the music with those who wrote it. The other was Randy Hawke, (Randy, I'm not trying to kiss your ass here.) I felt the same way listening to Randy daily on WAPL as I did when listening to Lou ... just a feeling of that's what I want to do. It's been funny to since I've been doing a syndicated classic metal show called Hangar 19 the last few years I've been able to play some of my favorite music on the radio while having killer conversations with the artists that wrote those tunes. Now I've incorporated a lot more of that into my afternoon show as well.
2. What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
First and foremost I'm a musician and have been playing guitar since I was 10 years old. When deciding in high school on a career, I just kind of picked radio because I loved listening so much, but my teachers didn't take me seriously when I said I wanted to be a rock star so radio it is. Let's be honest: It's very hard to make a living being a musician. So I thought at least with radio I can still be close to music and it would hopefully still allow me to play in a band. The moment I realized it was when my band was playing a gig opening up for The Donnas at the old Concert Café in Green Bay and I had the crowd eating out of my hands as the front man of the band. Between that and my love of the history of music I knew radio was for me. PS: I'm the worst singer in the world but it was punk rock!
3. Congrats on your "official" nod as MD for WAPL and WZOR (Razor 94.7), but I know you've been doing afternoons on Razor 94.7 for quite a while. How long have you been working for WZOR and what makes this station so special?
I started with Razor in 2002 and quickly moved up to be the APD of the station and eventually took over mornings. During the economy bust of '08/'09, my position was eliminated and I found myself on the streets. After not being able to find a good enough gig, I went back to school. Keeping in mind that right after that happened, my wife and I had our first child. I came back to Razor in 2012 and being again such a huge fan of the music, taking over music became a no-brainer. What's cool is being able to be the MD of not only Razor but the station I grew up listening to in WAPL as well. What makes Razor so special is our unwillingness to conform. Rock has taken many different turns since the station launched 15 years ago but we just stick true to playing the best hard rock we can and trying to build new core artists. The other part of it is we are at every concert, we are out at bars, and we just generally tend to hang out with our listeners and try to be a part of their life as much as we can. We live and breathe rock music and the lifestyle that goes with it in northeast Wisconsin.
4. Now that you'll also be the Music Director for WAPL, give us your take on this very successful heritage Rock station?
WAPL is an anomaly in the current radio world. Musically we do what you'd expect a classic heritage Rock station to do but we dig deeper with specials, A-Z, charity events that are successful and a morning show that's been on the air on WAPL since the '80s. Our personalities are gigantic and are just as much a part of Wisconsin as beer, cheese and that football team that wears the colors green and gold. The station continually has very strong ratings and we have local and national clients that stick with us. We are allowed to do what we do by our parent company Woodward Communications and all these things together allows us to have this continued success.
5. 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?
All of that kind of comes into play. It's very hard to put each of those on percentages as that could be different for each song. I check and pay attention to chart position, to sales and of course video play and research, but at the end of the day a good song is still just a good song. If it's a good tune that is also selling and the research is huge, then it's a no-brainer. Certain bands are no-brainers as well and that's just being in tune with your audience and knowing what they like as a whole. When it comes to new bands I'm looking for that feeling you get when you hear a song for the first time and you know you have to hear it again and again. If I get that feeling than I know other people may as well and therefore I feel better about taking a chance on it then maybe I would otherwise.
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.
It's better as there aren't as many bands that are following a formula right now. The fact that two of the biggest bands at the format like the Foo Fighters, who are really just a straightahead rock and roll band, and Slipknot, who are flat-out a metal band, speaks volumes about the health of the scene. We have bands with girl singers, we have blues-based bands, metal bands, rock and roll bands and everything in between. More importantly there are some bands being creative again and not working with the same six songwriters that write everyone else's records.
7. Razor 94.7 has long had a reputation as a "tastemaker" station ... especially when it comes to new rock and metal. How do you balance that so it doesn't adversely affect the station's cume and TSL ... especially during the day?
Well that's the trick then, isn't it? I guess really it's just a matter of when we play new music; we make sure that there's good library songs around it. So really our library is extremely important as we want to make sure when you tune in to hear your favorite Alice in Chains, Metallica or Slipknot tune, you hear it. At the same time we want to find your new favorite song as well. Taking the music and then incorporating strong promotions and high end personalities we hope that you're tuning in and staying for a bit.
8. What are your three favorite artists or songs of last year and why?
- Crobot: I love the energy of this band live and they are incredible players. Plus they are just solid dudes that are here to rock. The song "Nowhere to Hide" did really well for us and I expect bigger and better things for them in 2015.
- Like a Storm: Again here's a case of a band that's just solid and doing things they're own way. Good dudes, great live show and solid songs.
- Exodus: Okay, we haven't played this song outside of our metal show but as an old school metal head to have a band like this come back with their longtime singer Steve "Zetro" Souza and have their original guitarist Kirk Hammet (who you may know from Metallica :)) play a solo on the song "Salt the Wound" it's hard not to be excited about it. Plus it's some of the best thrash metal that's been out in a long time.
9. Where and how did the name Cutter come about and what does it all mean?
I have made up three different stories to go along with this question as I tend to get asked this a lot. One involves my being a minor league baseball pitcher and before I threw out my shoulder, my pitch of choice was the cutter. Another involves a prison incident, but the truth is when I started in radio I needed a name. My real last name of Puyleart wasn't exactly the catchiest name around. I wanted something bad-ass sounding so we came up with Cutter and the name stuck.
10. Finally, I know that you're a huge Green Bay Packers fan. This is a two- part question. How do you think they'll do in this weekend's NFC Championship against the Seahawks and have you ever worn a Cheesehead at one of their games at Lambeau Field?
How about the real America's team -- the Green Bay Packers? This team has the MVP and is just full of grit and it's hard to envision them not finding a way to win a game. With that being said, the NFC Championship against the Seahawks is going to be as tough as it gets, but as long as it doesn't end with a Russell Wilson Hail Mary that's intercepted but also caught for a touchdown, I think we have a chance. I so bad want to see the first play of the game be a bomb to Jordy Nelson right over the top of Sherman for a touchdown just to shut that guy up.
I have never worn a cheesehead to Lambeau Field. In reality, I haven't been to too many games at Lambeau as tickets are really kind of hard to come by. You have to know someone who has season tickets who aren't going to a specific game or else you're paying out of your ass for secondary tickets. I did though go to the Return to Titletown celebration after the '96 Super Bowl in below zero weather and had my shirt off. It's okay, though, because you lose feeling pretty quick and then it doesn't hurt anymore.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
- Metallica - Master of Puppets
- Alice In Chains - Unplugged
- The Doors - L.A. Woman
- Corrosion of Conformity - Deliverance
- Avenged Sevenfold - Waken the Fallen