10 Questions with ... Bob Waters
May 12, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WTPA/2013-right now
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I wanted to be on the radio from the time I was about six years old, but as a teenager, the first time I heard Sarah Fleisher on 98 Rock in Baltimore, that was it.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Absolutely! Without hesitation.
3) How long have you been at WTPA and what makes this station so unique?
I've been with TPA for just over two years, and we're unique for many reasons. We're locally, independently owned first of all. Our decisions are made almost entirely in house. We have a small but very good, veteran staff, and everyone here has been in the area for a long time. Our afternoon guy, Diggs, is a native of the area and has spent most of his career in Central Pennsylvania. LeeAnn Taylor does nights ... she's a CenPenn veteran. Our midday guy is Randy Rock Johnson, who has been with TPA for the better part of the last 25 years. Even our weekend staff ... Bruce Bond is a legendary personality in Harrisburg. Bill Moulfair has been with the station ALL 35 years! Everyone genuinely likes everyone else; we respect each other. We all really kind of rely on each other for ideas and suggestions. There is a free flow of very communal thinking and a marketplace of ideas that exists here that I've never experienced before.
The biggest thing with TPA though is the heritage of these calls. TPA has been THE Central Pennsylvania radio staple for 35 years. Randy is an institution in this town. He's an icon. Bill's voice is synonymous with TPA 35 years later. Bruce was on TPA in the early days, too. Those who've come and gone, we all know, are owed our gratitude for laying this amazing foundation. We never forget that. They're important to our community, and certainly to us. And for all 35 years, TPA has been rockin'. TPA's done the Classic Rock thing, the Mainstream Rock thing, Active Rock, AOR. But for 35 years, without fail, WTPA has rocked Harrisburg and Central PA.
4) Last Fall, the station transitioned from Classic Rock to Mainstream Rock. What was the reason for the switch and how has the audience responded to the changes?
We kind of eased into it. We got (and continue to get) lots of help from Gary Jay and the amazing crew at Land Shark Promotion Studio. So the first month-two months, we were still primarily a Classic Rock station, but we added new titles into the mix. And it was pretty well received. And in the interest of appealing to a younger demo, we continued the transition into Mainstream. By now, we're basically an Active Rocker that still pays homage to some of the great acts of the past that still fit. And audience response has been great! Going back to our unique, long-standing relationship with our listeners, we've earned the benefit of the doubt. Our community likes us. We have an amazing core that we've been able to maintain and keep happy for the most part because WTPA has earned their trust over the years. And we've upheld our end of the bargain. We've been very selective and diligent.
5) Now that WTPA is playing some current Rock, what's your take on current music in the Rock format? Is it as good as a year ago, better, or about the same?
I think the quality right now is really strong. The new acts have chops, man. Royal Blood is at the head of the class. Highly Suspect is fantastic. The Temperance Movement ... Glorious Sons ... Kill It Kid ... The Rival Sons ... the sounds that these bands are kicking out right now are pretty special. I'm luckier than most PDs in that our GM Tim Michaels trusts me and grants me a certain amount of autonomy. We've given a look-see to J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and to Alabama Shakes, too. Great acts. These bands feel right to me right now. The vibe is right. The sound is right.
Now, you couple that with The Offspring's best song in a decade, this incredible Foo Fighters package, two killer songs from Muse, the coming of age of CenPenn's own Halestorm ... PLUS one of the biggest acts in Country music releasing an unbelievable song for our format. What's not to be excited about?
6) You've had success working in mornings and are also doing the morning show for WTPA. Who is on the morning show with you now and how is it performing?
It's doing well. It's billed as a solo show, but anyone listening knows better. I have a rolodex full of contributors. Most often it's stand-up comic and old high school buddy Charlie Charnigo. He's a remote partner, not in-studio unfortunately. He's hilarious and smart. We hit every topic imaginable ... nothing is off limits. When we hit on politics -- which we obviously will be doing a lot more often -- he provides a great conservative offset to my liberal rants, and vice versa. Charlie is usually in on about four or five bits a day. I'm lucky enough to have a local sports writer (who is really fantastic) in once a week. Harrisburg is a huge Penn State area, and we have former Penn State WR Scott Shirley, who heads up of an amazing non-profit called Uplifting Athletes, in on Fridays. We hustle for lots of interviews, too. We have lots of very key contributors who volunteer their time and add so much. The more voices, and the more opinions, the better. Overall, though, it is a music-driven show.
7) How do you balance your dual role as PD and morning host so both get the attention they require?
I have more homework than my kids. And my family is extremely patient and understanding.
8) How does your station effectively utilize social media as a marketing tool?
In all honesty, we don't utilize it enough. We promote the "Coming ups" on Facebook, but I'll admit ... we need to do a better job with social media. And we will...
9) Is WTPA doing any special major Spring book promotions you can share with us?
We're doing several, but ... Ha! Sorry. Nothing I can share...
10) Finally, I understand you're a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan and staff writer for the blog site Orioles-Nation.com. So ... how are the O's going to do this year and why?
This is a BIG year for the Orioles. The window closes, and probably stays closed for a while, after 2015. So ... Series! The O's over the Nationals in The Beltway Series.
What do you like to do to relax when you're not fully in radio mode?
As you said, I'm a big baseball guy. I catch the Orioles whenever I can. We live about five minutes from Harrisburg's City Island, home of the Harrisburg Senators (Double-A affiliate of the Nationals), so many nights you'll catch my family and I there. I read a lot, but when I'm not radio mode-ing, I'm in family mode.
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- XTC - English Settlement
- R.E.M. - Document
- The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's
- Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
- John Mellencamp - John Mellencamp