10 Questions with ... Jim McClain
July 7, 2015
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job was at KBKB in San Diego. It was the automated Drake/Chennault FM that became KGB. It was the poor sister station the Brown's AM powerhouse KGB-A. I watched tapes, took meter readings and learned how to do production. As to early influences, Ron Jacobs, Shot Gun Tom Kelly, Jessie Bullet, Bobby Ocean, KO Baily, Chris Connor ... A lot of the old Top 40 guys. I was a young Marine, just out of a Navy hospital. While I was in the hospital, I attended the Bill Wade School of Radio &Television Broadcasting. All these Top 40 guys were great! They took me under their wings and taught me radio.
2) How long have you been working for Lotus Radio in Reno and what was your first position there for the company?
I was working for 104.5 KHIT Country, in Reno. Howard Kalmenson bought the station and we became part of Lotus Radio Corp. That was 1992 or 1993. I was APD, MD and 7p-12m.
3) Even before you started working there, KOZZ was one of the longest running and iconic Rock stations in Reno. Can you give us a brief history of the station and its influence in Reno?
KOZZ was THE first! KOZZ broke Northern Nevada's Album Rock cherry. There was nothing like it in the area. Other stations tried to get into KOZZ's AOR pants. That, in turn, led the consultants, at the time, to decide to shift KOZZ into a Classic Rock stance. KOZZ is Northern Nevada's version of, "Ohhh, I grew up listening to you."
4) Up until earlier this year, you did mornings on KOZZ on and off with market veteran Steve Smith. How long did you guys work together and what are some of the key highlights you can share from those years in mornings?
I was fortunate enough to play radio with Steve Smith for about 14 years. Those were some of the best times of my life. WE HAD FUN! The day to day on air stuff was just a blast! We liked to get out. From doing the show on top of the 30-story Atlantis Casino Tower, during construction, to trying to get Stevie to stop screaming when we did the show from the Tower of Terror in Disney's California Adventure. But it could be humbling. During 9-11 we stopped everything and pulled in resources from everywhere to let our listeners know what was going on. No matter how much fun we had doing the show, we made sure that our listeners knew what was going on around them.
5) You also spent quite a few years programming KOZZ. What kind of perspective did that give you in doing a morning show on the station at the same time?
Initially, I was at KOZZ as an off-air PD. We had to make a few changes within our morning show and I stepped in to fill the vacant spot until we found the right person to add. We clicked and I ended up staying in the morning. As an off-air PD, it's easy to forget the 'on the air' perspective. In doing both, I showed folks that I wasn't going to ask them to do anything that I wasn't already doing. I know, it makes for a long day, but when I was in the middle of it, I had a stronger light to find my way.
6) One of the programming challenges of the Classic Rock format has always been how you keep the station sounding fresh and relevant while it's playing Rock music that's sometimes 30 or 40 years old. Your thoughts?
To me, sounding fresh has a lot to do with rotation, bicycling and research, if you can. Keeping relevant has to do with being current. KOZZ is a 'current' radio station. By that, I mean that we may be playing Classic Rock music but we have always attempted to be an integral part of our community. Classic Rock stations, Classic Hit stations, Oldie stations come and go, or stay in the background. KOZZ is part of the fabric of our community. We are a current radio station. Folks listen to us to find out what's going on in the community as much as they do to listen to the music.
7) Let's talk specifically about the Classic Rock music on KOZZ. What five artists would you say are core to the station and why?
- Led Zeppelin
- Pink Floyd
- Rolling Stones
8) Now that you're doing middays on the station, are you doing any special features or benchmark music programming for the workforce checking out KOZZ during the day?
Middays we try to keep the music flowing. The only real benchmark is "3 on the Z." That's three sets of three tunes by three different artists. It's in the noon hour.
9) You've programmed KOZZ as well as done mornings and now middays. It would be safe to say you have become one of the most valuable employees at that station for years. To what do you attribute this staying power at the station?
Actually, I'm not sure about the 'one of the most valuable employees' part but I believe it all begins at the top. I couldn't ask for a better station owner. Howard is a broadcaster. He's a family broadcaster. Sure, he wants to make money but he really believes that we are doing what we do, as a public interest to our community. Our purpose is to help our community. From that, our GM Dane Wilt has guided us along for a number of years. Plus, I did mention that I am a Marine. Marines are taught to persevere. Oh, and Howard's a fellow Marine. That helps.
10) Finally, You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
- Lyle Lovett ... Live in Texas
- AC/DC ... Razors Edge
- B.B. King ... BB King & Friends
- Johnny Cash ... The Legend of Johnny Cash
- Doors ... Best of the Doors