10 Questions with ... Joe D
August 25, 2015
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job was here in Syracuse as an intern for our four-station cluster. Dave Frisina was an early influence for me. He was the APD of 95X when I first started and has been doing radio here in Syracuse for 35-plus years. He's well-liked and respected here and was good to me when I first started out. That left an impression on me. Don Kelly was also in influence, especially in programming. He taught me a lot about the art of scheduling music, building clocks and about music flow.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
It kind of happened by mistake. I was going to college for music performance (I have a degree in music performance, have played bass for 20 years and toured for two years) and I happened to see a flyer that 95X was looking for interns, so I applied and the rest as they say was history.
3) Can you give us a brief outline of your radio career to this point?
I started off as an intern for our four-station cluster in promotions. From there I was offered a part-time job as a promotions tech and eventually was promoted to a full-time position as Promotions Assistant. I started to branch out into programming picking up weekend shifts for 95X, then doing overnights and nights. I was then promoted to APD/MD of 95X and then three years ago, I took over as PD.
4) How long have you been at WAQX (95X) and what makes this station so unique?
I've been with our cluster for 13 years, six years for 95X exclusively. This station is 37 years old now, so we're the heritage Rocker in the market. There aren't a lot of Rock stations in the country that can say they've been around that long. There's been a lot of change over the years going from Classic Rock to Active Rock and then to our current "Rockternative" format, but the station has always been the home for all things rock in this market and will continue to be for years to come.
5) You have the dual role as PD and midday host ... how do you balance your time so both roles are effective?
It can be challenging some days, but I have a system of sorts for it. I'm a guy who is very organized, so that helps a lot. I try and plan out my day so that I get my off-air duties done before or after my air shift, but that doesn't always work out. I look at my on-air time as kind of my escape from everything else. That's the one time during the day I can be left alone, at least to some extent.
6) Let's talk about The Morning Mess with Marty, Shannon and Newman. How long has the show been on and how is it doing?
The Morning Mess just celebrated its one-year anniversary about a month ago. The show is only a year old, so we're still in the building stages but they've had a really solid first year. We're seeing consistent grow in ratings and revenue. Marty and Shannon had worked together for years with another station in the market, so their chemistry was already there, but they instantly clicked with Newman, which was crucial for us. I'm very pleased with where the show is right now and with its future potential.
7) 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?
Active Rock is showing signs of improvement, especially with the return of format staples like the Foo Fighters, Shinedown and Disturbed, but I wouldn't go as far as to say it's healthy and thriving. The biggest issue is the lack of strong up-and-coming bands, bands that are going to be the next generation of stars. I just don't think there are enough to maintain the format. That's one of the reasons we're dipping into the Alternative pool for bands. You can play the blame game when it comes to Active Rock, but the fact is there just aren't enough "rock stars" out there right now and that needs to change if the format is going to thrive.
8) You also do a Metal show every Saturday evening on 95X. Who are some bands you're playing on that show that could cross over to regular airplay on your station or Active Rock stations nationally?
Yes I do. It's called Saturday Night Scream. I've been a big metal head since I was 13 years old. There aren't a lot of bands in the metal scene with crossover potential right now. Bands like All That Remains, Bring Me The Horizon, In This Moment, Asking Alexandria and even Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot got their start in metal, but their sound had to evolve into something a little more mass appeal before they could really cross over. They're all having great success because of it. Trivium is the latest band to try and make the crossover and after hearing some of the new material, I think they'll have a good shot at it. Lamb of God is another band I could see taking the leap down the road, too.
9) How much does 95X use social media like Facebook and Twitter to interact with its listenes?
Social media is a big part of what we do. I look at it as an extension of the brand. It used to be that phones and e-mail were the only way to communicate with your audience on a daily basis, but now there are countless ways to interact. Facebook is still the leader, but Twitter is growing with the addition of things like Periscope and Instagram are becoming real players, too. Facebook is still the most popular for us, but we're seeing growth in Twitter and Instagram. Periscope is something we've just recently started to use, especially with our morning show, and it's starting to take off. I think it's great for radio just for the simple fact that it provides a visual for what we're doing in real time. Social media is really becoming a full-time job and I think you'll start to see more and more stations bring on people who focus solely on maintaining social media.
10) Finally, you are in one of the few markets in America that has two Active Rock stations. How did you do in the recent Spring ratings in your battle with Active Rock competitor WKRL (K-Rock)?
We had a really solid Spring book. We're seeing nice growth with our morning show and we continue to lead the pack in middays and afternoon drive. After struggling for a couple of years in morning drive, I think we finally have the right people in place to take the station to the next level. We've consistently been in the top 3 or 4 in persons and top 1 or 2 men over the past year-and-a-half and I look forward to building on that in the future.