10 Questions with ... John Rozz
June 14, 2016
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
My first job in radio was at WKST; at that time, it was a small AM station in New Castle, PA. That was back-in-the day of slip-cueing 45s and back-timing the news at the top of the hour (ahh...a lost art). My earliest influence was my very good friend, Mark Razz. I met "Razz" at Slippery Rock University -- he was my first PD at the college radio station.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Much like many young men, I wanted a career in sports ... but that wasn't in the cards. After a knee injury in college, I felt the next best thing to playing football was calling the games. I began to do color commentary and play-by-play and loved it! I knew in the fall of 1982 that radio was "it" for me!
3) Before we talk about your current programming gig for WARO and WXNX in Ft. Myers, you've had a long and successful career programming great Rock and Classic Rock stations. Give us some of your best career highlights.
One of the biggest thrills for me was saying on the radio, "102.5 'DVE," the station I grew-up listening to in Pittsburgh. I had the pleasure of working for a few heritage Rock stations over the years and learning from some of the best in the industry. Working at WDIZ in the 80s ... the old WSHE in Miami and the beginning of Classic Rock at WBGG in Miami are just a few of the highlights.
4) Now let's talk about Ft. Myers. How long have you been programming Classic Rock WARO (945 The Arrow) and Active Rock WXNX (93X)?
I began programming WARO (945 The Arrow) in 2009 and was working in the building when ownership made the decision to flip one of our properties to WXNX (93X) four years ago this week!
5) You also worked for Active Rock competitor WRXK (96 K-Rock). What kind of perspective can you offer from previously working for the competition?
When I programmed WRXK for 10 years, it was a Classic Rock station. K-Rock has always been programmed as a 'personality first' radio station -- the music is secondary. I understand the competitive situation and how Beasley doesn't want to lose in their home market.
6) Ft. Myers is one of the few markets in the country that sports two Active Rock stations. What sets 93X apart from WRXK?
What sets WXNX apart is we're all about the music. Yes, we have talk with Billy Madison in the morning, but the entire radio station and the majority of our promotional efforts focus on our music brand and active lifestyle.
As mentioned, WRXK is driven by their personalities in morning (Bubba) and afternoon drive (Stan and Haney). These are two big talk islands; each appeals to a unique audience. Also, they carry Miami Dolphins football on Sundays. The remainder of their programming is Active Rock.
7) With a fresh perspective of programming a Classic and Active Rock station, what's your take on current Active Rock music and the Active Rock format as a whole?
Active Rock is in a difficult position. It's my favorite format to program ... but frankly, the format appeal is challenged without a heritage morning show. What everyone is seeing in research is the limited appeal of much of the new music. Tried-and-true classics always test well. This is why you're seeing a movement to more Classic Rock in the Active Rock mix. As we all know, music is cyclical, so fingers-crossed for the next big rock surge!
8) Now let's talk about WARO. The Classic Rock format has been thriving the last few years, particularly in PPM markets. You've had lots of experience programming this format. What are some of the key ingredients to keeping a Classic Rock station sounding fresh and relevant?
First, it's just great music! Who doesn't like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, AC/DC, the Eagles, Tom Petty? All you have to do is watch TV and listen to the commercials to know how powerful and appealing Classic Rock is today. When currents get soft, when the country is in turmoil, or when listeners want comfort ... they seem to turn to the classics. Not to mention, Classic Rock is "new" to younger demos.
As for keeping it 'fresh and relevant,' Classic Rock programmers have inched the format over the last several years into the '90s - including the appropriate grunge and Pop/Alternative songs. WARO has expanded its musical appeal (and without air talents) has managed to stay topical with consistent writing and localization. James Justice is our voice guy and does an amazing job keeping 94~5 The Arrow sounding fresh and relevant!
9) How active are both stations with social media in interacting with your listeners?
93X is active daily, utilizing all the usual suspects - Facebook, Twitter. That said, we still need to get better with broadening our reach. We have not maximized our efforts on WARO -- so this is an area we need to improve upon.
10) Finally, congratulations for recently being inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame for your alma mater Slippery Rock University. You must be very proud. Tell us how this all came about.
I believe it was another former SRU grad, Jim Aronson, who pushed for a 'radio wing' in the SRU Hall Of Fame. He convinced the University of its importance, then I was fortunate enough to be nominated. The voting was open to all Slippery Rock University alumni and I am honored to have been selected! We had quite a few talented folks at the ol' WRCK/WSRU back in the day - several will be inducted in the inaugural class! Congratulations to Mark Razz, Christy Banks, Elliott Wood and all of the SRU Radio Hall Of Fame inductees!
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have five CDs with you. What are they?
- Led Zeppelin "Houses Of The Holy"
- Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon"
- Nirvana "Nevermind"
- Tool "Aenema"
- Lenny Kravitz "5" (for some great memories with my wife)