10 Questions with ... Ryan Patrick & Andy Hall
August 16, 2016
1) What was your first job in radio?
Ryan: It was a promotion job for Heidi Kramer at WGRF/Buffalo. I was the guy in the mascot costume once the original guy in the mascot costume got tired of it. I eventually begged enough and got to do overnight weekends.
Andy: While I was doing college radio, I was allowed the opportunity to sit in on, and answer phones for the great Remy Maxwell, who at the time was rockin' afternoons at KXXR (93X)/Minneapolis. Rough gig, I know ... getting to watch the "long-haired, tattooed, biker freak" work on a daily basis and learn from one of the absolute best. To this day, I give Remy a lot of credit for taking a chance on me.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Ryan: I didn't want to be locked into cubical hell. I wanted something creative. I initially wanted to be a writer/journalist. A friend of mine did an internship in radio and loved it. That's where it started, and after a bunch of twists and turns here I am, almost 23 years later
Andy: Growing up, I had an uncle that worked for a couple of radio stations in Minneapolis - KQRS (KQ92) and KTCZ (Cities' 97). When I was about eight years old, he invited me to hang out and watch him work on a weeknight. I knew immediately that I wanted to be on the radio after that experience -- I even used to stack records in the order I wanted to play them at home, and crafted a makeshift microphone out of my mom's old mixing spoon and some tinfoil.
3) How long have you been at KAZR (Lazer 103.3) and what makes this station so unique?
Ryan: It'll be 13 years in December. In terms of uniqueness, I lean towards the promotions and marketing that we do. We like to do big benchmark events. In the beginning that was Lazerfest, but over the past 20 years we worked to be more than just that station who does that concert every summer. We made the conscious decision to move away from that and do more lifestyle events. The Underwear Run, Walking Fed Food Drive, Pinecar Derby and this year the 10th Anniversary of the $40,000 Rock Girl Search.
Andy: I was originally hired in July of 2000. Took a PD gig in Fargo in September of 2003. Returned "home" to Lazer in May of 2004, this time as MD in place of Jo Michaels, who had just left Des Moines for her hometown of Seattle. All told, I've been part of this family for over 15 years. It's difficult to pinpoint just one thing that makes our brand so unique - perhaps that's a good thing - it's the music, the promotions, the events ... but most importantly, it's the people! From management to the air staff to our incredible support team, and of course the listeners - we are who we are because we're all invested and want nothing but the best for Lazer.
4) This month KAZR is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Give us a little history on how the station started rocking back in 1996?
Andy: I've only heard stories, but the launch itself happened on the overnight of Thursday, August 1st of 1996. Troy Hanson was the original PD, and Keith Hastings, who was PD of the original "Lazer" in Milwaukee at the time, was also on hand as a consultant of sorts. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" hit the airwaves at around three in the morning, and we were off and running. Apparently, for as much excitement as Lazer brought to Des Moines for rock music fans, it created a decent amount of animosity as well -- from listeners of the previous station, who I've heard showed up at the studios to try and block access when the "new kids" showed up with their box of CDs.
5) I'm sure with 20 years of Rock history, there are a few choice stories to report. Any great "Rock Star" stories you care to share?
Andy: Corey Taylor mooned my mom. This was more than 10 years ago now, but all the parties involved remember the incident like it was yesterday. Mom and my youngest brother Nick were in town visiting - they didn't know it at the time, but Corey and I had become really good friends. So I decided to swing by his house. I got within a couple blocks, and called Corey to let him know I was in the neighborhood. "Let me know when you're out front," he said. "Okay, I'm driving up now," I replied. Just as we caught sight of the front door of Casa de Taylor, a bright white figure appeared in the doorway. It was Corey, sans pants. Mom screamed "Oh my GOD!" Corey heard the commotion and yelled into the phone "WHO IS THAT??" "That's my mom, Corey." I should write a book.
6) Beyond the rock stars, what are some of the best Lazer 103.3 on-air personality stories you can share, including your own?
Ryan: The great thing about the personalities here are the longevity. The majority of the staff, both full and part-time, have been on their air for over 13 years, and some more in the market. Listeners have grown up with the staff, watched and listened to them get married have kids ... and see them in town at events. That sadly, isn't something that can't be said for most stations, both in town and across the country.
7) Now let's talk about the music. What special music features is KAZR doing on the air this month to celebrate 20 years of Rock?
Ryan: Nothing overly special in terms of music features. With the station as broad as it is, we looked at a couple of different things to do, but didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves. The station has evolved so much over the course of the past 20 years, there didn't seem like a special feature to do it with. If anything we have decided to highlight it with the live shows this month.
8) Are there any special 20th Anniversary concerts in the mix as well? What Rock bands are helping you celebrate?
Ryan: On the 5th we did the official Anniversary show with Slipknot, Manson and Of Mice and Men. It was Slipknot's first hometown show in almost eight years, so that alone was a big deal. We've promoted the entire month as a celebration with shows from Deftones and Volbeat as well as Kiss and Steven Tyler at the Iowa State Fair. The lineup this month really help re-enforce the "Everything the Rocks" mentality of Lazer.
9) How is KAZR using social media this month to let listeners in on your 20th anniversary celebration?
Andy: We've always been active on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but in recent years have also integrated Instagram, Snapchat and others as our audience continues to change the way they prefer to communicate. The secret to success is allowing that communication to be a two-way street, and we've achieved that by making sure we acknowledge them in one way or another. Regarding #Lazer20, we've had and we have no shortage of concerts and events our listeners are excited about, and that enthusiasm is all over social media.
10) Finally, surviving and even thriving over a 20-year period is quite an accomplishment. What would you ultimately attribute KAZR's successful 20-year run to?
Ryan: I think it goes back to the marketing and promotions. We've evolved our music policy over the course of the past 20 years, but it has been the promotions, events and creativity which in my opinion is the straw that stirs the drink.
Andy: I agree with Ryan, but will add that our willingness to evolve the station musically has contributed greatly to the longevity we've enjoyed. It's really easy to become pigeonholed in Rock formats, and the tendency is to super-serve those P1s by hanging your hat on "harder" and "faster," when in reality, all you've done is further polarize your potential audience and drive P2s and P3s away. I approach our playlist like individual plots of real estate ... because everyone has a different taste, not every house will be similar. Luckily, the neighbors never bitch about the volume - we're still rock fans, after all.