10 Questions with ... Jim Fox
January 25, 2011
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
At 16 years old I applied at the powerhouse Top 40 in my hometown, KLUC. KLUC's PD at the time said, "I can't hire you; you've got no experience." So I got myself hired at the market's fledgling AM Top 40, KLAV. After eight weeks at KLAV, I reapplied at KLUC and they hired me. Hey! Experience is experience!
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Without hesitation. I love what I do.
3) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
4) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with satellite and Internet radio these days?
To the contrary, I think the question is, "How do satellite and Internet radio compete with terrestrial radio these days?" Terrestrial radio may not always reign supreme and it may not be the shiny new technology, but today it still delivers a vastly larger audience than other audio content sources. We introduce new music to more potential customers, we provide better non-musical content and we simply deliver more loyal, responsive consumers for our advertisers. Unfortunately, however, we suffer from a lack of self-respect and price our services below their value or even worse, give them away for free.
5) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
Strong brands will enjoy continued success through equal delivery via their terrestrial signals and their streams. As the percentage of revenue generated by our digital assets increases, stations will deliver more and more video and web content. Side channels will provide extended brands that feature musical variations of the primary brand and exclusive non-musical content from its personalities. Time-shifting-equipped receivers will allow listeners to choose on-demand programming that we provide.
6) Describe your weekly music meeting ... a) what is the process when you listen to new music? b) approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play and chart position when determining the status of a record?
By design, our music meetings are attended by a group with diverse musical tastes. Since mass-appealability is vital, we look for songs that receive a favorable response from the entire group. We ask, "Will this song attract listeners or repel them?" We tend to avoid songs that reinforce narrow formatic stereotypes of the past.
Since the chart doesn't necessarily represent stations like ours or stations in the same competitive environment, it bears minimal impact on our music choices. Since music sales don't consistently reflect the best songs for radio airplay, we rarely consider that data either. The "alphabet soup" of radio station call letters representing those who've added a song has zero impact on our music choices (in fact, often it hurts a song's chances of being added). In the absence of any conclusive data, 75% of our adds are based on gut. How much airplay they receive after the add is based upon about 70% research, 30% gut.
7) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
Since I've learned to be careful what you wish for, I'm going to evasively respond by asking you to repeat the question.
8) Tell us what music we would find on your car or home CD player (or turntable) right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
In my personal life, I seriously lack musical focus. My iPod's loaded with an eclectic mix of guilty pleasures and mega-hits, but if forced to list my top-five favorites of all time they'd probably be: Hendrix - "All Along the Watchtower," Tool - "The Pot," The Cure - "Just Like Heaven," Alice Cooper - "Elected," Harvey Danger - "Flagpole Sitta." Can anyone really say why it is that we like what we like?
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
We're public servants. If we serve the public, ratings will be good. If we serve ourselves, we'll probably blame Arbitron for bad ratings.
10) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Whatever you do, do it for YOU! Your standard will be higher and the quality of your work will be better than if you're doing it for your boss or the company.
Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
To use more of the vacation time I've accrued
What format does not exist that should? Would it work?
Songs written by Burt Bacharach, but sung by someone else. No, it would not work.
As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
None. My mistakes have had more impact on shaping who I am than my successes.