10 Questions with ... "Neander" Paul Marshall
February 8, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WZLX/Boston; WHDH/Boston; WHEB/Portsmouth, NH; WAAF/Boston; WMFS/Memphis; WKCW/New Orleans; WEGE/Columbus, OH; KRXQ/Sacramento; WAAF/Boston (round II) ; WBCN/Boston; KQRC/Kansas City; and now ... I endure the harsh winters of Phoenix
1) What was your first job in radio?
I set up the morning show for Annalisa at WZLX/Boston.
Charles Laquidara & the Big Mattress, and Mark Parenteau on WBCN, Bob & Zip on WAAF, Dale Dorman on WRKO, and Boston's own V-66, which was a broadcast TV, local version of MTV.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
I have often cited a Walk-A-Thon I took part in that was sponsored by WCOZ/Boston. However, just recently, I was telling one of our weekenders the story of my interview with Motorhead in 1986. That few minutes was the true tipping point for my foolish career choice!
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Yup. However, I would certainly have a backup plan.
4) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
At one time, I thought I could play in the USFL. I'm also a proficient boxer. But, this is what I am meant to do. Every time I think otherwise, I am reminded of a conversation I had with my wife after being fired. I said to her, "We have a nice house here. You love the city. I can find something else to do if you want to stay here." She said, "What are yo,u an asshole? You're miserable if you're not happy. This is who you are. This is what you do!" It's good to have a support system. I think the fact that I don't have any interest in doing anything else, truly contributes to my "success." So ... I guess I'd be a bigger blight on society than I am currently. If that's possible.
5) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
I don't even think about them anymore. I am singularly focused on making KDKB the best radio station it can be. With the new absurdity of the PPM environment, I have to prioritize. We're acutely cognizant of making our Internet presence as strong a supporting facet of the KDKB brand as possible. Unfortunately, monetization continues to be so big a challenge, I have to focus on the elements of programming that we can monetize now, and work in conjunction with those better informed in new media techniques to build toward the future. I hate to be that guy, but we're still the best at what we do. Neither satellite, nor Internet stations can do what we do ... yet. When they can, we'll be ready.
6) Describe your weekly music meeting:
It's good to be the king. For how long have I been talking smack about which song deserves airplay ... and which one is crap? I have the power to destroy careers! BWA HA HA! Of course, now that I sit in this chair, the game has changed. I owe EVERY Program Director I've ever worked for a huge apology. Except one...
a) What is the process when you listen to new music?
Truth be told, I don't get a whole lot of new music sent my way. Even though we play current music in a city of over three million, and cume the population of entire markets, apparently because we have yet to be officially added to "the panel," our station is not deemed worthy of the effort. Pardon my bitterness. But, this is simply asinine on the part of the record industry. I will try to maintain my composure for once. Those who get it, "Thank you!"
b) Approximately how important by percentage is gut, research, sales, video play, and chart position when determining the status of a record?
Well, with KDKB's position in the marketplace, we have to avoid polarizing records. With our target, we cannot run the risk of scaring off listeners with Aggro textures. So, that sort of restricts which songs I can consider by gut right out of the box. I'm rarely first on a record like that. It has to be on a case-by-case basis. However, there are some songs (the new Aaron Lewis, for example) that just make sense immediately. We also rolled the Slash/Fergie track based completely on gut, and couldn't care less what it does on the charts. It makes sense for us.
New artists have a tougher road, simply due to the fact that I cannot take the risks we took in the past. There are other stations that can do that. We cannot. I can achieve the same objective by other means. It's not about who rocks hardest. Or, who rocks first. It's who rocks best. The charts don't indicate the quality of a song. All they show is how many times it's spun. However, knowing which stations are playing certain titles ... especially those that are successful in similar competitive situations ... is an invaluable tool. Each tool has to be utilized carefully. Ultimately, it comes down to what makes sense for KDKB.
7) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd love to see our industry demand a truly accurate measure of ratings. I don't care if you're winning with a 20-share right now. One-third of 1% of a market does not reflect reality. In no other business would we accept that small a statistical sample. And yet a multi-billion dollar industry bases our entire economy around it. Getting a bigger sample? That costs. How much is accuracy really worth? I try not to come off as bitter when discussing this. I just know it frustrates all of us, and I'm too stupid not to verbalize it.
8) What format does not exist that should?
Ready? I don't think "Classic Alternative" has been done quite right yet. The format is deep, mass-appeal and 25-54 friendly. The diversity in that old "skinny tie rock" is phenomenal! Everything from Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, The Smiths and Big Country to Thomas Dolby, Psych Furs and The Cult.
Would it work?
Sure it would. It's the same concept as Classic Rock. There are enough core artists such as U2, The Cure and REM. Plus, the pool of one-hit pop/alt songs combined with punk/new wave is stupid-deep. I'd like to think it would. But if it did, wouldn't someone have done it already? Maybe they are and I just don't hear it. I'd roll every song from every John Hughes movie. (Not that they resonated with anyone.) I am actually shocked it isn't really being done. Too many stations think Stone Temple Pilots is Alternative.
9) Tell us what music we would find on your mp3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
Perhaps this influenced my previous rant. But, today I've enjoyed The English Beat and P.I.L. I like how that old Alternative music was definitively unique. There's a big difference between U2 and REM. I use them as examples because they're so ubiquitous. As a music fan, I find a lot of the current music to be so similar, that it lacks character. I'm not sure when cloning whatever flavor-of-the-month sound became a good idea again. But, if you look at how musically diverse we were 25 years ago, I think you'll see what I mean. I am so passionate about great music, that I have rediscovered bands I hated from back then, and now appreciate what they did. Drop the Feelies "The Good Earth," or The Pretenders' first record on and then tell me how good that sounds.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets?
Every time I see this question, I think, "My career must be over."
Probably. But, things usually work out the way they're supposed to. I hope.
What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Sometimes, I am best served by keeping my mouth shut.
Who would be your dream guest on the show?
Lynda Carter. Hey! She's a Phoenix girl. It could happen!
What is your favorite TV show?
Of all time? "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Indisputably the greatest comedy force in the universe. Nobody even comes close. However, "30 Rock" is the new "Soap" ... and "Soap" was the greatest American TV show ever! Go back and watch it, and ask yourself if we could make that show today.
In your opinion, what is the greatest song ever that never made it as a hit?
This changes so often. I always come back to a handful -- "Say Ahh" by Merchant of Venus and "Shine" by Sevendust are up there. But ... there was a band from England called Moke that, to me, is the greatest band that never made it, of all time. The CDs came out on Ultimatum and the debut is criminally overlooked. Somebody please re-release this stuff! It deserves to be heard.
What will convince you to add a song that you feel isn't right for the station?
Audience demand. They are always right.
You just won the lotto and you have your boss on the line. What's the first thing that you would say?
Hello. But, all kidding aside ... "Thank you for believing in me." Although I may not express it enough, I am indebted to everyone who's ever given me a shot to play radio on their stations. Some situations ended less than enjoyable, but every one of them was a blast. And I hope my current boss understands how fortunate I feel for this opportunity.