10 Questions with ... Sludge
February 22, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WFAL/WBGU/Bowling Green State University -- 1987-1990, On-air and Production
- WIOT/Toledo -- 1988-1990, On-air and Production
- WZRZ/Cincinnati -- 1990-1992, Operations Manager
- WBZX/Columbus --1992-1994, Production Director/on-air host
- WLLZ/ Detroit -- 1994-1996, Evening/morning host and Creative Director
- WRCX/Chicago --1996-1998, Evening host and Co-Creative Director
- WKQX/Chicago -- 1999-2005, Afternoon host and Co-Creative Director
- WZZN/Chicago --March 2005-October 2005, Morning host
- WCKG/Chicago -- 2005-2007, Talk show host
- WDYL/Richmond -- 2006-2010, Morning/afternoon host
- KDKB/Phoenix -- 2010-Present, Morning host
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
I stumbled onto the airwaves of WBGU when I was in college. All I really wanted to do was play Van Halen, but I probably had to play Chris De Burgh, which wasn't a tragedy because I still got to ball-bust and mock ... my ultimate goal. While at BGSU, I started interning at WIOT/Toledo, a path many people took at that time. I grew up listening to WIOT, so it was very surreal. It was the best place anyone could start in the business. We thought we were in New York City. No one could tell us different. I was Keith Hastings' intern. Ah, the education I received taking a razor blade and cutting the artwork off long CD boxes for him (sorry Keith! Had to tell the story ... again). Another story Keith may not remember, and a lesson for you kids out there: I showed up for the interview at WIOT in my dad's suit. There were four other dudes interviewing as well, all with long hair and wearing jeans and T-shirts. I thought, "Crap, I look like a dork." Keith walks out wearing jeans and a T-shirt. I thought "f**k". Next day, Keith calls me and asks me if I want the internship. I was surprised and said, "Really?" He said, "Hey, you wore the suit." Boom.
2) Early influences?
All of my influences were not direct, because I really hadn't planned on getting into radio, but as I look back, they were a huge influence. Besides WIOT, it was Detroit radio, which you could pick up in the Toledo area. I worked at a golf course in high school, and you had to be up at 5a (great training for now, right?). I would listen to JJ and The Morning Crew, among others. Also listened to Bob and Brian on WIOT. It would get me through a morning of cleaning golf clubs and fixing golf carts. I always remember that while on the air today. If people actually listen to you in the morning, you better work for them. Give them compelling content and make them laugh, because they are just trying to get through their day.
My biggest influence from Detroit was probably Arthur P ... BABY! Shame he's not on the air today...
Howard Stern showed me you can really bring your life to the radio, and that's how you win...
Later in my career, Mancow became an influence, while working at the same stations with him. Taught me that at all costs, you have to demand attention from people....
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now,what you didn't then, would you still do it?
No question. The experiences I've had are impossible to replace with any other profession. People always say I look young, and I think it's because I laugh a lot ... every day. Sure, there have been some setbacks, but who doesn't have those? The four-and-a-half hours a day on the air make me feel like I just won the Super Bowl every day ... or "Most Improved Player" at Sylvania Northview basketball.
I'm also proud that I've helped people, through radio, with charities I've partnered with.
4) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
Law school, astronaut, UFC fighter, ferret breeder? I was highly recruited.....
5) What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
Sludge's Build-A=Band! I built a band through a competition with listeners, and I play guitar in the band. Truly amazing performers who will go on to do great things after they get rid of me. Budweiser jumped on as a sponsor, and one of our upcoming shows has us opening for Bret Michaels here in his hometown! You can see the band's videos at: http://kdkb.com/Article.asp?id=2096611&spid=33030
6) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd like to see radio get its balls back! Get proud ... we have the goods! We deliver compelling content and provide complete and instant interaction better than any other medium, yet many in the industry act like we're inferior to some guy with a hard disk recorder and a podcast. Technology will always advance -- and we need to be the "tip of the sword," embracing it. But we have many talents working their ass off to deliver hours of daily content. Let's brag about it and stop laying down!
7) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
There's a line that Mel Gibson says in "We Were Soldiers:" "There is always one more thing you can do!" Today, this is true more than ever. Whenever I actually do "catch up" with everything I want to do on the show and on the streets, that's the statement that runs through my head. It's not always healthy, because you can forget that sometimes, you just need to chill and CTRL/ALT/DEL your brain, but as long as you can work in a breather, you can ALWAYS do one more thing!
8) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
I can't go to my left, gotta work on that. BUT, my turnaround J from the foul line is soooooo puh-REH-Tayyy! Actually, I want to make much better videos. This is truly important to the show, and I've always excelled at audio editing for my show ... never needed a "production guy." BUT, currently I rely on our web guys when making vids for the show. I have the software and I have the ideas; I just really need to find the time to work on video editing. And I'm not talking about just making videos. I can't stand when personalities put up videos, and they have no purpose or point ... just 10 minutes of YAWN. I don't want to do that....I want to be David Fincher, or George Lucas, or Tommy Lee! Goal for 2011....
9) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
Ya know? A paper shredder is competition to terrestrial radio today. Soon, we are ALL going to be delivered to the same awesome device, so all you can do is all you can do ... to win!
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets. Some people ask me if I regret crossing the street from a stable Q101 in Chicago to do mornings on an unstable WZZN. Only months after I took the job, they dumped the format to go Oldies because the Oldies station went JACK. Sucked huge? YEAH! Regret? No. No risk, no reward. No guts, no glory. Defense wins championships. No one comes into OUR house and ... whoa, got carried away.
As far as missed opportunities, I remember years ago, an unknown Maroon 5 came into our radio station to perform for us to promote their debut record. I thought they were great, and Adam Levine asked me to come party with the band that night. He gave me his cell, but later in the day, I was tired and blew them off. Six months later, I was watching MTV, some award show, and they were performing. I said, "These guys are awesome, who are they?" My friend said, "That's Maroon 5, you know, the guys you blew off, and Adam wanted to be your boy? But you were tired? Now he's dating hot models, are you could have been dating the hot model's friends ... remember?" The lesson is ... don't blow off anybody!