10 Questions with ... James Kurdziel
April 12, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I interned at The Edge in Buffalo, did all the things people do in between, and now I program the station and do middays as well. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm lucky to have only worked for only one station in my hometown, or if I'm really stupid for having worked for only one station in my hometown. I'll let you know.
1) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
I don't know. I mean, Internet radio is a part of terrestrial radio now. We just have to market that fact better. As far as satellite, it could be really cool. It's just not right now. They do great PR, but that's about all they do well. If they got to a point where they offered subscription packages in which people could select stations they want and include terrestrial stations in those packages, then you're on to something. I guess I'm suggesting more of a partnership between free radio and satellite. If you're from Buffalo, but live in Phoenix, how cool would it be if you were able to pay 12 bucks a month to get all your hometown stations, a bunch of satellite channels and your current local stations? I think people would be all over that. Am I saying too much?
2) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
If you asked me that question five years ago, I promise I would've said that we'd all be in a better place; that we would have figured it all out and successfully navigated our challenges to a bright future. Then you would have read that answer five years later and called me a moron. So now I'm wise enough to say I have no idea, but I'm still hopeful. It's all still there for us. We can integrate technology, we can recruit creative youth, we can make our product the focus again (what made radio bankable in the first place). We just have to do it. Granted, I don't know if we will, but I'm hopeful.
3) What can we be doing with our station websites to better our stations as a whole?
Our websites need to reflect what we do on the air and vice versa. The vice versa has become pivotal though. Your station is your brand and you have tools to expose that brand to the marketplace. It used to be good enough to have a sign-up sheet for contest x and tell people to check out the site. Now you have to create original content for your site, and use the air to push people toward the content. Additionally, we need to constantly update that content. Remember, we're not competing with other stations' websites. We compete with EVERY website. We're all starting to figure that out and you're seeing companies invest more and more in their websites.
4) How is the relationship between programmer and record label changing? For better or worse?
There really isn't a relationship anymore. Certainly not in mid-size markets. Probably not in majors, either. There are a couple of reasons for that. PDs aren't just PDs anymore. They're MDs, morning show producers, talent, production, web designers and promotion people. Not much time for music calls and CERTAINLY no one wants to "get worked" on a record anymore. It's brutal.
Also, label folks are more telemarketers these days than anything else. They sit in their offices and call week after week and that's it. In a market like mine, they're not covering shows anymore, so we deal with tour managers, which for me isn't a lot of fun, to put it lightly. It's not like they hit the road anymore and sit in your office, think of cool ideas, and build a relationship. We should all value the relationships that are already in place, because I imagine not many new ones will be cultivated.
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
There's a kind of sensory overload now. There's a lot of new information and everyone is trying to make sense of it all as it pertains to their market. People meters, Mscores, text platforms, quantifying databases and a million other "new millennium" advancements have arrived, but they need time to fully integrate. So I'd say the biggest issue is radio integrating and utilizing all of these things without crumbling underneath them. Let's face it; anytime something new arrives, it can be daunting. You have a decent amount of stations that can't physically handle a new workload, so you end up doing things on a national level. We have to fight through that and keep ourselves as local as realistically possible.
6) What is your favorite radio station outside of the market and why?
WJJO in Madison. They're killing it. They're the most local radio station that I'm aware of. They spend the time getting to know their listeners and delivering what the market demands. To look at them, it looks like they're having a blast and that their listeners respond to it. They'll take chances musically and promotionally that most of us won't anymore. I really admire it.
7) If you could add any one full-time position to your budget with no questions asked, what would it be?
A full-time videographer ... someone who's sole job would be to create, edit and publish video content for my website. Someone who doesn't have three other jobs, who could constantly make funny or interesting videos. Look at how often new videos are made for FunnyOrDie. I want a local version of that.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
It can always be worse. Even when you think things are really bad, they actually aren't. As long as you're here, you have opportunity.
9) How often do you do remotes and which work best for the station?
Remotes are the worst thing a station can do these days. You just can't win. In the last five-plus years, I haven't seen a station that doesn't look horrible at a remote regardless of market. It's some part-timer standing at a table full of lame prizes that no one wants. You're set up far away from the actual people. The jocks are embarrassed to be there so they get shy. They're just the worst. I don't know why they still happen. We have cut ours by 90% over the past two years. We'll only do them if it's the make-or-break for a client. Otherwise, no way. I'd rather be out at events that make sense for us and strategically position ourselves to look good. But for that to happen, we have to control the venue.
10) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Have fun. Make it your priority to have a good time at work. I don't care if it actually sucks. Make it better. Everyone with a job in radio has the ability to improve the situation for themselves and their peers. So shut up and do it.
What is your favorite TV show?
Not Glee. Glee sucks.
How did you get your present job?
What do you do with a song you don't like?
Play it a lot.
How much interaction do you have with record labels?
A lot with some. None with others. Not much in between.