10 Questions with ... John Stewart
March 27, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
A majority of my radio career was spent in Tampa Bay. I started right out of college doing overnights at 102.5 The Wave, then on to 95YNF, WARM, WSUN and COAST, and a couple of stints working with Mason Dixon in the Morning. In 1996, I was hired to launch KBKS/Seattle, then I headed back to Tampa Bay for five years as the MD/midday jock for STAR 95.7. Now I'm eight years deep into Q92 in Canton.
1) What led you to a career in radio?
I idolized George Kell, Ernie Harwell and Harry Caray, so I wanted to be a play-by-play announcer. I found out early in my college days that play-by-play was harder than it looked and unless you were an ex-pro athlete, you stood virtually no chance of scoring a job in the industry.
2) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
Being in the Rust Belt, we tend to lean into the Rock library early and often, which is highly unusual for a Top 40 these days, but it works for us. We've used Rock artists such as Seether, Nickelback, Three Days Grace, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters and My Darkest Days as "secret weapons," so to speak. The songs test ... and nobody else within earshot will play them.
Q92 is unlike any other station I've worked at. This is one of the last locally owned stations where the owner/GM is in the next office. It's the opposite of corporate radio.
3) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Many hats are the prerequisite in today's radio world. As a PD, you've gotta know the inner workings of every department you're responsible for, in order to make sure they're all working in tandem to present the intended product. I find myself being a manager/coach from 9-10a with the morning show, a jock and music director from 10a-3p, an imaging director and marketing manager from 3-5p and a social director 24/7.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
I'm completely passionate about the music. I listen to everything that comes across my desk from The Neon Trees to Grouplove and Five Finger Death Punch. If it's good and fills a need on the station, we'll give it a shot.
5) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
Probably that my wife and I adopted a child from Russia, and that her 90-year-old grandmother has lived with us the past eight years.
6) If you could add one full-time position to your budget right now, what would it be?
If you would've asked me that three years ago, it would've been a production/imaging person, but these days with the social media driving so much traffic, I'd have to say a social media/web designer.
7) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
It may reek of cheese, but the '80s were very influential in developing my diverse musical tastes. We had the latter part of the disco era on one end of the '80s and Guns and Roses on the other with Madonna, Michael Jackson, Def Leppard, U2, The Cure, Duran Duran, Journey and Prince ... a huge variety of feel good music baby.
8) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
Golf. I'm trying to find a ball that will go straight, though. 300+ yards is a good thing --if it stays in the right fairway. That's my goal this summer.
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Kid Rock, Dave Matthews, Nickelback, Journey and AC/DC are some of my favorites, but I've recently gotten into local faves The Black Keys.
10) What is the current state of the radio talent pool?
Sad. As an industry, we've not done a very good job of cultivating the next crop of on-air talent. I've just spent the better part of two months looking for a new morning show and was thoroughly disappointed in the 250 applicants that sent in packages. Ultimately, we've decided that the best talent in the pool, was already in-house.
What ringtone do you have on your cell?
Neon Trees, "Everybody Talks." The hook is massive ... It Started With A Whisper!