10 Questions with ... Mark Adams
June 26, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KJBR/Jonesboro, AR. Nights
- Y-95/Phoenix, AZ. Nights
- KKXX/Bakersfield, CA. APD/MD/Nights
- XHTZ/San Diego, CA. APD/MD/Nights
- KBOS-F & KCBL-A/Fresno, CA. Program Director
- WPNT/Milwaukee, WI. Program Director
- KZQZ San Francisco, CA. Program Director
- KJXM & KXL-A Portland, OR. VP Programming
- KKHH, KILT, KHMX, KLOL, Houston, TX. VP Music Programming
1) What led to you to a career in radio?
In a word, accidental. I literally bumped into and almost knocked over a gentlemen who turned out to be the program director of a radio station. While apologizing, he complimented me on my voice and invited me to audition for a part time DJ position. I'd hoped to become an English Literature or History teacher, but that part time radio job turned into a full time career.
2) How would you describe your first radio gig?
That job was a little bit of everything. I had a chance to work both part time and eventually full time on-air. I board op'd St. Louis Cardinal's baseball for our AM station and The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 for the FM. I worked in promotions; which included loading the van and the MARTI equipment, as well as setting up and breaking down for a remote broadcast. I learned some rudimentary production skills and could put together a basic commercial or promo spot. As everything was analog I became a pretty good editor with a grease pencil and a razor blade. I began toting around my own carts with all of my night jock music beds, movie drops, and sound effects. I suppose it was that classic first radio job where you do a little bit of everything and go where you're needed. And the experience proved valuable.
3) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
It's a crowded marketplace. HOT has two main competitors in KRBE and KBXX (The Box) and several other stations that we share tertiary listenership with. KILT has two direct competitors; 93Q and Legends. Mix 96-5 (KHMX) shares appreciable listening with KRBE, KODA (Sunny 99.1) as well as The Buzz (KTBZ). And as you'd guess, the Spanish language market here is very competitive. Mega (KLOL) has direct competitors including the Univision properities that also come paired with television. There are some very good radio stations here and a number of great morning shows. I'm happy to say several of those stations and morning shows are part of our cluster.
4) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
I'm proud of the work we've done on KILT over the past eighteen months and love the station. But as I was originally hired in 2008 to program HOT, that's probably the station I'm the most emotionally attached to. HOT is a Top 40 station for Houston. We lean a little Rhythmic to take better advantage of the market's demography and our competitive circumstances. We've attempted to create a vibrant, dynamic, promotionally active radio station that always has something going on. We have a great local morning show and strong personalities. I love imaging and am always updating our sound and attempting to tap into whatever's happening right now. We're musically aggressive. As many of my friends in records can attest, we don't add everything and I run a tight station, but when we jump out on something we play it hard and I'm not concerned in the least about leading the way if we're passionate about it. We also look for and spin "weapon" records on HOT that are exclusive to our station, as well as musically in line with the market's music heritage and our listeners expectations. I hope that when people listen, they know and feel this is a Houston station and that we are HOT. I feel we've created a station with a great vibe you can pick up on through the speakers. You always attempt to create that wherever you are and whatever the station. I've been fortunate to work for some great stations in the past and I'd rank HOT near the top. We have a great team on that station.
5) Are you wearing more hats than you have in the past?
Yes, and then some. While my positions have become more complex and demanding over time, I also know I wouldn't be happy doing anything else. I value the opportunity to be involved in multiple formats and multiple stations and enjoy the additional challenges. I'm always happy to take on a new project or help out someone else and I enjoy taking a leadership and mentoring role.
6) "Local, local, local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
For me, a lot of that is just in the planning. That is making certain that locality, street visibility, and community involvement are a part of our programming and promotion planning for the year. It starts with the on-air staff making a conscious effort to incorporate locality into their show prep and execution every day. And that can be as simple as commenting on the sun shining out the window, noticing how backed up the traffic looks, or tying a pop cultural reference back to something local and personal that Houston listeners can relate to. It continues with having our promo teams out on the streets and engaging with the listeners, whether it's a sales remote or a concert ticket hit. It's also about finding ways for each station's brand to get out in front of as many people as possible and be creative in utilizing activation to encourage listeners to come back to the station again and drive occasions. We also attempt to be as proactive as we can in finding cause-related marketing and public service campaigns that are meaningful to one of our personalities, and that will make an impact for our listening audience.
7) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved in recently?
Sarah Pepper from our morning show on HOT 95-7 was nominated for Woman of the Uear by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and has been working on fund raising and community awareness promotions for the last ten weeks. She ended up raising over $50,000 and was honored by the Society with the awareness and the citizenship awards. The entire HOT 95-7 and CBS Radio Houston team were behind these efforts and we helped make a difference for our community. Pepper did an amazing job and she and our promo team had the chance to interact with thousands of listeners all over Houston during the course of the campaign. I'm very proud of the job she and the whole team did. That's the kind of thing I place more and more importance on the longer I've been in radio. Making a difference can be hard, but it's also the most gratifying.
8) What's the coolest promotion you've ever been involved with?
I thought I'd become inured through sheer repetition from getting too excited or overwhelmed by a concert event, but The Ten Man Jam for KILT is amazing. Every December we have ten artists on one stage for an acoustic concert performance featuring the biggest names in Nashville, as well as popular Texas country artists. The 2011 Ten Man Jam was the 12th annual show but my first Ten Man as the PD for the station. Our show included Alan Jackson, Sara Evans Gary Allen, Eric Church, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, Eli Young Band, Clay Walker, Josh Abbot Band, and Thompson Square. We do not sell tickets to that event; you can only win them from the station. So you can imagine how in-demand those tickets are. The listeners who attend end up having an incredible, unique, concert experience that money cannot buy. And I have to add that the country artist community is just the best. They're easy to work with and open to working with stations to truly engage their fans on a personal level.
9) What artist would be surprised to find on your iPod?
It's pretty random. Here's the last five played from my phone: The Cult "She Sells Sanctuary," Beethoven "Symphony number seven," Coldplay "The Scientist," The Dixie Chicks "Not Ready To Play Nice," and Nine Inch Nails "Every Day Is Exactly The Same". I have a lot of 80's and 90's Pop and Rock, and quite a bit of Contemporary Country on there, too. I like Miranda Lambert, Eli Young Band, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and many others, too. Who knew I'd turn into a Country fan?
10) What's the one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
It's kind of an open secret I'm a comic book dork and science fiction geek, so I'm not sure if this qualifies as a surprise, but my cat is named after Captain Kirk. Tiberius the cat spends his days listening to CBS Radio Houston, too.