10 Questions with ... Damian Rhodes
July 17, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I got my start doing road crew stuff, locally producing Open House Party, and helping out the production department at WLAN, as well as board-oping talk shows and local sports on sister station AM1390 WLAN while I was in college. From there I bugged the hell out of PD Jordan Walsh to give me a shot on the air. I got weekend overnights and fill-in/swing shifts. Did a quick stint in radio sales after graduation before heading to State College, PA where I landed my first full-time gig at Forever Broadcasting's WBHV (Beaver 103), doing middays and Assistant Production Director. I was later handed the station's Imaging Director position, and also learned a few APD duties. Then I rejoined Clear Channel in 2002, returning to FM97 as Production Director/Imaging Director and middays. Grabbed some out-of-market voicetracking, where I did nights at WHCY/Sussex, NJ (Max 106.3), afternoons at WDFM/Defiance, OH (Mix 98.1), afternoons at WMRV/Binghamton, NY (Star 105.7) and some out-of-market imaging for 103.7 WCKY/Pemberville, OH and WHKF/Harrisburg, PA (99.3 KISS-FM). In 2008, I took over image voiceover duties for WRFY/Reading, PA (Y102). Spring of 2011, I moved to afternoons at WLAN. Now I'm working closely with our current PD, Derrick Cole, learning everything I can about becoming a programmer.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
That old building high atop the liquor store on Queen Street in downtown Lancaster, which is now vacant. A ton of memories, though. Cadillac Jack, Pat Kain, Toby Knapp ... I did weekend overnights and was a stunt boy. I can still remember manually pushing all the buttons on the board. Yup, CDs in those old Denon decks and Wave Cart played the commercials and imaging. First song I played on my first shift was 'Uninvited' from Alanis Morissette.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
I grew up listening to the radio, and my parents will tell you I always wanted to be the center of attention. I would tune in every night to hear the local shock jock night-time personality and even call into his show to try to get myself on the air. One time, I called and ended up getting a station tour out of the deal. I sat in to shadow an air shift, and started networking with a few people in the building.
3) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
That's an understatement. I went from simply doing an air shift and some production to creating all of the station's imaging, doing an afternoon show where I try to spend some time in the actual air studio to grab phoners to air, taking care of all the local production for Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, and at least for a month while we were in transition of finding a new PD, I was the only staff member for the station, so I handled programming needs, promotions, and production.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
Every day is different. Whether I'm producing a pile of imaging, voicing spots both in and out of market or sitting in on music add decision meetings with DC, every day brings something different to the plate. I also love getting out of the building and meeting our listeners, whether it's at a remote or a concert we've put on.
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Time management. Looking at the list of things I need to accomplish in a day and getting all of them done. Mornings I typically set aside imaging sessions, music/promotional meetings with our PD, then the afternoon is all web, commercial production, show prep, and voicetracking.
6) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
Day of a Thousand Prizes! In the Michael McCoy days at 'LAN. One day ... around four locations at different times of the day ... personalities at each location and prizes galore! Anything from movie and concert tickets, to CDs to TVs and other big prizes. The most winners I've ever seen in a 12-hour span.
7) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I starred in a local production of Grease ... still have no idea how I memorized all my lines.
8) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
DJing weddings. Never thought I'd actually get into this, but it's so much fun. It's literally like going to a different party every weekend and getting paid for it. I get to meet a lot of people, and it's always fun working with the brides to help them plan their dream reception. And nothing beats mixing music and watching a packed dance floor of guests. Plus, I've seen it all. Once even witnessed a crazy uncle crash the dance floor in a Spiderman costume!
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I'm pretty much all over the map. Nickelback, Pitbull, Maroon 5, Phil Collins, Hall & Oates, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Usher, and I'm a huge 80's junkie.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Learn as much as you can in every area of the business. Network like crazy and find someone you respect in the industry, look up to, and ask them everything you can think of. I learned so much from so many great production peeps and programmers.
What was your last non-industry job?
I sold athletic apparel and shoes at Footlocker.