10 Questions with ... Enda Caldwell
April 23, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
From the age of 5 I have always loved the thrill of performing to a captive audience and I started by winning the local talent competition here in my native Ireland for my poetry and acting performances as a boy. My media career actually started at our local TV station, Province 5, doing a course in all aspects of television -- including camera man! At 14, I started helping out at nearby International long wave Flamethrower Atlantic 252 with Tony West.
Since then my radio career has taken me all over the world from Garden Shed Pirate Radio to Tipperary (it's a long way to Tipperary is how the song goes) to the Principality of Monaco and many other great locations like Australia and the USA. Highlights for me, so far, have been working on The Long Wave Giant Atlantic 252, Radio Luxembourg testing Digital Radio Mondiale, 106.5 Riviera Radio, 100-102 Today FM, Ireland's Biggest Commercial Radio Station and even some fun air shifts at The World Famous Kiss 100 London, 104.9 Xfm London and many, many more! In December 2012 Spyder Harrison recommended my skills as a presenter to Pat DeLuca President of Double D Media and after a brief chat he appointed me right away on air on the mighty DSN Hits! I love it!
1) What makes your station unique?
DSN Hits is an app-based music service that operates the same as a regular terrestrial "station," but we are hugely aware that our website and social media are the new "transmitters" so to speak. Whilst DSN Hits is every bit the honest-to-goodness U.S. Top 40 service in every sense of the word, keeping in line with the U.S. Top 40 leaders of right now musically, we also manage to include hits from all over the world, and are very aware at all times of what types of music are trending with our global demographic and wider audience outside the local market of Canton, Ohio.
2) How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
It's as much fun as some of the best places I've worked at over the years. On the air, it's less restrictive than anything I've ever been involved with before in terms of what I can say on air and what kind of music I am allowed to play due to its innovative nature and how the station has evolved into what it is today.
3) What are you doing social media-wise?
I'm all over social media all the time! My friends outside the station who are connected to my Facebook have commented how I'm never off the thing and how I'm always promoting our listen live link for DSN Hits via the tunein.com app each time. It may drive some people crazy, but I was told some years ago by a very wise man at RTL Group in Radio Luxembourg that Viral Marketing is the way forward. With Twitter, I've made the point of tweeting as many of the artists I'm playing as possible from my own twitter @radioenda and the DSN Hits twitter @dsnhits, always letting them know when we are playing their new tunes - this has a dual effect with their managers and fans getting us new followers like you wouldn't believe as a result of this process.
With the DSN Hits Facebook page I post new and unique content, always ensuring without fail in every single post that I make includes our listen "live" link at tunein.com/radio/DSN-Hits-s157201/ plus doing things like short "to camera" vlog's live from Ireland a few hours before the show begins to get people tuning in well ahead of time .. driving it forward as interviews with the stars come up and happen or any on-location special broadcasts. Video is now fixed as an integral, important and unique part of the entire package of what I do. Listening habits are changing and how audiences relate to us as broadcasters is changing and becoming ever more interactive in every way.
4) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
I presented some programmes over St. Patrick's Weekend Live from Guinness Storehouse @homeofguinness on DSN Hits. It was a resounding success for both Guinness and DSN Hits and on the 16th of March alone, the eve of Paddy's Day, as we broadcast to the world we interacted on air with as many as possible of the record 9,500 tourists from every corner of the world who passed right by our stand in the very centre of the historic home of the "Blackstuff," on the best weekend to be Irish and be in Dublin (and on air to the world!). So good was it that we have been asked back to do some more shows soon from there, which will be great fun.
5) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
106.5 Riviera Radio's 21st Birthday Celebration night in 2008 was the most awesome thing ever! Station Managing Dir. Paul Kavanagh held a party for all the station's loyal advertisers and listeners who won tickets to the exclusive event, held at the world-famous Jimmyz Nightclub in Monaco. It was as glamorous and star-studded as any event you have ever seen. To put it into perspective, I met Prince Albert of Monaco that evening, who was guest of honour. It was a resounding success for the station and one of the most memorable "radio nights" I've ever been involved with.
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I listened to Radio Nova and in 1986 it became Energy Power 103 from Dublin. That was my favourite radio station to listen to when I was a kid, with the likes of The Legendary Bob Gallico, Pat Courtenay and Lisa Moore (a.k.a. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney nonetheless!) at breakfast doing some really funny "theatre of the mind" type stuff like "Star Sick" which was a fun series that poked fun at Star Trek. They also had some great presenters throughout the day too, like Tony McKenzie and in the evenings John O'Hara with "School's Out." When I was meant to be doing my homework, there I was leaning back on a chair paying more attention to the radio than to my homework!
The Irish Super Pirate era was from about 1981 to 1988. That was when Nova and Energy, together with the Admiral Robbie Dale's Sunshine 101 were the hottest things on the dial in Ireland. The Government cruelly closed them down in favour of "legal" radio in December 1988. The golden age that my generation experienced in the 80's with Ireland's super pirates may never be seen on the Emerald Isle again. You have to realise that before the super-pirates arrived, Ireland lacked proper commercial format radio and these few amazing stations changed the face of Irish broadcasting forever.
Nova brought us proper professional U.S. Top 40 radio with Orban Optimods, Jam Jingle Packages, RCS Selector Playlists, Casey Casem countin' em' down, the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 -- one man who influenced my career choice. Nova was based directly on great stations like The Mighty 890 and 102.7 KIIS-FM in Los Angeles. Sunshine 101 adopted a Z100 Hot Hits Format in it's peak period. It was nice to feel like you were a part of a radio listening revolution happening from the ages of 6 to 13. After the Super pirates were told to get off the air, I switched over to Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio One, which were audible on AM in Ireland at the time. Pretty shortly afterwards the Long Wave Giant from County Meath, Atlantic 252 launched from about 12 miles down the road from me ... like a giant spaceship landing in your back garden.
7) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
Ask anyone in the business they will tell you how radio has a tendency to consume your life if you let it! So I must admit I have neglected my "life outside radio" and have often been labeled "The World's Biggest Anorak." I would say to that claim that in my defence I know a guy with the biggest tape collection of airchecks on planet earth and his website can be found at www.aircheckdownloads.com. My own most recent favourite hobby has been jamming with friends singing on some tracks and learning to play the guitar. I'm hoping to be the guy at the party at the end of the night who can keep the party going just that little bit longer with a song or two. Watch this space!
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
As Chris Cary once famously said in his Nova closedown speech: "No, I didn't make a lot of money, but I've had a LOT of fun" -- so far I would say that statement holds true for me. I do radio because I love it. This business keeps sucking me right back in every time I say "Right! That's it! I'm changing my identity and moving to Timbuktu to get away from radio and all to do with it..." That's the moment a great new gig comes right up - that's exactly how it happened for me with some of the best gigs I have ever been offered, like Atlantic 252 and Radio Luxembourg. So I would say to others, when you have reached rock-bottom, "the only way is up."
9) What is the current state of the radio "talent pool?"
There are more people than ever before wanting to get a start in the business, get back into it, or get to the next level. Where are the new stars? I see and hear many demos, but as one PD told me, "Out there, you will find the talent base is pretty low." How is it that 25 years ago people were prepared to watch, listen, learn, rehearse, make demo after painstaking demo tape, go through all that rejection and yet they never gave up? I think it still happens, but it's rarer now to see that happening. Because something might look easy, that does not mean it necessarily is easy. I'd like to hear more people showing that they can display the basics of standard presentation and then building upon that approach rather than going in and trying to rock the earth with little or no real broadcasting experience.
Years ago you were picked for having a great voice, delivery or some other actual radio skill. Nowadays, it's all too common for someone to walk into a top gig because they were on TV, are a social media animal or are "more down with the kids" -- regardless of what their voice is like or whether they can actually perform a basic live break. I hope we soon are to see a renaissance in actual real radio jobs for real radio people from the real talent pool out there who are probably reading this now and nodding.
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
Radio needs to take the strengths of everything it is best known for in its instantaneousness as a medium and now upgrade itself as a platform above social media rather than being subservient to it. Do exactly what DSN Hits and thousands of other small to medium sized app-only based services are proving daily with huge audiences using just the website as it's transmission method. If someone cuts the power to your big mast right there on the top of that mountain, what have you got left? Ask yourself that question if you are in terrestrial AM or FM radio right now. How unique or compelling is your online stream quality, content, podcasts, audience interaction and other features about your station that make it stand out against the competition?
The killing-off needs to stop now. No more "networking," please. It's currently ruining great radio stations on not one but several continents. Go back to the local guy who wants to do the best radio station that he can for his market. Simple.
What was your last non-industry job?
Growing up, I learned the great art of panel beating and spray painting from my Dad, so occasionally I still do some projects when I have the spare time. Just ask Spyder Harrison. I even repaired one of his automobiles last time I was visiting him in Miami, which was fun! The one last non industry job I think many people reading this in the USA will want to hear about was my time as a mystery shopper for Guinness. I had the "job" of being given about 600 bucks together with a list of over 60 pubs in my native Co. Meath here in Ireland, visiting each pub one by one and buying just one pint of the Blackstuff only to measure if each individual pint's head-height was 18 millimetres, check if it was served in the correctly branded and clean "Guinness" glass, ensuring too that it was poured correctly with no overspill whatsoever on the glass. Only the pubs passing my secret test would be awarded with a few free kegs of Guinness from Diageo!
That wasn't like work at all! You didn't have to drink every one ... but, well, seeing as we were in Ireland ... sure, it would have been a shame not to taste at least one or two of them.