10 Questions with ... Nick Russo
June 11, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in Corpus Christi with KKPN as an intern for the afternoon/night show until they flipped formats. Then, I began working promotions and weekends for KOUL and eventually landed in the middays. After KOUL, I began producing the morning show and handling scheduling and imaging for KEYS-A before eventually moving to nights and webmaster of KZFM. After my tenure with KZFM, I began doing nights at KTFM. Over the course of two-and-a-half years with KTFM, I moved to APD/MD and now host the afternoon and night show.
1. How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Competitive. It's a David vs. Goliath situation because we are a very small media company and we're challenging Clear Channel and Univision, two of the biggest media companies in the world. While it seems daunting at times, the listeners' enthusiasm for our station and our extremely local presence are prevailing. Those media giants can't ignore us anymore; we're here.
2. What are you doing social media-wise?
Social media is a huge outlet for us. It gives us an opportunity to recognize music and news that otherwise would fall between the cracks on-air. We use our social media platforms to promote new music and fuel giveaways. Interacting with all of the listeners that engage us via social media is key. We should all make sure they know we see their comments by replying to them all, tagging their names in status updates or tweets, writing back to them when they send a message, etc. Engage, engage, engage. Every person on your FB page is a FAN. Treat them like a best friend. They want to say the radio station is their friend.
3. "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
We have taken serious strides to have our name and image pop up in as many places as possible throughout the city. We have our promos running in local movie theaters. We go to several high schools throughout the city and host their pep rallies. As a "new" radio station it's important for us to find the people who otherwise might not even know we exist.
4. What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Probably Phil Collins. I have nearly every song he and Genesis ever did. My mom is a HUGE fan and I would listen to his "No Jackets Required" album cover to cover all the time.
5. Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
I can't pick just one. Jojo Wright of KIIS in Los Angeles was one of my first inspirations, Billy The Kid in Dallas was my second and now Ryan Seacrest and JJ from Z100 are who I look up to. Jojo and Billy because they were doing nights in major markets and I always wanted to do that. Now Ryan because of the integrity he's garnered and JJ because he has a special way of talking to the listener that mimics what I hope to achieve.
6. What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Ironically or universally, not sure which fits better ... it was KZFM and KOUL. I worked for both of them so if you have kids, make sure you tell them that DREAMS DO COME TRUE!
7. What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I like that people think it's dying. I like that people count it out and think the major companies are the only ones who are winning. We're winning on the sales side and we are on the verge of winning in the ratings. I've always been the kind of person who doesn't stop until I conquer something and I don't think radio can be conquered and that's what I live for ... the fight that won't stop.
8. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The listeners are listening for music, not the radio personality. Although the radio personality helps, the perfect on-air personality is an additive to the great selection of music, not a distraction.
9. What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I am very much a homebody. While I can drink and party with the best of them, nothing makes me happier than sitting at home, relaxing with a good flick or a sporting event to watch. I really like privacy.
10. What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
Embrace Generation Z. Don't throw in the towel because it's more difficult, evolve and embrace the change. Generation Z is coming in a very large force. I see radio stations becoming their own "Pandora" but a local customized version. Lastly, with the economy the way it is and the stress being put on local businesses, radio should reach out and negotiate deals with the local businesses. Make lasting business partnerships that help both of you make money while not sacrificing the quality of your product.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be on the radio. Or the President. Clearly, radio is way more fun.