10 Questions with ... Erik Bradley
June 18, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WBBM-FM (B96)/Chicago (October 1993-present); WCKZ (Kiss 102)/Charlotte (November 1988-September 1992); KBEQ /Kansas City, MO (September 1992-February 1993); WCKZ (Kiss 102) Charlotte (February 1993-October 1993).
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Incredible. WCKZ (Kiss 102)/ Charlotte, NC was my first station. I started there during my first semester while taking the broadcasting curriculum at our local community college. The job of research phone screener itself, in hindsight, wasn't exactly awesome but just being at a real radio station, getting my first taste of this business and having my foot in the door certainly was. Once I was in, I just knew I wouldn't give up until I was a more involved and integral part of the station.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Growing up I was always an avid radio listener and a huge fan of pop music as a whole, but just never knew that there were so many behind-the-scenes positions at radio stations. I always thought it was the DJs playing their favorite songs and I thought that would be fun. Once I learned about all the other people who help make everything happen, I knew this is what I wanted to do. All I had to do was hear the title "Music Director" and I knew that was going to be ME!
3) How would you describe the radio landscape in Chicago?
Super-competitive. There essentially are three Top 40 stations (B96, WTMX and WKSC) and three really strong Urban stations (WGCI, WVAZ, WPWX). Even the Adult/Classic Hits landscape in Chicago is crowded. It's a very, very strong radio market and one that I've been incredibly blessed to be able to work in for almost 20 years.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
Music! Getting to work in close proximity to the managers, artists, labels, agents -- I love the music and the business side of our industry. Helping to put on the Summer Bash and Jingle Bash every year is a humongous chore, but it's also incredibly satisfying when you sit back at the end of the show and know how much fun everyone had -- especially when you see all of the "this was the best concert of my entire life" tweets. As well, having my stamp on the sound of B96 is, at the end of the day, extremely rewarding. Finally, being able to work so closely with my best friend, Todd Cavanah -- we work very well off of one another ... he brings the science and I try to bring the art.
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Probably just keeping everything organized, staying in touch with the people you really want to stay in better touch with but can't because there just isn't enough time in the day, and choosing one new song to put in rotation when I'd really like to put in six! :)
6) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
It's got to be the B96 Summer Bash and B96 Jingle Bash. Even though they're not "standard radio 101 promotions;" far from it, they're massive undertakings that our staff locally handles and builds from the ground up all by ourselves, led by our Marketing Director Renee Thometz. We execute every single solitary detail with zero outside involvement from any of the big concert promotion companies, which actually is why we are so proud of our work. We know those lifelong memories for our audience all come from our extremely hard work, leading up to and on the day of the concerts.
7) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Oh wow... not sure it's too much of a surprise, but being such a huge fan of pop culture, my iPod is a virtual pop culture snapshot over the last decade or two. There's a TON of JT, *NSYNC, Usher, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Britney Spears, Bieber. Also, lots of Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari and Kathy Griffin. Oh, and there are a few Mariah Carey songs on there, too. But only a couple ... umm ... hundred! :-)
8) Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
The mid-'80s FOR SURE. Isn't the music you loved as a teenager the era that you always think is the best? My favorites from that time (do not laugh): Debbie Gibson, Whitney Houston, The Jets, New Edition, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, The Judds, and certain songs like "If You Leave," "Take On Me," "Don't You (Forget About Me)" etc. Good times!
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Everything from Contemporary Christian and EDM to R&B and Country. Diversity is a good thing!
10) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
It's really hard to explain but it's oftentimes been said that once you have it in your blood, it's extremely difficult to get it out of your system. And I believe that to be true!
What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The minute you think you're somebody is when you become a nobody. I learned this from the great Keith Naftaly, one of the most brilliant radio and music minds I've ever had the privilege of being around.