10 Questions with ... Brian Davis
July 9, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
In the business since 1996 in various Midwest markets, mostly in programming positions in Top 40, Hot AC, AC, Country and Adult Hits.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
My first radio gig was at KILR in Estherville, IA, where I did nights, wrote commercials, burned the trash nightly and filled the water softener with salt once a week. It was fun, but I bailed pretty quickly.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
"WKRP in Cincinnati" and the music of the '80s.
Also, bad grades.
3) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
WBNQ and our sister stations (Country WBWN and News/Talk WJBC) are the top-three stations in the market and always have been. We're also live and local in mornings, middays and afternoons on all three stations. I'm not sure that's a coincidence.
4) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
You can't compare 'BNQ to other stations ... it's a special animal. We're a few years off from celebrating our 40th anniversary in the format, and we've been a launching pad for more than a few major-market careers. In the past 10 years or so, we've sent at least eight people directly to top-40 markets. We have alumni in (to name a few) Detroit, Phoenix, San Antonio, Charlotte, St. Louis, Salt Lake, Milwaukee and running Hot AC promotion for Interscope.
Will I be making that jump? Bet yer ass. (Did that sound cocky? That sounded cocky. Sorry, Interwebz.)
We've also got one of those "gotta live here to get it" morning shows that's been here for a really long time and is ridiculously successful, and management, sales and support staff who have been here a long time and ... Just. Get. It.
5) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
I don't think there's a secret formula to it: We live here, we focus here, we do everything we can to be part of the community - and we follow through on our commitments.
Our AM has the biggest radio news department in Illinois (outside Chicago, of course) and just won the Murrow Award for Overall Excellence, and we tap into them as a resource. Much of the staff here has been around forever, so there's a great deal of institutional memory that helps guide us.
My direct format competitor has Elvis Duran in the morning. Obviously, Elvis is a radio legend and a hero of mine. But when there was a shooting incident at a local high school, Elvis didn't have a heroic kid from the school on, or have school officials and counselors on talking about school safety and what was next and how to help the kids move on. Our show did. Earlier this year, when some local kids won a school appearance from Justin Bieber by raising over $20k for schools in developing countries, Elvis' show mentioned briefly in their showbiz segment that "a school outside of Chicago" won a contest. We had the kids in studio. Syndicated shows can't do those things, and that's why we'll continue to win.
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
We moved around a lot when I was young, so I have to split the answer:
- Sweet 98 in Omaha (Jay Taylor, who went on to program Live 105 in SF, was the night jock and blew my grade school mind)
- KIIK 104 in the Quad Cities (everybody in that lineup went on to huge markets and killed)
- WLOL in Minneapolis (Almost Perfect Radio!)
- KOKZ in Waterloo (Brian Wright of Audience Development Group was the PD and did mornings, and that station smoked).
7) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I'm a big ol' computer geek and I like to golf, but lately I've rediscovered the joy of model car building. It's so nerdy, but it's fun.
8) What is the current state of the radio "talent pool?"
It's harder to find experienced talent, but I've never had better luck finding new blood who really wants to do radio than I have lately. I just hired a new part-timer who is also a cheerleader for the local arena league football team. Her dad was in the business, she's super-fun and she really wants to learn how to be great on the radio. How awesome is that?
9) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
Kick all the people who say we're a dying industry the hell out. I don't have my head in the sand -- we have to make changes -- but there's still plenty of life left in the old girl, and anyone who doesn't believe it should get off the train.
To quote from the book of Don (Draper): "If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation." Let's stop focusing on our flaws and start showing off what we do right while we fix the issues.
10) Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
Sterling Archer is my spirit animal.