10 Questions with ... Andrew Sykora "Syke"
September 17, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I knew in high school I wanted to be a radio guy, but was focused solely on sports talk/broadcast. When I arrived at Hofstra University, I joined WRHU, Radio Hofstra University, where I learned I was more intrigued by the music side of radio than by the sports side. I worked on the morning show there, jocked/produced the Top 40 program, and also worked extensively in the production/news departments.
Just as I graduated, I got offered a part-time position on-air at Party 105, a Dance station on the far Eastern part of Long Island. After three years of working at Party, I sent out a demo on a whim to Jeremy Rice (PD) of WBLI and was offered part-time weekends/overnights/fill-in. After a year of that, I was offered the position of night show host and after a year of that, added the title of MD.
WBLI is where I've grown the most in my career thus far and I LOVE working with all of the fantastic people within Cox Media Group. Now not only on the on-air track, I've developed a passion for programming and am constantly growing/learning from the best in the business within CMG (Jeremy Rice, Steve Smith, John Shea, Al Levine, Nancy Cambino). I love every minute of my job and continue to push forward in the hopes of eventually taking on the task of a PD position. My motto has always been to continue climbing the ladder and Cox Media Group has never stopped encouraging me to do so. For that, I am grateful!
1) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Long Island is definitely a special place. People are so proud and passionate of their towns. One of my favorite things about radio is the personal connection you can make to the people who live in the surrounding areas and on Long Island. There is such a strong personal connection to our BLI listeners that some would compare to a very close-knit family. As far as musical tastes, we have everything from Top 40 to Oldies to Classic Rock to Hip-Hop to Hot AC to Dance, etc. ... the list goes on! It's such a diverse community and yet we all seem to be close and similar.
2) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
I find that if I wear hats as I grow older, my hair seems to thin. As far as "employment" hats, yes, I do think I'm wearing more than I have in the past but I love it! I'm a big believer if you're not continuing to learn new traits, then you're hurting yourself and your career. It's just like an athlete. If you're not out there developing and honing your skills, somebody else is. I say bring on more responsibility!!
3) What are you doing social media-wise?
We are a very heavy social media communicative radio station. Our listeners NEED and WANT to know what is going on within our station and in their community. We find that social media is the way to give them that at every minute of the day should they ask. We are never "tracked" when it comes to social media. We are ALWAYS posting live and keeping content fresh. We have also developed our digital video team in terms of parodies, celebrity interviews & skits, and station events. Listeners don't just want to listen, they want to see too so we try to give them as much visual as we do audio.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
I love that I am always able to ask for more responsibilities and be given them! I love learning new things and am always willing to look for the more difficult tasks in an effort to better myself not just as a "radio guy," but as a person. I also love the people I work with. I visited a station in the West and it was so stale. 12 noon on a Friday and not one sales person in the office. They weren't out selling; they were already gone for the weekend. Our building has so much personality/warmth and that is so difficult to find nowadays in ANY job!
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
The daily struggle to stay fresh and be innovative! It's a competitive business and you always have to strive to be better than your competition, but what's more than that is the ability to stay one step ahead of them! It is extremely challenging, but in a positive way. I love our weekly creative meetings where we sit down and try to think of something that we can do to make people take notice. I never want to duplicate or recreate. I want to be the station that others try to duplicate or recreate. It shows you've made a mark. I'm a big believer in taking a leap on something nobody has ever taken a chance on.
6) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Wow, I am all over the place. I have everything! Jay Z, The Beatles, Oasis, Eminem, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding, Armin Van Buuren, Zedd, Grouplove, Passenger, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, and even System of a Down. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
7) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
Despite the stunning resemblance, I've never entered a Neil Patrick Harris look-alike contest. (I'm sure they exist)
8) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
Chunky and Buster from Wired 96.5 in Philly. They were in NYC for awhile and they brought this attitude and flavor that I'd never heard before. They know how to keep your attention and that can be so hard nowadays. It's almost as if they've invented their own new style of radio, it's crazy.
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I'm in the station between 8-12 hours a day and I love the Top 40 format, but when I'm not around it (which is usually early AM/late-night drive home), I'm listening to Sports Talk radio. WFAN in NYC is my guilty pleasure. I'm a sports addict. It clears my head and lets me recharge. It's a release I guess you could say.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Hard work pays off. It may not always seem it, but people are always watching and listening. At some point, somebody takes notice. It could take years, but if you have the right attitude and you're willing to work hard and not complain, it will pay off.
What's the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
College radio. Homecoming game broadcast, morning show edition. We were discussing the "thunder sticks" being given out at the game and I accidentally called them "thunder sh*ts" about seven times. I could not stop. It was awful and yet at the same time hysterical.