10 Questions with ... Darren Downs
November 12, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Darren Downs (formerly Jay Styles)
- WPXY/Rochester, NY
- WBHV/State College, PA
- WAPE/Jacksonville, FL
- WHZT/Greenville, SC)
- WJJS/Roanoke, VA
- WABB/Mobile, AL
- WSJT/Tampa, FL
- WHFS/Tampa, FL
- ZFZZ/Grand Cayman
- ZFKY/Grand Cayman
1) What led you to a career in radio?
My mother read me a children's book when I was little: "Benny, Benny, Baseball Nut." It was about a boy who ran around the house announcing everything like it was a baseball game. I was hooked. By the time I was nine, muting Sports Channel and MSG and announcing Mets and Knicks games almost as good as Gary Throne and Marv Albert (or so I thought).
2) How would you describe your first radio gig?
I was 15 years old ... 104.7 WIRQ "Music For The Masses" in Irondequoit, NY ... I was Sports Director doing play-by-play for high school football and basketball games ... And on occasion talking up a Dinosaur Jr. track during the day.
3) What makes your station unique?
I am humbled and fortunate to be able to write down on my resume some truly legendary call letters (ie: WAPE, WABB). ZFZZ is no exception. Z99 was the FIRST commercial radio station in the country! The brand is massive on the Island ... taking up almost half of the advertising revenue on the Island.
I work in the Caribbean! The water at the beach looks like pool water. The sunsets are majestic. The tiki bars are exactly like they were portrayed in "Cocktail."
We have a great staff. Jason Howard (who hired me out of high school a thousand years ago in Rochester, NY and later brought me here) is our OM/AM-drive host with Katie Slagel. Jason, has been on the Island for seven years and is an institution here. Katie came from State College, PA, which is becoming a hotbed for great radio talent. She will be a star!
It's a small-market atmosphere with major-market goals and sound! Our owner and his family also own a supermarket, shipping company, cable company, and two radio stations.
4) Are you wearing more hats than you have in the past?
Outside of my programming duties for Z, I host a Sports Talk show every Saturday morning on our sister station Rooster 101. For me it's a hobby, not a job! I have some great friends in sports broadcasting and print in the States who have been very kind each week to join the show. I am very lucky to be able to do both with the amount of creative freedom I have.
5) Who is your favorite air personality who is not on your staff?
Miguel Fuller, morning host on Island 106/Panama City. His show with co-hosts Holly and Mandy is fantastic. Why are they still in market 3,009?!?!?!
6) What advice would you give to people new to the business?
Don't listen to anyone's demo. All you have is your personality. Be different. Be you. Don't be Scotty Davis ... he is where he is because he is "different." Be great at one or two things, be good at five other things, and be currently learning nine other things. LOVE to LISTEN and LEARN. Ask questions. Be HUNGRY and HUMBLE. Don't waste opportunities with PDs/VPs/veteran on-air staff members. They have all been through the circus and back. You WILL learn something from them. Say YES!
7) What TV character most reflects your personality?
Phil Dunphy ... almost to a T.
8) What is the current state of the radio talent pool?
Talent is everywhere ... but, the key is, where are you looking? The YouTube and Vine generation have made it easier. If we can teach them to run a board and the formatics, we're good.
9) What is your favorite part of the job?
I love scheduling music. Hands down. I love hearing the transitions in the car. To know you created the soundtrack to someone's day is powerful and stressful!
10) For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they "must see?"
It's literally paradise. Above everything the Cayman Islands offer, the "paradise" part should suffice.