10 Questions with ... Jay Sparxx
February 11, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started as an unpaid intern at WRCL Club 93-7 in Flint, MI at 15 years old, and hung around until '09 when I started co-hosting "Nightclub 93-7 w/ Ian" (now Slacker at WDZH/Detroit). I landed my first full-time gig doing nights at WXYK 107.1 The Monkey in Biloxi, MS in 2010. I ended up as nights/AMD before moving to Memphis, TN after a year to do nights and Promotions Director at WHBQ (Q107.5). After a year-and-a-half, I made the move to Charlotte to host nights at WNKS (Kiss 95.1).
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Looking back ... perfect! I had a PD (Nathan Reed briefly, then Clay Church) who gave me enough slack to make an idiot of myself ... which I still do ... and the right critiques to fix the problems. It didn't hurt that some of the people I started with (Chris Cruise, Buster, Slacker, Kdubb) all wanted the same thing: To do kick-ass radio. I got to watch them get their new gigs and adjust and make a name for themselves while I sat back and took notes.
2) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Fast-paced. Our listeners have options. Regardless of format, they can find a station to fit their needs in Charlotte. We have to be engaging and current 110% of the time. But that's what makes you the best at what you do right? Competition. It keeps you on your toes!
3) What is the most challenging part of the job?
Being different. Not so much "shock jock" different, but unique in the sense that our "prep" is available to ANYONE at ANYTIME. Our listeners can get on their phone and see the same gossip about Justin Bieber as we can. Our job ... make it relate. Make it funny. Make it matter!
And for the record, that is one of the most exciting parts of the job. The challenge to be unique. Using that "pressure" or that "demand" to make it relevant is half the fun.
4) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
"The Secret Contest" - We're actually in the latter stages of this now on Kiss.
Obviously, I can't disclose toooo much info ... it's a secret! But the premise is to drive listeners to figure out our "secret" by listening, or finding our morning show at specified client locations, and then keeping it quiet. They can THEN win cash, up to three separate occasions at specified times for knowing said secret, and each time they qualify for a HUGE cash prize. The contest was done overseas before with HUGE feedback. It's a sort of twist on the $10K fugitive/phrase that pays-esk promotion.
5) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
Ha! Where do I start? The one thing that I notice raising a lot of eyebrows is that before I went ALL IN with radio I was a Certified Chrysler Mechanic. I grew up in the shop with my dad, who eventually opened a custom shop when I was young, and I always thought I had my career path figured out. I thought I was meant to be a "Grease Monkey." Turns out, I just endorse dealerships and shops now!
6) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
This is tough. I respect a lot of people in this industry ... a lot of people who I turn to for advice and ideas. I have to say Slacker at WDZH/Detroit. He not only hand-fed me the things I needed to know to get my start; he has never broken his style of radio or come back on advice he's given me. He has always been true to what he does and has always done it well.
7) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Club 93-7. WRCL in Flint, MI. I was the definition of a P1 listener, and that annoying 14-year-old who called EVERY DAY. Karma is a B***H.
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
The connection we make with listeners and people of different cities across the U.S.
It's always amazed me when changing markets, how people will take you in. You have to pay your dues obviously to become "part of a city," but you truly do become a part of history there. Sure you may not get a stretch of road named after you, but if I do my job right, someone in that city will say "remember when we first met 10 years ago and we were listening to the Jay Sparxx Show," or "maaaan, I couldn't WAIT to get out of work to listen."
We have the power to make people late for work while sitting in the parking lot JUST to hear what we have to say. When the truth is ... most of these people have NEVER met us! Yet we play a role in their day-to-day life.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Always, always, always! Anyone can go online, read the TMZ headlines, scroll through Buzzfeed, and READ things into a mic. But connecting with your audience and making the news, the gossip, the studies RELATE to your audience and feel like you are talking directly to them ... that's the key! Content is king for that reason! It has to work for your audience! That's one of the most truthful things Slacker told me when I was a baby intern.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Do it all! And by that, I don't mean overwhelm yourself ... I mean take all opportunities presented to you, to gain as many experiences as possible. Just because your GOAL is to do afternoons and MD, don't limit yourself by turning down a chance at promotions. Or vice versa. Knowing how the PD and MD schedule music to make your station sound may help craft the way you conduct your show to better fit the audience. Knowing how promotions directors and staff communicate with sales and clients, will help you as a jock to better serve a client for a potential endorsement or appearance in the future.
And it doesn't hurt to meet the people involved in all aspects ... networking is HUGE in this industry.
What was your last non-industry job?
Valet parking cars at the airport ... may or may not do that occasionally when the wallet is thin. DON'T JUDGE! Cash tips!