10 Questions with ... Gabe
June 10, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started part-time in the glorious overnights on 106.5 The Buzz (now Star 106.5) with Entercom/Sacramento in 2010. From there, I packed up and took my first full-time gig doing nights and MD at WGMT in Lyndonville, VT. After a short layover, was tapped to do nights at Z95.5 here in Ithaca in 2011 and was promoted to PD/mornings shortly after and have been here ever since.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
My first full time gig was ... interesting. Big-market kid in the small-market pond. Having worked with some of the best pros in Northern California, I was on an island in Lyndonville, VT. But it was a very valuable learning experience for the short time I was there. It was like a first girlfriend. Great at first, but it doesn't last long ... but most importantly, helps you figure out what you really want out of life.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Strangely enough, an e-mail club blast from my local station. I always had the desire to do something media-related, as any of my grade school teachers could tell you, and radio kind of presented itself. Also, when I initially looked to get an internship, I just thought it would impress the hell out of my friends.
3) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Ithaca is a very unique place. There are only two groups that really operate out of the market now and since we've now become the lone Top 40, it gives us a great opportunity to shine. One of the best things about this market though is how well the stations synergize with one another and promote the many great things we do within the community. We all live by 'live and local' and being in Ithaca gives us no shortage of opportunities to take action on that.
4) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
The most unique thing about Z has to be our presentation in relation to the stereotypical "small market" station. I feel we present our product as well as any large-market station for our listeners. For nine months every year, we have 10,000+ students 10 minutes from our studios who come from large markets such as NYC, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Philly, Long Island and more. They are used to a high level of quality from their home stations and our aim is to give them the same high quality accented by our ability to still stay local and true to our year-round population
5) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Yes and no. While I may not be directly tasked with something such as production or promotions, the whole scope still requires my attention. I'm okay with the hats, though. I believe that to really make an impact with your product, you have to know every nut and bolt. It does make for a long day but when I see the listeners excited, it's beyond worth it.
6) What are you doing social media-wise?
We're in the middle of an exciting time in terms of radio's brands. With all the change in metrics and reports, you can develop an argument for why this over that and vice versa and the next day, something will change that argument. It's important for us to be involved in all social media assets but for us, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are where we are finding our listeners are engaging with us the most.
7) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
Ithaca is a very local-first community. This presents both great challenge and great opportunity for us as a brand. We've worked with big organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the United Way and the MDA in the past as well as a plethora of local organizations. A big hit for us is our sponsorship of various charity 5k events that occur here in town. Our listeners love them and it's a great exposure opportunity to be out in front of thousands of people. Having a great live and local staff that is active in the community has been a fantastic plus, as well.
8) What is your favorite part of the job?
Listeners, hands down. Seeing them get excited at events or on the phones or online through social media makes my day. That and free food. Any radio person who says they don't like free food is lying.
9) What is the most challenging part of the job?
The balancing act. Sales versus programming. Life versus work. I love that radio is fluid and there is always something new to look at and tackle. I try not to look at the challenges as negatives. Challenges give us chances to improve and grow.
10) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
Every summer, we hold a 'Build Your Backpack' promotion in which we arrange for the children of the community to get backpacks filled with school supplies to start the year. I know it's not sending someone to the moon, per se, but I can't help but get excited when I see us helping a family who could use it.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a paleontologist because, like every other kid in America in 1993, I saw 'Jurassic Park.' Man, what was I thinking!?