10 Questions with ... Kwame Dankwa
July 22, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started my career at 500-watt daytimer 1480 WKND in Hartford, CT. It was in a cluster with two Tropical format stations and I slowly worked my way up to APD. From there I worked at WDRC-A/F as a producer/ promotions person host of a community affairs program. I first cracked the mic in Top 40 at WILI/Willimantic and fell in love with the format very quickly. From there I also part-timed at WRCH and WTIC and moved on to program WZRT in Rutland, VT. In the Fall of 2012, I became the APD and night host at KWNW in Memphis. I cut my stay in Memphis short due to family things going on back up north, and was requested to return to Pamal Broadcasting in VT. While in Vermont I regularly make the trip to Boston for part-time work at WODS. (So much for brief!)
1) What led you to a career in radio?
Believe it or not, when I was younger I was grounded for an extended amount of time (three years) ... no TV, no phone, no video games. All I had was my radio. I would listen to Michael Maze on WKSS in Hartford every night. I would also use my karaoke machine to tape mock radio shows and play them back for myself. At that time I had no idea I actually wanted a career in this business. I just wanted to be like Maze.
2) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
In the literal sense, the landscape is the actual divide in the market, as mountains carve up signals throughout the survey area. Because of this, half of the stations cannot be heard depending on which mountain is in the way. Another issue we face that may or may not be unique to our area is statistically the upper end of the 25-54 demo makes up the majority of the residents. The younger population is not as thriving as it once was, so adjustments have to be made in programming to balance it out.
3) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
We have a 50kw signal that covers an area where the population is very sparse. Therefore we have to plan to be more regional than local. Community events such as The Relay for Life, Strides against Breast Cancer, 5Ks, sporting events, etc. are all very important for our station's brand exposure. The statistic that states only 1% of listeners will come to an event does not apply here. If you build it, they will come. It is also very important to build your profile with other media outlets. For example, WZRT APD Amber Stone has been helping host a popular television show in the region. This not only adds to her profile but also enhances the station brand.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
Knowing that my station is actually speaking the language of our listeners and making them happy.
5) What is the most challenging part of the job?
There are two types of people in every business: 1) the people who are looking to work their way up and benefit the team. 2) the people who just "show up" for whatever reason to collect a paycheck. Life is very difficult for those in category #1 when they have to delegate or depend on those in #2. The challenge is trying to get everyone to bring their level of engagement to an equal playing field. Whether there is competition in a market or not, if your team is not on the same page, your chances of success are slim. "When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."
6) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
Z97.1's Prom Queen. We gave away a prom dress, flowers, and photos to a young woman who was nominated by her friends and family. The girl we chose had been through so much, we knew she deserved to have the best prom ever! The promotion received a great deal of hits via social media and local television coverage. Promotions such as this one stick with our listeners longer than any giveaway, simply because we are giving back.
7) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
Michael Buble and Glen Campbell.
8) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
JJ Kincaid from WHTZ/N.Y. This guy could walk into the studio with no prep at all, and see a speck of dust on his board. He would then do a 10-second phoner with a listener talking about dust and it would still be relevant, witty and entertaining. Just when you think he might run out of material he comes up with even more!
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I started in the Urban AC format so I love all things R&B. When I was in Memphis, I always listened to our sister station KJMS V 101! I also love House music and British Dance music!
10) What is the current state of the radio "talent pool"?
The talent pool is looking pretty bleak right now. That is because the industry has purged itself of great potential mentors. Young talent in any profession needs guidance. Why should radio be any different? I hear top market programmers talk about the lack of up-and-coming talent in articles on most radio news outlets and how frustrating it is that you have to take the time to train and be a coach and mentor.
What's the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
When I was on WRCH in November of 2011, we had just gone all-Christmas. During a back sell, I accidentally referred to Johnny Mathis as "Late" instead of "Great." Phone lines blew up! I had every woman over the age of 50 crying on the phone ... major oops, right?