10 Questions with ... Sean Stewart
June 16, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
When you talk with Sean Stewart you can sense his passion for radio. You can also tell how much he loves music. His career kicked off in May 2000 in his home state of New York, starting as MD/nights at WFPK/WPKF in Poughkeepsie. He would exit in November of 2007 to join Hudson Valley station WSPK/Poughkeepsie and WAJZ/Albany. A year later it was off to Chattanooga for a brief stay as MD/night host at WKXJ. That gig would eventually lead him to his current post as MD/night host at WDOD. Stewart has called the station home since August of 2008.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Charlie Work! Faxing, cleaning, washing, board opping, panhandling ... Did a little bit of everything while waiting for my opportunity.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
My unhealthy obsession with it. Radio fascinated me on so many levels and I wanted to be a part of it. I just had to figure out how. I started to show up at random radio station events, talking with the talent; trying to figure out what I needed to do get my foot in the door. Two community college semesters later, I landed my first internship at WPKF / WFKP Clear Channel Poughkeepsie, NY. Never looked back. 15 years later I'm still having just as much fun as I did as a scrappy intern named "Shrek." Love this business.
3) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
Having the freedom to make decisions in house. We do not need to call six other people in four different states to get approval to play a song, create a promotion or execute a contest. We hire good talent and corporate gives us the tools necessary to succeed. Being able to do our jobs without corporate interference is as unique as its gets. For that I thank them.
4) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
We are lucky to have a full-time local air-staff. Our talent lives, works and plays in Chattanooga. The local aspect of our station is one of the strongest parts of our brand. Our listeners know we are here to super-serve them, we are one of the few stations in the market you can actually call 24/7 and somebody will answer. It's a small piece, I'm aware, but little things like someone "actually" answering the phone goes a long way. Chattanooga is an amazing city that I'm proud to call home.
5) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
No artist should surprise you, if you see it on my iPod ... it's awesome, and you should immediately download it.
6) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I worked at TGI Friday's in Albany, NY for a summer. I was the worst bus boy ever. My nickname was speedy. I was so bad they only scheduled me to work Wednesday lunches. I was fired for putting bread sticks into my pocket.
7) Who would be a "dream guest" to have on your show?
Howard Stern or Jimmy Kimmel. A couple of radio guys that I would kill to talk shop with.
8) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I grew up listening K104 (WSPK) in the Hudson Valley. Listened constantly; called even more. I was the annoying kid on the phone. After winning the top 9 at 9 prize for the third night in a row, I was told I could NOT win again for 30 days. I won again the next night! Me being persistent, I begged the jock for a prize. He finally caved and said he would send me the worst prize he could find. He did. A week later I received Jeff Buckley's "Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired." As a 13-year-old obsessed with Pop music this was a huge letdown. I had no idea who Jeff Buckley was and I was even more crushed because I thought it was a CD for deaf people ... Well played.
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Nineties Hip-Hop holds a special place in my heart. Some of the most iconic Hip-Hop albums came out during that period. My iPod is full of classic Hip-Hop.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Stay focused on your goal of being a full-time radio personality; realize it does not happen overnight. You have to put in the work. Just because your mom thinks you have a radio voice and your friends think you're funny, doesn't mean you are. Listen to major-market jocks so you can understand the mechanics. Never copy what you hear, but notice how a good jock gets in and out of breaks. A-B-C's are huge.
For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they "must see"?
Rock City ... See Rock City.