10 Questions with ... Mark Reid
June 23, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in college at Kearney State (KSC) in early 1980. Enrolled at the University of Adelaide in South Australia in 1981 and got involved with the Public Radio Station there 5UV 531AM and ran student programming for a year. Came back to Kearney in 1984 and re-enrolled at KSC. Applied at KGFW/KQKY in 1985 and was hired on as board op. I worked nights, mornings then middays in Feb 1988, a shift I still do today. I was Music Director for KQKY from 1990 to 2010 and then became OM for KQKY, KGFW and KRNY in 2010.
1) Congratulations on your 30th anniversary at KQKY. Did you ever think that this job would have that kind of longevity?
No, but when you look back on how it has played out it was meant to be. I have also worked for the local ABC/Fox affiliate NTV as a weather anchor for 25 years, so that has played a part in keeping me around. Central Nebraska is a good place to live, plus I still play music and get paid! After 30 years, I still like coming to work as the company is great to work for and the people here are a real pleasure to be around.
2) There have been many changes in the business during that time. Which have been the most significant?
Technology ... not just how we deliver over-the-air content, but how the Internet opened the world to us and we to the world. We are really content providers on different platforms, be it websites, smartphones, social media etc. Radio is not just an audio format anymore; it now has a visual presence that we didn't have before. I still remember the day in 1994 I think, when Joel Denver showed Mitch Cooley, former KQKY PD, and me a demo version for All Access at a convention. For me that was the day that technology began its shift into high gear. Game changer!
3) We met at a Conclave in the early 90s. I remember you as a tireless champion of small-market radio, lobbying the labels to show markets like yours more love. Have things improved in that respect?
No. For KQKY Hits 106 Top 40, we haven't talked to a label in years. Once Gavin closed, the secondary market mattered little. Our Country station KRNY Y102 talks to labels a little more with so many concerts that they help promote. Labels and Top 40 acts should take a lesson from Country and tour in "flyover country." Just because the region isn't highly urban doesn't mean there are no fans of Top 40. KQKY has been a dominant station for 25 years, and has helped to break many a hit. Nebraska doesn't end at the western edges of Omaha.
4) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Our market, Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island in Central Nebraska, has about 120,000 metro with the three mentioned cities and a TSA over 300,000. Grand Island is the largest at 42,000+. The market is saturated with Country radio, yet our station, Y102-KRNY, programmed by Brand Manager Scott O'Rourke, is the top dog. KQKY Hits 106, run by Brand Manager Jason Murphy, is the top cume station, competing head on with another Top 40. Our group has Adult Hits and Classic Rock stations: The Island 107.7 KSYZ and Classic Rock 101.5 in Grand Island, and both are ably led by Jim Cartwright. We also have the legendary KGFW 1340AM (Charlie Tuna's first gig) led by Brand Manager Andrew Mihm. It's a News, Talk and Sports station that holds its own in a sea of FMs. Our competition has all the same formats, so we go head-to-head daily. Ratings-wise, we have had an excellent run.
5) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Oh for sure, especially when it comes to digital platforms, be it websites, programming (NEXGEN) and everything digital that is involved in daily computer use. "IT" has been a huge learning curve. I am the go to "IT" guy in the building and for the most part I can solve issues, because I had to learn. I like to troubleshoot and IT is a great place to learn to do that. Everyone in the building has a computer to use and if the PC doesn't function efficiently, then productivity is affected. The good thing is we do have a Director of Digital Content in Tim Martin and an IT Director to solve issues we solve can't locally.
6) What are you doing social media-wise?
A lot! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, as examples. And we're now looking into uses for Periscope. These are great promotional and informational platforms that give radio a visual presence and more avenues to provide content to listeners and users than ever before. The visual aspect is photos, videos, news, sports stories with graphics, promotions etc. It provides us with a direct connection with our listeners and users of our content. It has been a game changer, especially when so many have access to our content on their smartphones. Even the older demos access a lot of content from our AM station KGFW on their phones. I am 54 and I'm connected as much as anybody out there with eight Facebook and eight Twitter accounts I can populate daily. Add Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram and Linkedin, then you get the picture of what my and our reality is today.
7) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
To carry on from the last question, for example, social media and websites have made being local more relevant than ever before. Recently our Country station Y102 and PD Scott O'Rourke teamed up with the Neb. Beef Board and a local grocery store and set a record, selling over 1,200 burgers in a two-hour lunch remote. Images of the event on Facebook, Twitter and our websites helped promote the remote. Instant local content is an example of what we can provide. We are out and about more so than the rest of the market. Another "huge" local event is our recent St. Jude Radiothon, which raised $247,071 in two days, and KRNY Y102 has one of the highest number of Partners in Hope Donations in the country. This event is special because a number of local kids have received treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the community really comes together for it. Our company, NRG Media, led by CEO Mary Quass, COO Chuck DuCoty and Director of Programming Jeff Winfield, has as its motto "Great Local Radio." And we are!
8) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
In the early days at 5UV in Adelaide, South Australia, the local legend Keith Conlon and John Pryzibilla were very instrumental. Stateside, Dirk Christensen, Mitch Cooley and John McDonald all had great influence and set the standard for KGFW, KRNY and KQKY that we still deliver. NRG Media Dir./Programming Jeff Winfield continues to provide that direction. Over the years I learned from the likes of Ken Benson, Dan Kieley, Wayne Coy, Cosmo Leone, Steve McKay and Alex Tear by talking to them over food and beers at the Conclave or Gavin conventions of the past. On top of that we are all constantly learning and I learn much from those around me.
9) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I am a 4th Degree Black Belt Instructor at Bennett's Taekwondo, working on my Master's 5th Degree Black Belt in December. I am also a longtime member of Dobytown Kiwanis and Club Secretary since 1999. I also build websites from home, too.
10) What is the current state of the radio 'talent pool'?
Talent is out there, and although the "pool" may be a little smaller, there are some excellent talents just waiting for a shot. Since I took over as OM, we are fortunate to have found great people like Jason Murphy, Melissa Freelend, Eugene Bichlmeier, Andrew Mihm and Lisa Williams. Add Scott O'Rourke (18 years), Steve Altmaier (41 year veteran) and Dave Jenner (23+ years). Our group of NRG Media stations, well led by Dallas Nau, Market Manager and Sharon White, Director of Sales, help give us the resources to hire the talent we need.
What ringtone do you have on your cell?
Nutbush City Limits - Tina Turner!!