10 Questions with ... Holly O'Connor
July 21, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started fresh out of college doing middays at WCKY in Findlay, OH. I didn't know anything about Country music, or even how do a show, so it was a complete learning experience from scratch. I was also the Promotions Director for the cluster. My goal was to become part of a morning show on a Top 40 eventually, and a few years later I was able to make that happen in Panama City Beach with Steve Kramer and Miguel Fuller on Island 106. The three of us got a shot in the big leagues on Play 98.7 in Tampa Bay a few years later, but that station flipped and left us jobless. Miguel and I ended up back at Island 106 with Mandy Williamson in 2013, with an awesome opportunity to grow The Miguel Show. Just a few months ago Miguel and I were given the chance to step into the Tampa game again, and here we are at Hot 101.5! (The station that we very jealously watched launch from across the street, wishing we could be part of it. Life has a funny way of working out!)
1) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Are you kidding? This is Tampa, home of the legendary Power Pig. Home of the infamous Calta/Bubba war. It's fierce, to say the least. We're launching a show in a VERY competitive market, with heavy hitters like Kane and Orlando holding down the heritage fort. I have so much respect for all the teams we're up against. I think what we do is different and unique, though, and there's a huge place for it in this area.
2) What are you doing social media-wise?
Using it to reach listeners, one at a time. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you have to be very aware of them. My favorite at the moment is SnapChat, since it's such a personal and direct link to the people who listen to you. It shows them that you're a real person and makes you instantly accessible.
3) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
We get involved in everything! We're always out somewhere with an incredible street team, which is something I've always loved about Hot 101.5. It looks like a party wherever we go, and now that I'm part of it, I can say it really IS that way. How fun is that? We get paid to throw parties!
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
Connecting with people and making them smile. That might sound corny, but there's absolutely no better feeling than making someone else's day. Whether it's with a prize, a story, an artist M&G, or having the community rally around one of their own in a time of need.
5) What's the coolest promotion you've ever been involved with?
Hands down it was when I was at Island 106 and we worked with Paige Nienaber on The Fugitive. I'd wanted to do The Fugitive for years and we finally got to do it. Let me tell you ... it was everything I thought it would be and more. The execution, the listener interaction, the anticipation ... it was RadiOrgasmic.
6) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
His name is Dave Crosser and I promised him that if I ever got an award for radio, I'd thank him for giving me my start. Well, this is close enough! Seriously, though, he gave me a shot right out of college and taught me the basics of this business. His passion for it is contagious and I couldn't ask for a better mentor. He truly gets it. And I have to say that Steve Kramer was majorly influential, pushing me to the absolute limit so I could be better. And I don't think they know it, but The Bert Show has indirectly had a hand in my morning show career, since both Kramer and Miguel look up to them and grew up listening to them. Their show has therefore shaped how I do what I do.
7) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
A little bit of everything. I still really enjoy Country; I have a huge passion for Classic Rock; my soul is a teenage girl so I adore all things Pop and Dance; I grew up with Oldies; I like to pretend I can rap; and (let's be honest) is there anything more attractive than a guy with messy hair rocking his guitar? (Patrick Stump, call me.) So really, I'm all over the board.
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
Someone once told me radio is a very seductive mistress, and I think that might be true. The lows can be really low, but the highs ... whew. They're sky high, aren't they? Nailing a post, signing an autograph for a person who loves you because you're you, crafting the perfect tease for an entertainment story, introducing an artist in front of a huge crowd, hearing a promo you tweaked for 72 hours sound bigger than life on the air ... I'm hooked. Sign me up for life.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
People are people. I've spent time in both small and large markets now, and the one thing that remains the same are the people you're targeting. The people you're trying to win over have the same desires and needs, no matter what size city they're living in. They all want to be heard. They all want to feel connected ... which is why it's so important to go out and meet them. That's what's so great about our business ... we are given an amazing platform, with which we can bring people together (especially in an age of online isolation.) If you're doing it right, there's an electricity that happens when that connection is made.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Learn how to do everything! Make yourself hard to replace. And leave your ego at the door. You're not better than anyone, and you should be ready to jump in and do the dirty work.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
After I got over wanting to be an orthodontist (thanks for that idea, mom) I wrote paper after paper about wanting to be an "entertainer." I think it could have ended one of two ways: I could be working the Vegas showgirl circuit right now, or I could be having a blast with my best friend every day on the radio, making people laugh. I think we're all lucky I ended up in the latter ;)