10 Questions with ... Craig Russell
August 11, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started doing weekends (13 hr Sunday shift playing Rick Dees, Casey Kasem and Scott Shannon-on VINYL-and a short on air shift in 1990 in Battle Creek, Mi (B-95). Been all over the Midwest, mostly Michigan, with stops in Ft. Wayne, IN, Muskegon MI, 2 trips to Gaylord, MI, Kalamazoo, MI (Hometown... EVERYONE should work at their hometown station once), Waterloo, IA, Traverse City, MI. Grand Rapids, MI and now in Jackson MI. 25 years on the air.
1) What led you to a career in radio?
I woke my parents up from a sound sleep broadcasting a baseball game in MY sleep at age 8. I was pretty destined to go into some sort of broadcasting.
2) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
This is a smaller hometown-type station that still gets people to respond to remotes and contests on the phone. In 2015. I know! Seriously, this group does it the right way: Interviewing local people almost daily, giving back to the community (just completed a 3 hour radio auction that raised $7000), doing 4-5 remotes a week. AND doing broadcasts from local events we might not make any money off of, because it's the right thing. Radio is still alive and doing very well in Jackson, MI.
3) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
In the summer of 1999, the station I was at procured at 2000 Volkswagon Bug. At the height of "Y2K Mania" we had the ultimate "Y2K Bug" to give away. Got HUGE response.
4) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
The Nylons, a Canadian a cappella group from the 80's.
5) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
Gary Spears at K-Hits in Chicago. He's smooth and has sounded the same (great!) for the past 30 years. From Hot Rockin CHR to Classic Hits, he has been in some great situations and knocks it out of the park all the time!
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
B-96 in Chicago and WHYT in Detroit. Those 80's "Hot Hits" stations always sounded Big Time.
7) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
Lots of people. Eric Davis, who was my first real pro "teacher," taught me so much about the ins and the outs of the biz. Smokin' Joe Dawson was my first PD. He was a legend on and off the air. Bill Hennes, my first GM, taught the right way to do this crazy job. John O'Rourke, Phlash Phelps, Trey Alexander, Jim Richards, Fernado Ventura, "Ranger Bob" (Mark Erikson) Chris Duffy, Dennis Lucas, Rob Weaver, Jake Edwards, Dave Michaels, Dave Lawson, Dave Benson (lot's of Dave's) Kim Brixton, Man At Large, Aaron Santini, Mark Elliot, Dennis Winslow, Jerry Tarrents, Matt Hendricks, Tom Cook, Josh Garber, Jamie McKibbin, Jared Hammond... it's a long list, but I have learned so much from these pro's over the years. And I still am learning.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The Golden Rule. Treat people the right way. It's not just a radio thing, but a life thing.
9) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Stick with it. Shut up and open your ears. Learn all you can and keep learning.
10) What is the current state of the radio 'talent pool'?
It's struggling. There are no testing grounds for new talent anymore. Who does live overnights, and even weekends anymore? Kids have no place to start and screw up and learn.
What ringtone do you have on your cel?
The song Barney from "How I Met Your Mother" had on his phone number from the Super Bowl that kept ringing with hot chicks. My phone doesn't have such luck, however...(sad trombone).