10 Questions with ... Tommy Castor
February 9, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I was born and raised in the Wichita area, and up to this point, I've spent my whole career in the Wichita area as well. My very first radio gig was in 2005 with Entercom's 105.3 The Buzz (KFBZ) in Wichita. I spent a year-and-a-half there, spent two years at My 93.1 (KHMY) in Hutchinson, KS, and joined iHeartMedia in Wichita in 2008. In my time with iHeartMedia, I first worked with our Classic Rock station, and then in October 2011, moved over to Channel 963 (KZCH), where I'm currently the PD and I handle middays on the air, plus I do early afternoons on our AC station, B98 (KRBB), and I do nights on our Hot AC station in Colorado Springs, My 99.9 (KVUU).
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
I learned a TON. I did everything from making copies and getting coffee to getting a chance to learn about being on the air and how programming works. I was only 18 and the PD/morning host at the time (JJ Morgan) called me Little Tommy since I was so young, and as an homage to Larry Lujack. I got a chance to do weekends and really learn the business. It was crazy, tough, fun and it's great to think back to those days!
2) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Yes and no. I think all PDs have more on their plate with different digital platforms to manage as well as the on-air product, as well as challenging expectations, but it really is a matter of working smart while working hard. I wouldn't be able to survive without my daily to-do list and making sure that my priorities are always set.
3) What is your favorite part of the job?
I love putting the pieces of the puzzle together. When you can marry together great music, compelling content, entertaining talent, killer promotions and contests and it all comes together, that's pretty satisfying. It doesn't always happen ... sometimes one or two pieces may be missing, so when you can bring it all together, it's really great.
4) What is the most challenging part of the job?
I've been told before that I'm an idealistic person. Sometimes that can be a bad thing. I always feel like things should ideally go the way they need to go, but anybody who has worked in radio for more than five minutes knows that this is rarely the case. Sometimes it's challenging for me to let go and realize that the ideal result may not be the reality for a situation.
5) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
My first mentor and boss was JJ Morgan, and he really did take a chance on me and my passion. After that, Lyman James was my first OM and not only was a phenomenal boss, but I consider him a second father to me. I've been super-fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly smart people in my career who have helped form my career in awesome ways, like Tony Matteo, Rich Davis, Tommy Austin, Tony Banks, Greg Chance, Rod Phillips, Carl Anderson and a ton more. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am now.
6) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I'm a big-time golf hack. I try to play as often as I can, even though I never seem to get any better. I play golf like this: nine shots in a row are absolutely terrible, but the 10th shot is okay. And the 10th shot is enough to make me want to keep playing.
7) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
I have a pretty diverse playlist, but I have two rules: 1) It must be relaxing. I'm a huge fan of Jack Johnson and music like that. 2) It can't be anything that I currently play on my station. I want to keep those worlds separate as best as I can.
8) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I sometimes have to stop myself in the midst of busy days and deadlines and a never-ending to-do list, to remind myself that what we are doing is FUN! We get an opportunity day in and day out to make someone's life a little better by the music we play and the stories we tell and the connections we make. It's really easy to take that for granted, but that, at its core, is why we do what we do. I try to not forget that.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
I'm a firm believer in just trying to be a good person. I don't always succeed in that, but whether I'm in a position of management with my staff, or in a position of listening to those above me, I'm nothing if I'm not respectful, kind, approachable, caring and easy to talk to and work with. Again, I don't always succeed in that, but that's my goal every single day I walk in the door.
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Don't let anything get you down or take away your passion. Sometimes when people peek behind the radio curtain, they find out that the show business element of radio isn't as strong as they thought it would be and they quickly lose passion. They may also have a hard time getting started or getting hooked up with the right people to start their career path. Don't get discouraged, keep working hard and if your passion can shine through, you'll make it!
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I actually wanted to be a television weatherman. I've been pretty obsessed with the weather since I was a kid and I always wanted to be on TV giving the seven-day forecast. As soon as I found out I needed to be good at math and science, that dream went away. That being said, I was pretty excited the first time I got to give a weather forecast on the radio!