10 Questions with ... Jonathan Steele "Miracle"
April 12, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Became an intern at WNTO in Gallipolis, OH my freshman year (2010-2011) at Ohio University.
- Producer/Board-Op for Cox Media Group in Dayton, OH (November 2012-July 2014)
- MD/nights for WHIZ and WZVL in Zanesville, OH (July 2014-September 2015)
- MD/afternoons for ZFKY and ZFZZ in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands for a brief period of time.
- CURRENT: Nights/MDNT for WNGY in Peoria, IL
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
I've been doing Internet radio since I was 12, but my first terrestrial gig was in Gallipolis, OH. It was a small town about an hour away from where I was going to college in Athens. I literally called them up one day, they put me on the air at night (did it "fo' free") and at the time, the station was a Hot AC station utilizing (then Dial Global) Westwood One's local programming. I literally wiped out the music and programmed my own show locally. I'll never forget when the PD made the comment, "I've heard some Rap pop up in your show that I don't think we're playing." The song, by the way, was "Just A Dream" from Nelly. Hahaha! Also, another fun fact: About that time, I had no license or car. I was taking my (then) girlfriend's car in the middle of the week to drive two hours multiple times a week. She wasn't a fan.
2) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Definitely the most competitive market that I've worked in, no question. Energy's been around for about a year-and-a-half. We're a fun, upbeat, and sexy Mainstream Top 40 station that leans slightly Rhythmic. We have a direct Mainstream Top 40 competitor here in Peoria and another one that's 50,000 watts that booms into the market from about 40 miles away. We also have a Rhythmic Top 40 competitor whose studios are literally right around the block from ours. We also have an AC in our cluster that heavily leans Hot AC. Lots of Justin Bieber to be heard!
3) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
This is the most I've done in radio thus far and I've only been here a month-and-a-half. All three of us (our PD Chris "Lucky" Stewart, Scotty "TacoBody" and I) eat, sleep, and breathe this radio station. We're constantly thinking one step ahead every day and going the extra mile just to make the radio station sparkle and shine. Each day we go out and park our vehicles out at a different location in town so we're always seen in the community, and we're involved in an endless amount of events each month. We do the high school and college basketball games and pep rallies, free car washes, and we even were at a sorority house last month for a fundraiser/charity event they had going on. It's much better than sitting behind a computer scheduling music and doing show-prep all day. There isn't a day where we're not out somewhere in town. Also, our PD, Chris "Lucky" Stewart, is a guy who doesn't take no for an answer and makes sure along with the rest of us, we always have a kick-ass promotion going on and the station sounds BIG at all times. I'm learning a lot from him every day.
4) What is your favorite part of the job?
We all work as a team and we're literally building the history of the radio station. We plan events together, make music decisions together, even go on walks together (long, romantic ones in the park especially). We're literally a family and it's amazing to work with people who are just as passionate about seeing the station succeed as I am. I love being on the air, my show is very listener-friendly where it's a sin for me not to put at least, at the very minimum, one caller on my show per hour. Often my whole hour is full of callers.
5) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
We're doing this promotion now called "Queen B or J.B." We have tickets to both Beyonce and Bieber in Chicago and we take two callers, callers #10 and #23 and they get to pick their tix, but in order to get "pre-energized" (our version of qualified), they have to correctly guess the song lyric. Is it a Beyonce or Bieber lyric? The phones have been crazy for it. We actually were under a tornado watch here in Peoria and all of our stations simulcasted our News/Talk station and while that was on the air, we still had listeners calling for tickets. Like "Are you not concerned that there's a tornado about to touch down in your backyard?!"
6) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I actually am a huge radio nerd. Every PD who I come across can't believe it. I'm able to attach call letters with formats and markets in the smallest of towns. I spend a lot of time on various radio websites looking at playlists, listening to imaging, and checking out promotions. I love to see what everyone else is doing and I've honestly met a lot of PDs and done a lot of networking by just being a radio nerd. I actually go to bed streaming a different station every night.
7) What's the most unbelievable on air bit you were allowed to do?
Currently, right now in the 9p hour of my show, I do what's called the "Energy Expose Hour" where I let listeners put whoever they want on blast, whether it's an ex, a girl they know, or a restaurant where they received bad service. Callers eat it up and you would be surprised how much people love drama.
8) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I listened to so many, but still one of my favorites getting into the biz and one I love listening to now is Wild 104 in McAllen, TX, a completely locally-programmed iHeart Rhythmic Top 40 that caters to their demographic and sounds great in every daypart.
9) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
My #1 mentor and the man who influenced my career entirely, my late grandfather Joe Woodford - he worked in radio for over 40 years in various markets around the country. He loved radio and taught me formatics, formats, and flow, as well as many other tools. We actually did Internet radio together before he passed away in 2011 of lung cancer (on my birthday - constant reminder of what a great jock and man he was).
I also look up to plenty of people in the business. My current PD, Chris Stewart; Pat Grooves, the mix show guru and PD of KTFM in San Antonio; Ken Cunningham, PD of WQQB in Champaign, IL; Taylor Feuille, host of The Top 20 Countdown on Internet radio; Dakota Mendenhall, one of my favorite VOs; and of course personal friends and family members. I have a lot of people in my life to thank. My father, who's actually not in the business, taught me how to be a man and that was what helped build me into a person before I could be a jock. My grandmother also is one of the strongest people I know, and she calls me all the time just to check on me. She's one person I think of before I do something stupid. "What would Nanny say if she saw me doing this?!" HA!
10) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Of course, I love Pop and Hip-Hop, but when I want a break away from what we play I love listening to Alternative Rock and the classic stuff. Actually, very rarely in my free time (when I'm not listening to the station) am I ever listening to any Pop or Hip-Hop since I absorb all of that in 60+ hours a week! I love being introduced to different genres and bands. Eminem though - never can go wrong with Em. He's got to be my favorite artist of all time.
What's the best sweeper/liner you've ever heard?
Our PD here is awesome at writing imaging. I love the stuff we have on-air. He wrote a liner for Valentine's Day when we were giving away a trip to the Grammy's that said "V-Day Va-KANE-TION TIP #36, If you sit next to Nicki Minaj at the Grammys and Meek Mill catches you looking at her butt, just call Drake, he knows how to handle it. The new Energy 102-3." Our imaging is very personable and any station that does that wins in my book.