10 Questions with ... Otis
August 9, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Got my start in radio in Bloomington, IL at 101.5 WBNQ under Tony Travatto and mentor Russell Rush. Did nights at U93/South Bend for five years, afternoons/APD for Kiss 95.1/Charlotte for 10 years, and now current PD at 99.7 DJX Louisville.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
There was a magic about the team at WBNQ when I was just a lowly part-timer hungry for work. Tony Travatto was a great leader and with Susan and Fasig, Tony in afternoons, Russell Rush at night and myself overnights/night co-host, the station was firing on all cylinders. The atmosphere was creative and fun, the promotions were bigger than life, and it was the last time I saw a 28 share at a station. What a way to start this crazy career! I still refer to it when coming up with ideas and in my own leadership.
2) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
I think what makes DJX unique is that my team is hungry, creative and always puts in the extra effort. There are no weak links. We are cohesive in the way we interact and all take ownership in the product. I can't say that for every station I've worked for. There is no division of talent; we are the definition of a team. We play hard together and run the same play. Plus, with market veterans, it's easy to understand the qualities that make Louisville, as a city, unique and incorporate it in every aspect of the station. The heritage of the brand and loyalty to the talent is apparent when we're on the streets.
3) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
This is my first full programming spot. Any programmer these days can tell you that there are so many hats, you lose count. Brand Manager is used to describe many PD positions and it really makes the most sense. I am responsible for every single little detail of the "brand" that is 997 DJX. That's on-air, marketing, talent coaching, promotions, imaging and music. Then add in digital brand managing and marketing, as well as social media guru, content creator, oh, and I've got this radio show I do too! Ha ha! My show still is my most important and favorite part of the day, but it takes some great time management.
Aside from all that, being a dad to two beautiful kids and a husband is my #1 priority. I sleep too, sometimes.
4) What are you doing social media-wise?
The greatest viral moments are the ones you rarely see in advance. I've found that organic moments and content stretch the farthest when approaching social media. People quickly see through cheesy bits or forced content. It's moments like, getting a young girl, afflicted by a life altering disease, in to meet her idol Selena Gomez. Then, Selena doing a dance video with her that gets seven million hits. We focus on trying to create content that feels effortless and hits an emotion for our followers. It's really the same approach to content on air. Creating a connection in a personal way will win over anything on-air or on socials.
5) "Local local local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
This is something we live by at DJX! Louisville is a small town, medium-sized city. True Louisvillians don't see themselves as a big city. They love their town, their local college team (U of L or UK), and their bourbon. We beat the streets and try to create connections with fun games, or events that bring the city together. Or we go to the small subdivisions and meet them where they are. We relate our content and imaging to what is on the people of Louisville's minds. We broadcast from local high school games, roll through U Of L Campus, make T-shirts with our logo in U Of L colors. We make DJX a landmark of Louisville, as much as the Ohio River is. Live, local talent who are hungry to shake hands with the P1's makes such an impact too.
6) What is your favorite part of the job?
I'm a creative mind. In the past, I've just had to pour all my creative ideas and thoughts into my show. My favorite part now is that I get to create with an entire station. I'm responsible for how it looks, feels, and sounds as a whole. When I've written some amazing imaging, put on the awesome promotion, or invented the super-viral moment that gets the station trending, that is the exciting part of being a programmer. My wife gets to hear the gloating probably more than she cares to. It's what gets my blood running and my excitement peaking.
7) What is the most challenging part of the job?
What is the most exciting part of my job, is also the most challenging. Being in charge of such a heritage, big brand is tough. Being creative on demand, finding the moments that matter, and doing something unique is the most challenging. A challenge is what makes life fun, though!
8) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
One of my favorite we did recently was the Bieber Bandit. We had a pair of VIP tix to see the Biebs. Playing off his rabid fan base and his massive pop appeal, we did a contest involving clues given out by the person (Jason Bieber, his long lost cousin) who stole our tickets. He'd call in several times a day at designated times, give clues to his location and the first to find him won their way into the sold-out show. The character development, story line and interaction with listeners was so great. Not an original, but a goodie! Then we capitalized even more by flipping our entire format to Bieber 997 the day of the show. All Bieber, all day! Imaging and all! That trended fast and was a moment to remember.
9) What's the most unbelievable on air bit you were allowed to do?
Can I tell you about the one I was almost allowed to do? It got nixed in the ninth hour. U Of L is a major player in Louisville. During the peak of the BBall escort scandal that was national news, I tried doing a promotion where we gave away a chance to win an escort! All week long, listen for the "recruitment letters," figure out what the letters spell and you win a crappy 1995 Escort GT. We got to the point of going to buy the car and were told it could cause too many problems locally. FAIL!
10) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
B96 Chicago is and will forever live in my heart as one of the coolest stations on the planet. I remember wanting to do radio just like them. The Killer B imaging, the Mixmasters, Eddie and Jobo. The station was and is a banger! That's where a lot of my passion for radio stems from ... growing up hearing that come out of my car speakers.
What ringtone do you have on your cel?
Tupac - "Toss It Up!" If you know me, you know why. Tupac's biggest fan! People get annoyed usually that I don't pick up till the last ring. It's because I have to rap the whole verse every time. It gets a little awkward in church.