10 Questions with ... Paige Nienaber
September 6, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I would have been fired from my only on-air gig (1-7 on Sunday mornings at KYTE-A in Portland) but I was in college and knew who could sell me "stuff" for the PD. I was invaluable. They couldn't let me get away. So they stuck me in promotions which, in 1982, was the Siberia of Radio. A gulag. I've been stuck here ever since. I worked at stations in Minneapolis, Charlotte and San Francisco before stumbling into this job in 1992 and I've held onto it with a death grip ever since.
1) Congratulations on "going solo." CPR is now an independent entity. What brought about the change?
Jerry Clifton, who is/was my Mr. Miyagi and who taught me all the stuff that all of the responsible people never would have, was easing into retirement. It was the right time for both of us and as a small business owner, I can write off my hot tub.
2) You were previously the "VP/Fun & Games." Are you now the President? Or CEO?
Titles have never really meant that much to me. I'm pretty informal. But if you must, please refer to me as "Paige Nienaber, Master Of All That Is Cool And Possessor Of Super-Sub-Human Powers Of Both Good And Evil." That's actually a good question. Director of First Impressions has been taken. Maybe "Minister Of Good Times?"
3) Will clients notice anything different?
God I hope not. Unless Channel 23 in Minneapolis stops running old episodes of "Small Wonder" at noon, it should be biz as usual. Full steam ahead and all that other stuff.
4) I'm a GM. What can you do for my station?
It's a weird service. Promotions covers SO much. I provide content to the morning shows and digital departments, train and mentor Promotion Directors, help create campaigns and contests, write promo imaging, and most importantly: work with the AEs. When Debby from Sales has a vein stripping client who has $1,000 and needs an idea by 5p or the world WILL END, who does she go to at your station? It's like having a 24/7 Promotion Director for the cost of a van driver, whose only job is to be creative. It's having nearly-immediate access to me but also there's a nifty e-mail of fresh ideas that go out to all of the stations and managers every day, which they seem to love. There's also a password-protected site with a keyword-searchable archive of all these ideas. It's all about ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. I've always believed that whoever has the most and best ideas will win. And make a lot of money doing it.
5) How many stations are you working with now? Run 'em down.
Oh geez. Maybe 200, but that sounds like way more than it is since I have some group deals with Newcap, Townsquare and Alpha.
6) Short of hiring you, what advice would you give to stations with limited resources who'd like to up their promotional game?
You don't need money to be relevant. Look for stuff that's happening and jump on it. You don't need money to get noticed, which is what Promotions is all about. You just need to figure out, "Okay, what can we do with this message that will make it the ONE message of 10,000 messages that will hit your listeners today ... that will sneak through?" Read Marshall McLuhan. And don't be obsessed with "We have to give stuff to people to like us." What are we, that weird kid on the playground who eats paste and gives away his lunch so people will like him? Be a part of and connected to the community. It's not Rocket Science and it's not hard. "All of the ratings tricks and maneuvering in the world will never beat a radio station that has an emotional connection with its audience." - Jerry Clifton. Word.
7) What qualities do you look for in a good promotion director?
Hyper. A little. But not annoyingly so. They always have their radar up, looking for things that will provide them "cool stuff" to give to the air staff to talk about. They're pro-active, not anti-active. I always saw Promotions as kind of being Spanky from "Our Gang:" the center of fun in the station and the person who knew when to put on a variety show in the barn to save Ms. Crabtree's job. Creative is helpful but if there are people in the building who can come up with the ideas ... being the person who can actually implement them, is way, way more important. Strong work ethic. This is a 364-day-a-year job. It's a lifestyle, not a job. Promo Joe at Max Media in Virginia Beach is a great example. He LIVES the job. I think the best new Promotion Director in radio is Kelsey McElroy at Beasley in Wilmington. She's smart. Works like a maniac. Is FUN and brings that mindset to the station and everything they do. Is a leader for her team. And is three degrees off-center, ie: she's kind of nuts. I once saw her get up and zombie walk around a meeting as she demonstrated how to do it correctly. She went from unpaid intern in Grand Forks (where she'd filled in and done the night show, done characters on the morning show and pretty much ran the department) to PT at Power in Miami to FT in Wilmington in 90 days. That meteoric rise occurred because of all those qualities, including the nuts part.
That's Kelsey (center) showing the cheerleaders how it's done.
8) What's the coolest promotion that you've been involved with recently?
Kiss in Boise sent a girl and her mom to L.A. to see a concert and gave her full access to the station's Instagram and Facebook to cover it in real time. The first post was her sitting in the pilot's seat of the plane. It's not "Win A Baby" from Hot 89.9, but what is? I like anything that involves balls. (That's what she said.) KSON in San Diego did Make The Reception And Win A Reception:
'QYK in Tampa did it but with the Bucs' kicker kicking balls to the women.
And Hot 100.5 dropped balls out of a helicopter to award a back to school prize.
And demonstrating that she HAS balls, Sara Pepper at Hot in Houston sky dove into a grid to award a car.
9) Will you be relocating your company, or are the lights bright enough in Scandia, MN?
If I moved, the community would literally crash, much like Flint when the auto industry shut down. I feel a personal responsibility to everyone at Meisters to keep their beer flowing.
10) What's your #1 promotional pet peeve?
Missing stuff. Like, being in Florida and not acknowledging or doing something with Zika. Or being in Chicago and missing the Black Hawks in the Stanley Cup. Or being in San Francisco and having your digital department post two social media comments in the days leading up to and including the day of the Super Bowl. When the 49'ers were in it. And stations that are launched with a press release.
For someone vacationing in Scandia, what one thing would you say they "must see?"
The World's Second Largest Ball Of Twine, which is only four short hours away
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
In Cub Scouts we toured the Midwest regional air traffic control center which was SO cool. That was it. That's what I *had* to be. And then, when I was in high school, I was a waiter and found that five tables of diners completely messed me up. My dad, who was wise, suggested that if I couldn't handle five tables, that 84 jumbo jets, stacked over O'Hare in a blizzard might be even more challenging.
What was your last non-industry job?
I drove a taxi. Greatest summer of my life. I listened to the radio 16 hours a day and read a ton of books and only got robbed twice.