10 Questions with ... Mark Adams
September 13, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Though originally from Wisconsin, my first radio job was in Jonesboro, AR where I also attended high school and began college. I went on to nights at KOY-F in Phoenix, was the APD/MD/night jock at KKXX/Bakersfield and later held the same positions for XHTZ/San Diego. My first programming job was at KBOS (Rhythmic Top 40) in Fresno, where I later added duties for KCBL-A (Sports-Talk). I programmed Modern AC for Saga at WPNT/Milwaukee, Top 40 for Bonneville at KZQZ/San Francisco, then moved on to become the VP/Programming for Rose City Radio in Portland, OR, which included Rhythmic KXJM and News-Talk KXL-A. After eight years in Portland I joined CBS Radio/Houston where I spent six years ultimately in the VP/Programming role for that market, including Top 40 KKHH, Hot AC KHMX, Country KILT and Spanish KLOL. As I was anxious to move back West, in late 2013 I left Houston to become the VP/Programming for iHeartMedia in Portland, OR. which includes KKRZ (Top 40), KKCW (AC), KFBW (Classic Rock), KXJM (Top 40/Rhythmic) KLTH (Classic Hits), KEX (News-Talk) and KPOJ (Sports-Talk). While I had intended to stay in that position for some time, the opportunity to transfer to San Francisco came up far quicker than I'd either hoped or anticipated. I'd wanted to get back to the Bay Area for many years and was both grateful for and excited at the chance to join KIOI and KYLD.
1) While vacationing in San Francisco, I heard KYLD in nine out of 10 Uber cars. Is this the result of targeted Uber marketing, or is there a larger listening trend afoot?
I can't intelligently speak to our appeal with Uber drivers, but I'll take it! While that's anecdotal, from a results standpoint we've inarguably broadened the appeal of the station over the last 18 months. I'd like to think we've done that without taking anything away from the station's heritage position in the market, either. Wild is an extraordinarily well-known brand in the Bay Area with multiple decades of history and that's definitely a competitive advantage. Building and expanding upon that great base has been a lot of fun, and we seem to be in a position that a lot of listeners are excited about. Apparently, including Uber drivers. I'll need to get a Lyft poll into the field, too, and see how we're doing there.
2) When you arrived in San Francisco from Portland, what was mission #1?
Both of the stations were already doing well when I arrived, though the main and immediate project involved continuing the evolution of KYLD from a more Rhythmic-based brand to a Mainstream Top 40. Other than that, the main job you have when you join any station(s) or cluster is to become familiar with the brands, their various strengths and weaknesses and challenges, all of the team members in the building encompassing programming, promotions and marketing, digital, and sales, and becoming familiar with the market to ensure you have an accurate perception prior to making adjustments or wholesale changes. I had an advantage to that last point as I'd programmed in the Bay before, but nonetheless it always takes a bit of time to identify the challenges, draw up plans to address them, and then lead your team towards effective execution. I find I'm never more busy than during the first three to six months of a new position -- though it's one of the things I enjoy doing the most.
3) What moves did you make to grow KYLD?
As I'd mentioned, beginning around Q3 of 2015 we began evolving Wild into a Mainstream Top 40 position from its more Rhythmic heritage position. I accelerated that once I hit the ground in late Q4 of that year. That really involved just about everything. Our music and clock architecture, imaging, marketing, our digital strategy, our competitive programming strategy, the coaching of the morning show and other day parts, and arguably, of greatest importance, our day-to-day execution. There's always work to do and things to improve upon, but on the whole I'm pleased with our results to date. We moved ahead of our main competitor in all three major demos (A18-34, A18-49, and A25-54) for the past year. For Q2, Wild finished #2 A18-34, #1 A18-49, and #2 A25-54. And in our most recent month, (August) we finished #2 A18-34, #1 A18-49, and #4 A25-54; again ahead of our main competitor in all three demos. This is a complicated market with a very crowded and ratings compressed competitive environment, and those competing stations are run by very sharp and aggressive programmers whom I have a lot of respect for, so we're constantly making adjustments. It can be a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun. It's certainly always interesting.
4) Your market has a unique ethnic make-up, to say the least. Does this change your approach?
It does, but to some extent you can say the same thing about any market. Having said that, the Bay Area is certainly more ethnically diverse and geographically complicated than a lot of places. It's important to take the time to thoroughly understand the geography and the demography of any place you're going to program, and then encompass that understanding to customize the approach you hope will be most effective for the station. Speaking to the Top 40 for a moment, there are certain sound codes or kinds of records we look at more carefully, and likely earlier than many markets, due to those more uniquely local factors. The Bay Area itself has a certain sound, and even swagger, that's represented by everything from the local artists who have become nationally well known, (including G-Eazy, Kehlani, Marc E Bassy, etc.) to the mix show and DJ cultures, to having Silicon Valley in our backyard and facing both Pandora and Spotify as significant competitive factors. And there's that challenging ethnic diversity and sprawling geography I mentioned a moment ago. All of those factors impact how we program the stations as I want our brands to be hit-based commercial properties, but still accurately reflect the lifestyles of our listeners and truly be local radio stations that serve the community.
5) There are lots of stations there, but the top 3 are Talk formats, and the top 2 are AM stations. What's up with that?
It's a unique market in many respects. While our stations are physically located in the city and county of San Francisco, that's actually only a small part of the DMA. The Bay Area encompasses Oakland and all of the East Bay, the North Bay, including Marin, Sonoma, and Napa, and the South Bay along the peninsula including Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, and San Jose. The San Francisco radio market is one of only two markets that has an entire other major market embedded within it; that being San Jose. The total Bay Area population exceeds 7.1 million, is geographically far-flung, and very ethnically diverse. Due in no small part to the tech boom, there's also a large population of affluent households and as a result we have some of the highest rents and real estate costs in the country. That demographic, geographic, and qualitative information aside, we're also one of the most over radioed and ratings compressed markets in the country.
In addition to IHM there are four other completely consolidated major operators here, along with a host of smaller groups. Taking all of those into account, in addition to secondary or tertiary listenership from Outer Bay markets that also penetrate into the DMA, you have 75+ radio stations above the line in Neilson. All of these factors help explain how a number of spoken-word stations drive high levels of total (6+) audience listening. It's not at all unusual for News, Sports, as well as National Public Radio to all be within the top 10 A25-54 as well. Having shared all of that, when you focus in upon the contemporary music format station's programming demos, there's a goodly number of radio stations at or near the top of the various ranking and total AQH positions in many if not most monthlies and quarterlies. So it can be a bit misleading solely looking at the market's 6+ numbers and attempting to judge a station's individual performance by that metric, but at the same time it's certainly indicative of the unique make up the market and the many challenges that presents to programming here.
6) What have been some of the hottest tunes for Wild so far this year. Any surprises in the mix?
Among my favorites this year to date include: Chainsmokers featuring Daya "Don't Let Me Down," Twenty One Pilots "Stressed Out," Major Lazer featuring Justin Bieber "Cold Water," Sia "Cheap Thrills," Drake "One Dance," Chainsmokers featuring Halsey "Closer," Ariana Grande "Side To Side," and Kungs vs. Cookin' on 3 Burners "This Girl." That last record we broke out of the Bay. Travis (Loughran) and I found it streaming and showing up in some international markets and felt like it might blow up if we gave it the exposure. It's been cool watching that one take off nationally.
7) Was there a song that was a national smash that you just couldn't get to work there?
Generally speaking the hits are the hits, though owing to our unique factors and the station's brand expectations, on occasion there's a handful of records that are a lot bigger nationally than they are for us locally. The best example of that year to date is probably James Bay "Let It Go." That was a big national hit record that never looked great for KYLD any way you parsed it, but alternately it's been a home run in every way for KIOI.
8) Run down your on-air lineup, and brag on the strengths that each talent brings to the station.
The morning show for Wild is The JV Show. That's JV, Selena, Graham, and Crystal. JV's a market legend. He had the top-rated show in the market for many years with "The Doghouse" back in the late '90s and early 2000s, and has reinvented himself and his show over the past several years into a powerhouse yet again. Selena's his main co-host and brings a lot of humor along with her unique viewpoint. She knows the market and her viewpoint and life experience are valuable daily contributions. In additional to his on-air role with the show, Graham is our full-time producer and has proven himself a tremendous asset. He's intelligent, focused, and has a tireless work ethic. We're lucky to have him. The newest member of the program is Crystal. She's someone who JV found that more or less came right off of the streets of San Jose, and is a funny young lady who hustles hard and brings a lot of authentic life experience to the show. Crystal is now doing some weekend work for the station as well. The JV Show has had several quarters in a row of top-tier performance including #1 A18-34, #2 A18-49, and consistently top 5 or better A25-54. They do a great job for us and I enjoy working with them on the show.
Middays are handled by market vet Dreena Gonzalez who is simply terrific. She's personable, does a lot of prep, and routinely executes at a high level of performance. She's also a national talent for iHeart's Top 40 Rhythmic National Custom format. Our newest full-time member of the air staff is Julian Lee, who does afternoons. Julian joined us from our sister station in Phoenix, (KZZP) and also has morning show experience from his time with WBBM/Chicago. He's high energy and imminently likable, great with the phones, and has thrown himself into getting to know the market. Evenings is held down by Gabby Diaz. Gabby joined us about a year-and-a-half ago from KPWR/Los Angeles and has simply killed it at night. She's authentic with great swagger, committed to social media, and her love of the music and artists really pops out both on-air and on-line. We also have an incredible lineup of mix show DJs who are a mixture of locally based as well as syndicated or tracked due to their travel schedules, including Magic Matt, Jose Melendez, Jeanine Da Feen, Patrix, Magic Matt, Yo Yolie, Rebel Pop Radio with Evan and Cutso, Ghetto House Radio with Josser, which is nationally syndicated here from KYLD, and others. And I'd be remiss in not taking a moment to shout-out our APD/MD for both KYLD and KIOI: Travis Loughran. Travis is driven, organized, passionate about music, and has tremendous instincts. He's an invaluable partner in the programming of both Wild and Star and I feel fortunate to work with him.
9) What imaging voices are you using?
I'm currently using Dave Kampel and Blaze for Wild. Dave is a nationally recognized V/O artist including radio and TV, is a music producer, and also runs DK Flow. That's an imaging service that provides custom sung/artist sound-alike elements for radio. We utilize them on KYLD and they sound amazing. Hit up Dave at DK@artistfirstmedia.com for a demo of that service as well as his other V/O work. Blaze is a major-market V/O actress with a long string of national credits to her name including MTV, Oxygen, VH-1, The Travel Channel, HGTV and many others. Fun fact: She played the child character "Ellie Creed" in the '80s Stephen King horror film "Pet Semetary." Yes, I nerded out on her when she told me that. She's represented by Nate Zeitz at CESD Talent in New York and her bio is available at www.BlazeBerdah.net/aboutme.html.
On Star we utilize Drew Patterson and Kaija. Drew does a lot of national work for both radio and TV, including promo's for Fox's "Lucifer," ABC's The Crew," The History Channel, among others. I really love his delivery for Star; he's warm and personable but also sounds fun and cool. His demo can be solicited by contacting Lisa@AtlasTalent.com. Kaija is a national promo voice for MTV, does video game V/O including for Rock Star Games, and does national radio and TV work for a long list of well-known brands. She's an adult communicator but has great energy and provides a fun and playful delivery. She and Drew are both fantastic audio complements that help define the personality of Star. Her demo can also be heard by contacting Nate at NZeitz@CESDTalent.com.
10) What's your favorite hobby outside of radio?
I'm a voracious reader. On average I'm reading a book or two a week each week and I carry my Kindle with me pretty much everywhere. On a far less intellectual note, I'm also an avid gamer and spend an embarrassing amount of time playing X-Box One or PS4. I wasted a staggering amount of time earlier this year collecting bottle caps in Fallout IV and cooperatively knocking over the banks of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V.
Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
Sheldon, from The Big Bang Theory. I often feel like a (slightly) more socially adjusted version of that character. And, no, I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested.