10 Questions with ... Dave James
October 4, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first paid gig was at Choice 102.2 in Birmingham, the U.K.´s second city. I was 18, landed an overnight show after a background in voluntary hospital radio and loved it. I´d been studying at university to be a music teacher, but dropped out when radio became more than a hobby.
Since then, I´ve spent time at a national station called Atlantic 252, big-city stations including Galaxy and Radio Aire, and a local town station called Town 102 in Suffolk. I also spent time as Production Dir. for the CN Radio group.
Three years ago I moved to Spain to re-launch the expat radio station 93.6 Global Radio. There is a dense expat community in the region of 355,000 British people living in the sun. Add to this the 1.6 million English speaking tourists who visit the region every year, and there is an opportunity to make great and profitable radio.
1) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Haphazard. Radio here is largely unregulated. If you have a transmitter, in theory you can get on the air. As a result there are lots of small amateur stations that have limited appeal. By creating a consistent and focused sound, we have been able to establish ourselves as the leading English speaking station in the area.
2) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
Maybe not the coolest, but perhaps the most fun ... Sandals resorts sponsored a promotion to win a trip to the Caribbean. Our promotion was called the Caribbean Cow.
Very simply mechanic: When you heard the cow "moo" on air, call up to get in the draw.
When we had 20 finalists, we took them to a large field in the nearby countryside. In the field we had painted 20 numbered squares in a grid, and each finalist was asked to pick a number. We then introduced them to Daisy the cow, who´d been fed a lot of cow food the day before. The winner of the holiday (with a prize value of 5000 pounds) would be the person with the number of the square in which Daisy took a dump!
After about four hours of waiting around, Daisy did her thing and we had a happy winner.
3) What's the coolest promotion you've ever been involved with?
Clubbing Round The World - Atlantic 252, a youth brand. Bacardi sponsored a promotion that enabled a winner and guest to travel first-class and visit a nightclub on each continent. This was before the days of social media and even the Internet on the whole. The whole thing was done on air only, and the winners had the time of their lives. It´s a prize I would have loved to win at the time!
4) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
Nick Pandolfi, afternoon presenter on Town 102 in Ipswich. He has a very dry sense of humour, and is often hilarious without sounding like he is trying to be. His warm personality and genuine passion for the listener comes across every time he speaks. One of the most talented presenters I´ve worked with, and continue to listen to.
5) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Long Wave Radio Atlantic 252. It was all about music and personality, no news or travel news or anything else which at the time, I wasn´t interested in. The hits were huge, the personalities all had ridiculous names like Sandy Beach and Beverley Hills. It was an amazing station. I couldn´t believe my luck, years later, when they offered me a job. It was a dream gig.
6) Do you have a favourite hobby outside of radio?
Things with engines that race! I love racing cars, current and classic. My wife and I travel to Grand Prix and local race meetings. Being in radio has also opened up some doors to get close to some iconic cars and drivers. Fantastic!
7) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I wish I knew. There is just something about radio that only people who do radio seem to "get." The buzz of being on air? Knowing you´re making someone´s day a little brighter? Giving away prizes? Hosting live events? Reacting to and reflecting on the biggest events happening in world news? Playing great music? Shaping the direction of a radio station? Developing presenters and helping them to take their careers further? Maybe a combination of all these things, which no other job offers.
Or perhaps it´s just the huge pay packet. Okay, maybe not.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
There is always something else to be learned!
9) What advice would you give people new to the business?
Be nice, be humble, welcome criticism and don´t be afraid to ask for it. Remember the people you meet ... it´s a small industry and you never know when an old acquaintance could become a good contact or a great help to you. Yes it´s a job, it´s work, but enjoy it. If you love what you´re doing in radio, the people around you will love you for it.
10) What is the current state of the radio 'talent pool'?
From the demos which pour into the station, I´d have to say it´s poor. Or maybe technology has just allowed for an influx of people desperate to get on the air emailing audio to every station they can find?
The vast majority of demos I receive are poorly presented and completely inappropriate for our market. We´re a Pop station, yet I receive lots of audio from Hip-Hop MCs and Deep House DJs who could really "kill it on your station bruv."
Every so often a well-crafted demo will arrive. I´m not looking for perfection, but for passion and a genuine desire to improve, learn, and enjoy.
For someone vacationing in your market, what one thing would you say they "must see"?
There is an exotic animal rescue centre in our area. They rescue and rehabilitate animals seized by customs, or rescued by police from drug dealers and such like.
Every time you visit, you never know what they will have as the animals are moved onto safari parks and zoos when they are healthy. But, unlike most zoos, you can get close to and handle the animals, as most are already domesticated. I don´t know of any other zoo in Europe where baby monkeys climb on you and a tiger cub will sit on your lap like a house cat. It´s a phenomenal experience, and something that I recommend to everyone who visits us.