10 Questions with ... Jet Black
January 25, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- I've been a few places, but the highlights are:
- Music/swing - WWWQ/Atlanta
- APD/MD/nights - WRVW/Nashville (still consider the PD one of my best friends)
- Nights - KSLZ/St. Louis
- Music/nights - WAKS/Cleveland
- APD/MD/Nights - KTBT/Tulsa
- PD - WHZT/Greenville-Spartanburg
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
One hell of a trial by fire. I was fortunate enough to work with guys who had been doing it for quite some time, so I was able to dive in and see how everything worked without being a "threat." The Music Director took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, including how to use Selector. I cherish it. Funny enough, it was with Renda Broadcasting in Oklahoma City while I was in high school. I'm proud to say I've come full circle.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
Ask any one of my teachers or family members growing up and they'll all tell you that I was blessed with the "gift of gab." Sometimes that gift put me in the hot seat. Luckily I developed a love for music -- plus I had acquired a mic and tape deck when I was a kid; the mimicking began and 20+ years later here I am.
3) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Over-radioed. The competition for audience here is FIERCE. There are five different clusters in town and each operator has similarities to someone else in town. Lots of fragmentation, but it makes for one heck of a contest.
4) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
We have a two-sided story here. With KHTT, our Top 40, we've been playing some form of Top 40 for going on 30 years. I'm convinced that we could damn near shut down the transmitter and go dark for long periods of time and we'd still go top 10 12+. In all seriousness, K-Hits is one of those "Gatorade" like brands that has always adapted well to changes in the marketplace and changes to the audience. Constant evolution is what I inject into the K-Hits' staff. Swim in the blue ocean.
On the other hand, we have a baby with KBEZ. After doing AC for 30 years, the marketplace had changed so much that we were fighting a major uphill battle, so we blew it up to make way for Tulsa's first true variety format in Bob FM. So far, we've seen a great response from the audience as well as the advertisers. We all know that Arbitron has a tendency to lag behind a bit, but we are actually seeing healthy growth in multiple places. We will continue to grow this into another un-stoppable brand in Tulsa.
To compare Renda Broadcasting to any other company I've been with would be unfair to Renda. There's something to be said about an owner/operator who is willing to get down and get his hands dirty with you and that's exactly what you will find in Tony Renda and his management team. He has absolutely no fear and he's willing to give you all the tools you need to win. There are not many people still doing traditional callout due to the cost, but Tony recognizes the importance of having that data in your tool chest and he has been a big advocate of keeping it around for us. I couldn't ask for a better situation.
5) What is your favorite part of the job?
Programming the station I grew up listening to. K-Hits is the bug that bit me. I remember fondly the glory days of '80s Top 40 mania on 106.9 here in Tulsa and I take those memories into consideration when we plan things today. It's pretty humbling.
6) What's the coolest promotion you've EVER been involved with?
The Lake House(s). When I was in St. Louis, our staff had the kind of mojo that many only can dream of having in their careers. And anyone who has spent any time in that city knows "THE" summertime destination is the Lake of the Ozarks. Because Z was so plugged in, we would literally uproot the radio station and move everything to the lake for Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. On-site was an adventure; on the air it was bigger than anything you could possibly imagine. Look out -- we're doing the same thing here in Tulsa, this year.
7) Could you give us a little insight into your on air staff?
It all starts with great leadership and you won't find a better leader than our GM Jon Phillips. He's a consummate professional who really appreciates the people he hires and the product they create. By far the best GM I've ever had the pleasure of working with and I'm not just trying to kiss ass.
In the morning we have the Billy Madison Show. I was lucky enough to spend a few years with Billy and Derek across the street at KTBT. Since then they've spent some time in Dallas; K-Hits was in the right place at the right time and we scooped them up last year. They are easily the best show for entertainment value in Tulsa, bar none. They're growing by leaps and bounds and I know the sky is the limit as long as they are on our team.
Middays is anchored by Cristal, who doubles as my APD. She has a real connection with her audience and she's been a fixture in the hallways of this station for a number of years. In just the last few months I've really seen her come into her own with her two positions and I couldn't be happier with her being here.
That Jet Black guy I have in afternoon drive totally sucks.
My Music Director is Chase Thompson. He's been here for a few years and he has a real passion for the music. Not to mention he's the only person I've ever met who took home the Selector manual one snowy weekend and read it cover to cover. There is no one I'd rather have handling the music then him. He will be a PD one day ... just hopefully not competing against me.
The weekends and overnights on K-Hits feature a real cross-section of people. One guy has been doing the same shift for 10+ years and another worked at KIIS-FM in LA. We have the biggest names in mixers on staff, as well as a Promotions Director that I used to pester when she was doing nights back in the '80s and '90s.
Bob sure is a nice guy, but I can't seem to get him to come out of our basement. He's still trying to organize his record collection alphabetically by artist and then by album name. Weirdo.
Bottom line, everyone is someone around here and I'm beyond grateful for their contributions. I couldn't ask for a better team.
8) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
The Bert Show at Q100 in Atlanta. I worked at Q when the station was still a baby and the morning show cast was still finding their way in Atlanta's radio landscape. I'm not surprised that they have become a phenomenon and will continue to be some of the biggest names in Atlanta. They totally get it. And Bert is one of the best human beings I've ever met. He defines the term "the real deal."
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Always try to outdo yourself. I see more people get caught up in the minutia of what the guys across the street are doing and they lose focus on their own task at hand. Swim in your blue ocean and avoid the red ocean (Google "blue ocean strategy" to know more).
10) What would you like to do to save radio from its "dying-industry" image?
I would love to teach programmers how to create a brand, not just a radio station. We have to all stop being so one-dimensional. There are so many untapped resources out there and it helps to stop spending so much time on crap that doesn't move the meter. Create, create, create. Never stop innovating and always try to outdo yourself. Quit worrying about the other guy(s).
What's the best sweeper/liner you've ever heard?
Soon, there will be two kinds of people ... those who listen to 104 KRBE ... and those who don't listen to anything else ... Now THAT'S attitude!