10 Questions with ... "Holmes" Brian Holmes
March 1, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 22 years!
- 2005 - present WSNX/Grand Rapids and WVKS/Toledo
- 2009 - present WNSL/Laurel-Hattiesburg (nights) & WFKS/Jacksonville (wknds)
- 2005 WFFY/Ft Walton Beach (APD/afternoons)
- 2002 - 2005 WFLZ/Tampa (wknds) & WFLA/Tampa (talk producer/commercial production)
- 1997 WYYX/Panama City (PD/afternoons) & WILN/Panama City (weekends)
- 1995 - 2000 Metro Networks/Tampa (traffic reporter)
- 1995 - 2000 WSRZ/Sarasota (nights) & WSPB/Sarasota (Ops Manager)
- 1989 - 1995 (tons of various learning experiences in Alabama & Florida)
- 1989 Power Pig/Tampa (weekend intern at 15 years old)
1) Congratulations on Holmes & The FreakShow being #1 18-34 nights in Grand Rapids for 20 books in a row ... right?
Yeah, it's crazy ... #1 18-34 every book since we arrived in August 2005. And in the Fall 2010 book, the FreakShow was 23 shares ahead of the 2nd place station. We've also been #1 25-54 at night in Grand Rapids for three of the last four books and #1 18-34 at night in Toledo three of the last four books.
2) What's the FreakShow's formula for success?
We entertain our audience by using our audience to entertain each other. It's the listeners' show. THEY are the FreakShow. THEY drive the show. No rules. Anyone can get on air if they have something to say, so you never know what you'll hear. We just provide the "funny" in between the listeners, put it all together and get it on the radio. But you can't do this kind of radio without a very patient and understanding management team around you. Every night before bed, I thank the radio gods that I have WSNX PD Eric O'Brien on my side. I've certainly spent my time in the "principal's office" -- Market Manager Tim Feagan and OM Doug Montgomery's offices, but they have always been extremely fair with my show and let me have a long-enough leash in order to win. Without the full support of those three, The Freak Show wouldn't exist. And finally, you HAVE to have good chemistry with your co-hosts or it'll never work. I'm an incredibly hard person to work for, but somehow my co-hosts Big Mac and Ashley Mariah have stuck by me and have become my best friends.
3) You're heard on a bunch of other stations too. Name 'em, and share your secrets for time management ... how do you crank out all of that content?
We started the show on 104-5 WSNX/ Grand Rapids in August 2005. We've been on 92-5 KISS FM/Toledo since September 2005. We did weekends until April 2009 when they asked us to take over weeknights. About a month after that we added weeknights at SL-100/Laurel-Hattiesburg, MS as well. And also in 2009, we became a part of 97-9 KISS FM/Jacksonville's excellent weekend lineup. Content, believe it or not, is the least of our problems. There are no pre-recorded or pre-planned bits. The callers here in Grand Rapids (where we're based) drive the show and sometimes even hijack the show. It's all phones. And the Grand Rapids callers are so good from being trained over six years of listening to the show that we are pretty much able to do all three night shows simultaneously. We start WSNX at 6p, KISS Toledo at 7p and SL100 at 8p (ET). Once we get to 8p, it's pretty crazy doing all three stations at once, but by then all the calls are edited and it's just a matter of feeding them to the other stations. We generally have to have all three shows complete by 10:30p because we end the night at a club remote usually, 3-4 nights a week.
4) How would you describe the radio landscape in West Michigan?
A lot of music has disappeared from the FM dial with two Sports FMs now battling it out, plus our big News-Talker, Newsradio WOOD 1300, is now also on FM. We have two Hot ACs trying to sound Top 40, but they fail because they won't touch anything even slightly Urban or Rhythmic sounding. There's no real Active Rocker, no real Alternative Rocker, no Urban FM, no Spanish FM. Compelling, personality-driven radio is hard to find here. Then there's us. WSNX tries to serve as many of those people as possible who don't have a station. We've become an incredibly diverse, personality-driven Top 40 with a slight Rhythmic lean. That Rhythmic lean not only includes Hip-Hop, but the current Dance/Electronic product and sound that's starting to be heard more and more.
5) What makes your station unique? How would you compare it to other stations you've worked at?
The longevity of our key air personalities ... and their ability to relate to all ages over multiple platforms. We've been able to pull in not only some incredible #1 18-34 numbers, but some top-three 25-54 numbers as well over the past year. We even hear more and more lately from listeners who say our music might not be their favorite, but they love the Morning After or The Beatdown or they wanna hear the crazy stuff from the FreakShow.
6) Could you give us a little insight into your on air staff?
Broadway heads up the Morning After. He actually started at WSNX back in 2000 as a morning show producer for us, then later became our night guy until 2005. After stops doing nights at KSLZ/St Louis and back here at WBCT/Grand Rapids, the opportunity opened up to be able to put him in mornings last year. He's teamed with Internio and Hughet, and now that they've gone through their first year they've settled in nicely. Krissy Taylor holds down middays. PD Eric O'Brien and [the eob show], along with Goofy Whitekid mixing on The Beatdown at 5p, rule afternoons, with Holmes and The FreakShow at night. We also have an impressive pool of local DJs who produce some tight mixes every week.
7) Are you wearing more "hats" than in the past?
Our studios are located on the 10th floor of our building. When I'm outside on the first floor, Big Mac sometimes leans out the 10th floor window and knocks the top hat off my head ... LOL. No, honestly, figuring out what the next hat you'll be wearing and exactly how to wear it IS the most challenging part of the job now. I find myself doing more web design and going on more sales calls than I ever would have thought I'd be doing.
8) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
Without a doubt, The Power Pig/Tampa. In fact, I can prove it, since I own the fan site for the station at www.thepowerpig.com lol. Power 103 KHTR/St Louis in the late '80s was my first favorite radio station and I always liked the night jocks on Q105/Tampa.
9) What music do you listen to when you're not working?
Dance/House/Electronic! Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, Afrojack, Tiesto, Kaskade, Wolfgang Gartner. I just got back from my third trip on The Groove Cruise out of Miami. Imagine an entire cruise ship of only Electronic/House music fans, 2000 of them to be exact, sailing to the Bahamas over three days with 55 different DJs spinning, including Darude, George Acosta and Dirty South. Pretty amazing time.
10) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I try to make my audience afraid to miss any part of my show, afraid of what they'll miss next. I think this industry has done that to me as well. I'm afraid to miss what's next.
What's the biggest gaffe you've made on-air?
Biggest total accidental gaffe would be when I did nights on Oldies 106 in Sarasota in 1997. I was talking up "I'll Be Doggone" by Marvin Gaye and at the post for some reason I said, "keep it here, All Oldies All The Time, Oldies One Oh Shit" instead of six. No idea why, it just happened. I just happened to be airchecking, went back and listened to it 100 times seeing if there was ANY way I could play it off like I said something else. Nope. I went in the next afternoon swearing I was gonna get fired and instead of waiting to get yelled at, I just sat down in the PD's office with my tape and had him play it. He listened two, three, four, maybe five times, and then just started laughing. He called the GM in, played it again, the GM started laughing and told me make sure it doesn't happen again. I came in that night and there was a giant "OLDIES ONE OH SIX" sign in the studio over the board.