10 Questions with ... Chris Alan
March 15, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WXMK/Brunswick, GA
- KSYN/Joplin. MO
- WWWX/Appleton-Oshkosh, WI
- WIXX/Green Bay (Go Pack Go!)
- WCHZ/Kansas City
- WILN/Panama City
1) How would you describe the radio landscape in your market?
Panama City is basically like any other market in America. You have a corporate cluster with Clear Channel operating a heritage Country and AC. They also have an Urban, a News/Talk and a small-signaled Classic Rock stick. In my cluster there is a heritage Top 40, Active Rock and News/Talk. We also have a new Hot AC hybrid. There is one other cluster that has a Top 40, Classic Rock, BOB and a Country station. There are a couple of stand-alone sticks as well. There is certainly no shortage of frequencies with 20+ viable stations in market 240.
2) What makes your station unique?
I have a full staff and a budget! How many PDs can say that these days? Also, we get out of the studio and get involved ... a lot! This is a place where the success or failure depends on the decisions we make locally. Thankfully we have gotten validation with the listeners of Panama City that we are making the right decisions! When I got here WILN was ranked 9th 12+; we are now 2nd and #1 in both P18-34 and P25-54.
3) Could you give us a little insight into your on-air staff?
Mornings begin with "That Guy" Kramer. He is the king of all things dramatic. Most recently, he married two strangers for Valentine's Day just to "see what would happen." He truly is a "student" of performing a stellar morning show and has taught me as much as I have taught him over the last couple of years. He will be one of the premier morning talents in the country one day and I will take complete credit for his success!
On the show with him is Holly O'Connor. We found this diamond in a small town in Ohio. She has great Midwestern values and adds a voice of reason to the show, while keeping us up to date on the latest news and celebrity gossip. Plus, she is super-involved in our community. Holly is the most talented female in radio who you don't know yet. But you will!
The last premier member of the show is Miguel Fuller. Once upon a time, Miguel was an intern for me at WAEV/Savannah. His favorite story to tell anyone who will listen is about one of our first airchecks. I told him that he "should stick to the liners because he wasn't that funny." Now, he has a platform for his real personality to shine through and he is the funniest and most recognizable member of the morning show.
Keeping the morning show straight is producer Mandy. She began as an intern here and quickly rose to become part of the permanent team. Mandy is smart and a sweetheart, so you just can't help but like her. She makes me smile every day with something funny she says or her having a blond moment.
Kato is the afternoon guy around here and Production Director. As a talent, Kato has been #1 in afternoons for the entire four years that I have been here. As for his production, he has swept the local Addy awards with Gold the last three years in a row. Throw in his Creative Services and awesome club hosting style at Club La Vela and he is an indispensable member of the team. And, maybe the coolest member of the staff ... he is the most stylish dresser, that's for sure.
4) Are you wearing more "hats" than you have in the past?
Who isn't! Not only am I leading the charge for WILN in PC, but I have also been working as a talent coach and music consultant with a cluster of stations in Dothan. I spend two days each week working with a Dothan Top 40 and Country morning show, scheduling music and planning promotions. It's hard work that is paying off since I have a Top 40 in PC and one in Dothan that are both #2 in the market 12+. And the billing has increased significantly in each of the clusters as well -- and that is what is most important, right?
5) What's the coolest promotion you've been involved with recently?
I would have to give credit to "That Guy" Kramer for bringing the "Bras Over Bay" promotion to the table for Island 106. The last few years we have done this we have averaged around 5,000 donated bras, which we strung together between two cranes creating a cascading curtain of bras that was placed in a high-traffic location for the first week of October. This promotion has gotten us media coverage locally and regionally. But the recognition from the females in our audience who had a personal connection to breast cancer is what made it all worthwhile. It has also created variations of the promotion that have been done in other markets around the country since the debut of our Bras Over Bay.
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
101 PIQ was my hometown station in Brunswick as a kid (now that's V101.5 in Jacksonville). I really didn't have any interest in radio until my late teens, but I will always remember getting my mom to take me to pick up a cassette that I won once on the nightly countdown when I was around 11 or 12 years old. I met Rob "Stormin" Norman, who we listened to each morning. Later in my life when I got into radio, Rob was the Production Director and morning co-host at WXMK. He taught me a lot about radio and life over the years. We still remain friends and the last time we spoke, he was doing just fine after radio as Press Secretary for a local politician.
7) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Solid programming foundations, product consistency and flawless execution of the basics will win every time! It may take 6-12 months to catch up to you if you're in a recall market (as most of us are), but it will happen ... just stay the course.
8) What advice you would give people new to the business?
Everything in life and radio is cyclical. I should give credit to Roy Williams here for introducing me to the book, "Generations" by William Strauss and Neil Howe. This was an eye-opening book for me that breaks down each generation of American history and prognosticates the sociology (and psychology) that we can expect for the future. We may not have a crystal ball that predicts the futureM but this book and its principles certainly help give you an idea of the road map for what lies ahead. You can learn from the past and you should.
9) What is the current state of the radio "talent pool"?
Poor and Small! I blame the situation in general. The larger corporate companies don't want to incur the additional cost of part-time labor or the training involved when technology can put one person in 25 different markets. Most stations simply don't have a talent-oriented coach around to help develop or discover the talent. Or even better, there are those who are so busy multi-tasking with three or four different hats, they just don't have the time to develop talent.
10) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
My girlfriend has gotten me involved with animal rescue, especially with dogs. We've had about a dozen foster dogs come through our house in the last couple of years. Currently our dog count is six. They range in size from a four-pound Chihuahua, named Tater Tot, to an 80-pound Shepherd ... Tater Tot still thinks he's the biggest.
Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
My girlfriend and I were just talking about this the other day. I like to believe that I am similar to Charlie Sheen's character on "Two and a Half Men" -- except I can't afford the hookers! But, I am really laid back. I wear those silly bowling shirts a lot and believe that I am a gift to women. She was quick to interject that I may appear that way on the outside, but really I'm more like Jon Cryer's character on the show. I am a little neurotic, OCD and just plain lame in some situations. Don't tell anyone, but I think she's right.