10 Questions with ... Katie Speirs
May 9, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I interned at KBCO in college and have mostly been at KTAO ever since.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I interned for KBCO and KHIH in college in 1997.
2. You and your partners have recently taken ownership of the station. How did that all come down?
This coming September will be my 7th year with KTAOS... we actually closed the deal last September 16th ... and that was my 6th anniversary ... funny how that worked out! Brad and I always had a close working relationship and personal friendship. I believe he saw not only my dedication, loyalty and ability to take the station to the next generation as he became closer to retirement, but also my business partners. Brad is an inspiration and we have learned a lot from him over the years. When he first approached me to purchase the stations and our venue, I felt it was too much to take on myself. Then he approached my partners Kate (Sales Manager) and Shannon Black (GM). Once we decided to team up (my husband included -- Aidan Bain, our Engineer), it became more feasible from a financial and management perspective. We took the ball and rolled with it ... and here we are today, successfully plugging along with passion, hard work and immense gratitude everyday! Brad is our "Solar Dad" and we love him! He is still doing afternoons for us. His dream with KTAOS was that he wanted to change the world. He certainly has by starting the only solar-powered radio station ... and we hope to continue fulfilling his dream!
3. Have you changed the personality/sound of the station much since taking over?
No; the music is skewed a little younger, but we didn't want to change anything drastically, especially in the first year of ownership. But for the most part, everything has remained the same in terms of the sound of the station.
4. Paddy Mac is taking a more active role in the music now, isn't he?
Yes ... and he is phenomenal. Paddy Mac is hugely talented. Not only is he smart and skilled, but he is the nicest guy - and a good friend! Everybody loves him. The sound of the station (musically) is entirely in his hands and I get more phone calls and e-mails since he took over as PD, complimenting the sound. We are honored to have such a talent working with us with loyal diligence on a daily basis; he is gifted and he loves radio! And we are grateful. I am so proud of him! I would be so thrilled to see him win awards for his PD skills, because he SO deserves it!
5. What are some of your biggest challenges as an independent station?
Really just that we're a very small station in a small market and therefore we all wear many hats. There is no such thing as a slow day around here! Someday we hope to develop further and by hiring more people so we can take "the machine" we call KTAOS and really push the limits of its ability further with a bigger "army." There is only so much we can do now -- which is great -- and it's working just fine. But in the future, more staff = more productivity.
6. Besides the station, you also have several other enterprises under your roof. Tell us about them.
Yes, we have LUNA 1037, an AC station that started in 2006 with radio geniuses John Bradley and Dave Rahn (what a huge learning opportunity it was working with them; they are radio geniuses - seriously!). We also have the KTAOS Solar Center and The Station Bar. An indoor-and-outdoor music venue and full liquor license. Our backyard looks out onto protected Taos Pueblo land, so the view is stunning, and the community really loves it. Our brand lines: "Come Drink in the View" and "The Community's Backyard." We have had many great live shows here, from Doctor John to Joan Osborne to Connor Oberst, even Los Lonely Boys! We also have nightly Station Bar activities like Trivia Night on Wednesdays and LGBT Thursday Nights Out. Live music every Friday and Saturday. It's such a cool scene as you walk in and pass two live radios stations that you can see into from the bar. There are signed guitars on the walls - it's very rock and roll around here! And KTAOS is still the "community radio station" and will continue to rule that role here in Taos.
7. I imagine Taos is a growing market. How has it changed over the past few years?
Taos is an interesting place. The economy has taken its toll here as the "Great Recession" really hit us later than the majority of the country. We're now starting to come out and things are picking up. One of the major changes that has happened since I have lived here is: Taos Ski Valley opened up to snowboarding (it used to be skiing only). This brought in many new visitors to Taos, which has seriously helped the economy.
8. If you could add any one full-time position to your budget, what would it be?
Well, when Brad is ready to fully retire (and he will be as he and his fantastic wife Janet are building an amazing sustainable home), we will then need to hire a full-time afternoon DJ. And, like I said, we all wear many hats around here ... and so will that person, which will help alleviate some pressure on all of us.
9. What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
This is tough - I have received a lot of great advice from amazing people, and some bad here and there. It's like asking who my favorite band is ... too many choices to narrow it down.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ....
My business partners!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Traveling, cooking, skiing, relaxing at home with my husband and dogs, spending time with my family.
Last non-industry job:
BBDO Advertising Minneapolis
First record ever purchased:
Madonna "Like a Virgin"
Favorite band of all-time:
Can't say ... too many to choose from.