10 Questions with ... Jamie Canfield
October 10, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started at KSUA in 1983, which at the time was a carrier current station on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. When it went open-air FM, I was the night jock, and I was constantly getting in trouble for pushing the boundaries of the AOR/Progressive format. I became Music Director in 1986, and was constantly getting in trouble for pushing the boundaries of the AOR/Progressive format. I left Fairbanks in 1988, and worked for three independent record labels of the next 13 years -- Rounder, Rykodisc and Righteous Babe (I like the letter R). After that, I returned to radio in 2001 at WNCS/Burlington where I was constantly getting in trouble for whatever reason. I moved to Sun Valley in 2010 to marry an old flame after reconnecting on Facebook and to work at KSKI.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I wanted to be Doctor Johnny Fever the first time I saw WKRP In Cincinnati. I got my first gig at KSUA, which was at the time a carrier current station on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. I didn't end up being Johnny Fever; I was Venus Flytrap.
2. How are things coming together for you at KSKI?
Slowly, but surely. I have had to totally rejuvenate a music database that was put together by four different programmers with hugely different tastes in music. Before I started the job, I asked people in the community what they thought was wrong with KSKI, and most of them had the same response --- "put good music on the air, because KSKI sucks." So, I've spent the past year retooling the library to provide a wide variety of music that is still cohesive.
3. Was it a hard transition from a larger to a smaller market for you?
I wouldn't say hard; I would just say different. The feedback has been almost immediate -- and extremely positive, which is different in a larger market. My philosophy is that with a small market you can take different aspects of radio and combine them. I've taken what I know about public, community, college and commercial radio to give my listeners a broader range of music than you would normally hear on the air on a commercial station. Our library is about 3,800 songs, which gives the listener a surprise now and then. Not that all those songs are in rotation, but you might just hear something that you haven't heard in a while. Its great not having management dictate what I can put out on the air.
4. How would you describe the music on the station?
We're running a bit more modern rock than your average Triple A station, but we still have the core artists that most stations share. We have a lot of transplants from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle in the valley, so what I've tried to build is a station reminiscent of KROQ, KITS and KNDD in their heyday. Every day, I have to build a playlist that's exciting, fresh and recognizable, but at the same time try to supply something that you can't find anywhere else. Our library includes everything from Muddy Waters to Sham 69. In an hour, you can hear everything from Alison Krauss to Beastie Boys. I hand-schedule all the music from 6a to midnight. It's like an iTunes playlist for the listeners, because I don't think of the Classic Hits station in our market as competition; I think of satellite radio and iPods as my main competitor.
5. Tell us about the market(s) you serve.
The Wood River Valley is our main focus, which includes Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, and it is a mix of working-class people, entrepreneurs, movie stars and millionaires. Sun Valley & Ketchum are tourist destinations, while Hailey and Bellevue are communities for those who can't afford $5 million houses. We broadcast into Twin Falls, a town that's comprised of farmers and blue-collar workers -- not a big market for Triple A radio, but with our modern edge we are garnering a younger listening audience down south.
6. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
Turning around the conception that KSKI is the same station it was before I got here. When I got here, the library was a mish-mash of angry boy mook-rock, lame singer songwriter pap and a small amount of music that I would call core Triple A music. The library is still a work in progress, but the feedback from the listeners has been nothing but positive, and I can walk the streets now with my KSKI T-shirt and not worry about having a bag of cow poo hurled at me.
7. If you could add any one full-time position to your budget with no questions asked, what would it be?
A midday host that also doubled as a Promotions Director, who also would bring me donuts. In a perfect world, it would be a female, because right now, KSKI is a sausage factory.
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Boredom. I think the homogenization of radio is only reinforcing listeners' beliefs that the Internet is the only place to find quality music. What I'm trying to do at KSKI is bring people back to the radio to find new, exciting music. One day, we'll be streaming and then I can share what I'm doing with the rest of the world.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
It's about the music.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... waking up and thinking how lucky I am to be clean, happy and have a great life that I get to share with everyone in the valley every single day.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I listen to music, watch kung-fu movies and get on my Vespa and ride through the mountains trying not to catch too many bugs in my teeth because I'm grinning all the way.
Last non-industry job:
First record ever purchased:
Harry Chapin "Verities & Balderdash"
War in 1975
Favorite band of all-time: