10 Questions with ... Jim Nelson
October 17, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started college radio in 1978 and spent five-plus years in the KLOS/Los Angeles programming department. I did weekends at KCAL/San Bernardino and worked as a board-op at KTWV Los Angeles. I've also co-produced, written and/or directed syndicated radio shows PowerCuts, In The Studio and Rockline.
I was also a writer and editor at The Album Network for 11 years, and did short stints at Radio & Records and Triplearadio.com; I was concurrently a freelance music writer for two decades, writing artist bios and articles in Paste, Performing Songwriter, RIP and Request magazines.
I launched A Taste Of Triple A in 2004, and I started at KCSN in October 2010 doing Saturday mornings. In July 2011, I took over mornings at KCSN.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was about seven years old when I heard a new song on the radio by The Monkees called "I'm A Believer," and something about the sound of that song sent me into orbit and I've never come down. Years later I started college as a Theater Arts major but after visiting the campus radio station during my first semester, it was like I woke up and realized that's what I'd always wanted to do.
2. After many years as a journalist, how does it feel to be back on the air at KCSN?
Being on the radio was the thing I got into this business for, but after 23 years off the air it never occurred to me that I'd ever get the chance again. Now, after a year on KCSN, I am still giddy about it. It's an exciting radio station, and I'm privileged and honored to be doing mornings at a station that also includes veterans like Sky Daniels, Nic Harcourt, Julie Slater, Robert Hilburn and Les Perry.
3. You also produce the monthly A Taste Of Triple A samplers. Tell how that business evolved?
When I joined The Album Network as Music Director in 1992 one of my duties was producing their Rock CD "TuneUps." A few years later I took over the Adult Rock department and with that role came the Totallyadult TuneUps, which I did for a couple of years. When The Album Network closed in 2003, I took the sampler with me to Triplearadio.com for 18 months. I left in the fall of 2004 to be my own boss ... and that's when I launched A Taste Of Triple A. In the past seven years it has grown from about 160 Triple A stations to its current list of more than 260 Triple A and Americana stations, and in early 2011 A Taste Of Triple A was voted the #1 sampler at Triple A on the Shining Heads Poll. The best thing about the sampler is all the great music that I get to be involved with and share with radio stations.
4. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
It's as good as ever. I've been a music junkie for about 45 years, and there has always been extremely wonderful music to discover and share; now is no different.
5. What new bands are you most excited about?
Where do I start? Scars On 45, Fitz & The Tantrums, The Rescues, Golden State, Courtney Jones, Oceanship, Fleet Foxes, Wheeler Brothers, Sea Monsters, Daphne Willis, Diego Garcia, Cody Beebe & The Crooks ... that'll do for now, but there are plenty more.
6. Favorite artist you have met?
I've been very fortunate because I've met Bruce and Little Steven, Bono, Adam and Larry of U2, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and I've had the pleasure of interviewing Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Neil Young, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Adam Duritz, Melissa Etheridge, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Karl Wallinger of World Party, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Robbie Robertson, everyone in Van Halen, Steven Tyler and so many more.
7. What do you think of the current state of the Triple A format?
Ooh, a loaded question. Radio has taken a lot of shots in recent years, and many people in the industry bad-mouth Triple A because it doesn't give new songs enough spins or sell enough CDs for their taste, or maybe because they just don't understand it, but in all my years of being a radio fan I can honestly say that Triple A -- and I mean the aggregate of Commercial and Non-Commercial -- is the most interesting and rewarding format I've ever heard. It's a format for intelligent, inquisitive music fans, and it's as good today as it's ever been in my opinion. I'm truly honored to be a part of it.
8. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Interesting question. At the risk of being cliché, I guess it would be that you don't always get what you want, but you always get what you need.
9. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I would love to be a statistician, announcer or historian for major league baseball, and I love landscape design. Or maybe I'd write historical novels.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... breathing. And Jill (my wife), Myles and Madison (my kids). And music. And working.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
What is this "spare time" you speak of? In the few hours a week that I'm not working or sleeping, I love to watch my daughter perform (dancing, singing, acting) and my son play basketball. I love movies and reading, usually about U.S. history, baseball or music.
Last non-industry job:
Delivering LA Times newspapers in 1985.
First record ever purchased:
I don't recall, but it would have been a pop record in the late 1960s.
The Beach Boys, Santana and America at Angel Stadium on July 3rd, 1976.
Favorite band of all-time:
If I have to pick just one it would be Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band -- live, circa early 1980s; if I could add one more name to the list it would be U2, Counting Crows, Jackson Browne, Five For Fighting, Melissa Etheridge and World Party.