10 Questions with ... Sky Daniels
October 31, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Radio V1: Have Smokestack, Will Broadcast! WKDD/Akron; WYDD/Pittsburgh; WWWW/Detroit; WLUP/Chicago.
- Radio V.2.: KFOG/San Francisco; KMET/LA; KISW/Seattle.
- Label V1. Sony Music; PolyGram Label Group.
- Media and Consumer Marketing: R&R; Best Buy Corp.
- Label V2: RED/Sony; Fontana/Universal.
- Radio Re-born: KCSN/Los Angeles
1. How did you become interested in radio?
My cousin worked with Alan Freed. He owned a powder blue pop-top T-Bird. He gave me stacks of hot wax. I knew I had to do this at age 5.
2. How did the gig at KCSN come together for you?
I was in the hospital for a while. As they say, when you are in a hospital bed hooked to machines, what becomes important to you? I knew I wanted to go back to my true love. Fortunately, a couple of (rare) opportunities opened in L.A. area when I got out of hospital. I sensed this, while a total uphill battle, would allow me to help build a dynamic station.
3. Since you have been there, you have made considerable sonic adjustments. How you describe the music on the station now?
Well, the LA Times called it "Smart Rock." We use that positioner on-air. In reality, we are an ambitious Triple A that is significantly current (40%) and plays gold from '70s to now. I personally favor melodic modern songs. We also use "Melody & Message" as a positioner. I say this so some corporate poacher won't come along and try to trademark it. That happened at NINE FM with "We Play Anything" after we created that positioner.
4. Tell us about your weekday air staff.
The format knows Jim Nelson, who does The Taste Of Triple A. Jim does mornings. Meishel, our midday host/Production Director, was formerly a covert operative in the Middle East. He has a sketchy past, but is a wise man. I do afternoons
5. You have also shaken up your weekend schedule with some great specialty shows. Tell us about that.
KWSD's Julie Slater heard the station and immediately fell in love with it. She gets to play what she wants here. Robert Hilburn, the Dean of Rock music critics, spent 35 years breaking artists at the Los Angeles Times. He has the passion of a 16-year-old, the humility of a monk, and a treasure trove of interviews with the biggest stars in the world. We added Acoustic Café and eTown -- two of the finest syndicated shows in Triple A. We also put on the Latin Alternative here in L.A. Josh Norek and Ernesto Lechner (of the LA Times) are the incredibly connected hosts, and the show is co-produced by Chris Wienk -- who demonstrated uncommon foresight by launching this in Albany. I have a couple of MAJOR new additions coming soon.
6. Tell us how Nic Harcourt has been helping you out.
Helping me out? That's like saying Mother Theresa gave me a good backrub. The man is a saint. He has been selfless in his dedication to KCSN. He has impeccable taste, resolute passion and a will to win like few possess. Nic is the reason KCRW is an international brand. PERIOD. Nic is now here, and instead of the intern he had when he started at the Santa Monica Community College 11 years ago, he has me. Bet wisely moving forward, my friends.
7. You are just wrapping up your first fund drive - tell how that went with the great auction items you had.
So many of the world's biggest acts stepped forward and provided us with incredible support: U2 gave us the ONLY Falcon guitar (designed by Bono) that is autographed by the whole band in existence. Coldplay, Bob Seger, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Mumford & Sons, SuperHeavy, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne ... thank you, all! Jack Johnson gave us a ukulele and linked his homepage to ours. THAT is the kind of social networking we need from acts to get the word out.
8. Tell us about the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers benefit show at the great venue you have on campus.
This, in many ways, validates my whole damn career. You are aware, from working with me at R&R, that I have given my whole life to rock 'n' roll. When I went to Tom and asked him to help me build this dream, he didn't hesitate. He said, "We'll do it." I knew what I was asking. The band that played the SUPER BOWL to play a benefit for a station no one heard of three months ago? When they said yes, I realized that every programmer who still is a true believer should have their faith affirmed. Bruce Warren said it best, "This is SO right, for SO many reasons..."
9. What has been your biggest career highlight?
Without a doubt, the Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers benefit. It had the most spiritual significance. Creating the first digital distribution system for our business (which morphed into PlayMPE) was probably my most significant creation, but that was a "vision thing."
10. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Do not adhere to any status quo idea forced on you today. No one has the right idea. Radio adheres to PMM demands -- a death wish. Labels chase "ringtones and headphones" as a culture. Artist development? A true connection to the hearts and minds of dedicated music fans? Let me know when that gets brought up on a corporate conference call....
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I work 18 hours a day, seven days a week (seriously). I squeeze in an Ohio State and Cleveland Browns game with my kids on the weekend.
Last non-industry job:
Played fiddle for Lewis & Clark expedition
First record ever purchased:
"Do You Love Me" by The Contours
James Gang/Sly & The Family Stone
Favorite band of all-time:
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers