10 Questions with ... Scott Mullins
February 27, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started the Saturday Night Blues Party at WFPL while a student at University of Louisville in 1986. Hosted the show for 20 years until 2006. Helped design the format of WFPK "The New 92" when it switched to Triple A in 1996. Host and co-producer of WFPKs Live Lunch from 2000-2006. Afternoon-drive host from 2000-2006. Co-host and producer of the Dirty Soul Party 2002-2006.
Afternoon Drive Host at 88Nine Radio/Milwaukee 2006-2010. Music Director 2008-2010.
Program Director at WTMD, May 2010.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
As a young kid I caught the last years of the heyday of AM pop radio. In Louisville we had two dueling Top 40s, WAKY and WKLO. Every single morning while getting ready for school, my mom had the radio in the kitchen tuned to WAKY and the legendary morning man Bill Bailey, the "Duke of Louisville." He created this amazing world that I would envision every morning. He played cool records and I'd hear sets that would include Charlie Rich, CCR, Gladys Knight, etc. Between songs he'd turn his acerbic wit on local politicos and various current events. He was funny as hell and self-deprecating. I would listen every morning and wish I could go to WAKY and hang out in The Duke's world instead of going to another day of classes at Johnsontown Road Elementary School.
Later in high school it was FM, of course. Then it was all about the music and I really dug that. I've always considered myself more of a music guy than a radio guy.
2. You have been at WTMD long enough to feel at home. What are your thoughts about the station?
The best is yet to come!
3. What adjustments have you made?
Quite a few, actually. One of the first things I did was reduce the number of currents so as to increase the spin count, and keep the currents spinning for a longer period of time. I also restructured our breaks and where they fall within the hour. I overhauled our clocks and our music rotations as well. Plus freshened up the library with some cool tunes and culled out a lot of the slower, acoustic, folk-based death dirges.
Then I shuffled our entire broadcast schedule, including moving World Cafe from the middle of the afternoon to 7p after our drivetime shift ends. I also moved the long-running WTMD Roadhouse from Friday night to Saturday night. I made some adjustments to the lengths and times of our dayparts. Added several new specialty shows in the early evening and put our own local host on the air from 10p to midnight. I hired the legendary Weasel to host a weekend show as well. He was on the air in the DC and Baltimore area for 40 years and the response to his return has been incredible.
4. Have those adjustments resulted in any significant changes in listenership?
Absolutely. Our weekly cume has more than doubled in 18 months, from 50,000 in August, 2010 to 129,000 in November, 2011.
5. How would you describe the music on the station?
Man, that's always a tough question to answer. As long as I've been in this business I've never been able to come up with the perfect, concise description of the Triple A format. Whenever someone who is not familiar with the station asks me to describe it, I always give it my best shot and then just ask them to listen to it for a few days. But since this is an industry publication, I'll just say that we are an adventurous Triple A that leans toward rock, indie rock, R&B and Americana, with some older '70s and '80s tracks to provide context. We are not afraid to step out and take a chance on unfamiliar artists. If I hear something I like, I don't have to wait and see which other stations are going to add it before we move on it.
6. How is your weekly music meeting conducted?
I meet each week with the air staff -- Erik Deatherage, our morning host and Sr. Producer; Tyler Laporte, Music Director; and Matt Galler, midday host. It's a very simple formula: We all bring the tracks that we are diggin' at the time, give them a listen and argue about them. Collectively we cast a pretty wide net and we bring a lot of different tunes to the meeting. My role is to keep the sound of the station in mind and ultimately decide what we add.
7. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
My biggest challenge is trying to craft an overall sound that appeals to the extraordinarily wide age range of our audience.
8. What are some of the unique aspects of Baltimore you've learned about?
Believe me, I'm still learning. I really like the historic aspect of Baltimore. There is an old-world feel to some parts of Baltimore that you just don't find in most American cities. This is also a Southern city that bumps right up against the North. After all, the Mason-Dixon Line is the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Because of that close geographic proximity, Baltimore has a unique mix of cultural traditions and influences. This is one of the few places I've been where you can find both grits and scrapple on the breakfast menu. I tried the scrapple once and I think I'll stick with the grits. It feels good to be back in the South.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
There's never enough room to add every record that you would like to add.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... a cup of Zeke's coffee while reading the newspaper and talking to my wife Aimee.
LAST NON-INDUSTRY JOB:
There were several that overlapped including stints at The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife as Television Director and in the Public Relations Department at Jewish Hospital. But the last really fun non-industry job I had was as Bourbon Director at Old Towne Wine & Spirits in Louisville. Ha!
FIRST RECORD EVER PURCHASED:
Around The World with Three Dog Night. I was 10 years old and saved grass cutting money to buy it from Consolidated Sales Dept. Store in Louisville, KY. I still have it and in fact played it on the air recently.
Kiss with AC/DC (with Bon Scott) opening. 1978 Freedom Hall, Louisville Kentucky.
FAVORITE BAND OF ALL-TIME:
Impossible to answer ... but the Stones are always near the top of the list. Along with The Replacements , The Meters, Bodeco, My Morning Jacket, Albert Collins, Wilco, Chris Whitley ... wait, John, don't cut me off! There are so many more!
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I've always had more interests than I have time for. I love water skiing and spending time on our boat with Aimee. I'm a life-long record collector and crate digger. Long live vinyl!
I've had a lifelong interest in photography and used to love spending time in the darkroom but now concentrate more on shooting. I have a respectable art collection that I have managed to trade and barter for with friends, and I love Southern outsider art in particular. I love to hunt and fish. I collect vintage lever-action rifles.
Traveling is very important to me and I have seen a lot of the world. I love flea markets, antique and junk stores. I was an American Picker long before the TV show. I read a lot -- all kinds of subjects. I love books and will never give them up for a Kindle. I like weird old movies. I enjoy spending time with my dogs and I have learned to love a very cool tabby cat.