10 Questions with ... Geno Pearson
August 27, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KHMX/Houston, MD 1989-1991
- KTBZ/Houston, on-air personality 1996-1997
- KNRX-Oklahoma City, MD/on-air 1997-1999
- The Point/Greensboro, NC-APD/on-air 1999-2000
- WEND/Charlotte, on-air 2000
- WWRS/Birmingham, PD-2001-2002
- WRAX-Birmingham, on-air 2002-2006
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was always a music geek growing up. Listening to radio in my room late at night, seeing what stations I could pick up from around the country. I would make up my own radio charts when I was 14. When I was in college my major was Computer Science. Then I saw you could get a degree in Radio & TV, and I was sold and switched my major.
2. How did Birmingham Mountain Radio come about?
Birmingham has always been a great musical town with some great radio stations. From 1996-2006, WRAX was a legendary Alternative station in the market and around the country. Then from 2008-2010, there was a great Triple A WWMM (Live 100.5). After that station went away, the eventual owners of Bham Mtn. Radio were convinced that some local radio group would put on a station like the two mentioned. But it didn't happen -- we thought we could do it but couldn't afford to buy a stick. Then we thought we could do it on the Internet and here we are!
3. Do you see it as filling a musical void in the marketplace?
There was a HUGE void for any type of new rock-related music in this town. The only current Rock station in town has a very heavy rock lean to it. This town loves to discover new music and go see new, upcoming bands when they come to town. That is why The Civil Wars and Alabama Shakes were selling out in Birmingham before most towns. Most stations in town are at least partly piped in from other markets. Our listeners want their station to be live and local.
4. How would you describe the music on the station?
We are a Triple A that has an Indie/Alternative lean to it. We love to take chances on new bands and songs. We also do the singer/songwriter side, too. We run around 60 currents a week with a max spin around 20-22. Our gold is primarily Alternative-based, since WRAX was a mainstay in this town for nearly a decade. We have an "oh wow" category that we get a great reaction from our listeners. That category has around 400 songs in it. You can hear "Kiss Off " by Violent Femmes, "Beat So Lonely" by Charlie Sexton, "74-75" by The Connells or "Dear Prudence" by The Beatles. We also have a great local music scene with some great labels like Communicating Vessels, Skybucket and Ol Elegante. We try to have a few local bands in current rotation. We just won't put them in rotation because they are local, but that really hasn't been a problem because the product has been good.
5. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
It is amazing. It is great to see that people still enjoy real music - and not overdubs and bad overproduction. Yes, that is still out there but a lot of music that has started on Triple A has crossed over to pop success.
6. What new bands are you most excited about?
It's great to see a band from just north of Birmingham, Alabama Shakes really take off this year. They were the house band for a Best of Birmingham event less than a year ago. I also love Scars on 45, Husky, Beach House, Lumineers, Heartless Bastards, The XX, Gary Clark Jr. , Shovels & Rope, School Of Seven Bells and ZZ Ward.
7. Who else is involved in the effort?
There are three principal owners of Bham Mtn Radio. We were very fortunate that all three had what we needed to start the station: myself for programming; Jeff Clanton for sales and a GM role; and Jeremy Harper, our IT wiz. Also, I can't forget Scott Register, the host of Reg's Coffee House. He has an incredible 15-year history in this town and to get him to come aboard and believe in what we were doing helped give us instant credibility with the community and with record labels that might have been unsure about what we were doing.
8. How do you physically present yourself to the community?
We are hyper-local. We have a staff of around 20 and if there is a cool event in town we are there. Last year we had to approach people about events and this year now people are coming to us because they have seen the successes we have brought to events. Everyone involved with the stations lives and breathes the lifestyle.
9. What are some of your biggest challenges as an Internet station?
Getting people to believe in Internet radio. It is getting easier day by day, actually. It would be nice to get national buys. We'd love some of that beer money, but we are now getting local agencies on board. We can show them real-time numbers, which really works well for our sales staff. Our TSL is crazy. People put us on at their desk and leave us on. Also, not all labels are on board with Internet radio. If we aren't on Mediabase or FMQB, we don't exist. It seems the higher-ups at the labels don't get it ... yet. Most of the heads of the Triple A departments believe in us. They see that we can sell music locally and sell out shows, too. With Internet becoming more available in cars, it's only a matter of time that the lines between terrestrial radio and Internet radio become intertwined. Is "intertwined" a word?
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... sugar-free Red Bull!
Last non-industry job:
The always popular, waiter in college.
First record ever purchased:
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John in 1976. I was 10 and some guy tried to pass me a joint! I was with my mom. Come on, dude.
Favorite band of all-time:
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Spending time with my family -- my son loves sports and I enjoy watching him play baseball and football. He's kind of a badass at it. He gets that from his mom because I suck as an athlete.