10 Questions with ... Gabby Parsons
November 5, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I was a radio gypsy in my early years, working in chronological order: Hartford/Syracuse/Worcester, MA/ back to Hartford/Oklahoma City/Seattle/Madison/Albany NY, back to Madison. I have worked free-form, AOR, AC, Hot AC, Country, Music of Your Life, News and Public Affairs, Triple A ... I was also a production director and copywriter. Name it, I've probably done it.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was the kid with the transistor radio late at night, searching for distant stations. I can't remember a time when I didn't have the radio playing.
2. Who were/are your mentors?
When I started in 1971, there were very few women doing free-form Rock radio. I learned a lot from the late George Taylor-Morris when I worked at WHCN/Hartford. I loved listening to Cousin Brucie at WABC when I was growing up. He always sounded like he was having a great time, and it inspired me.
3. How would you describe the music on the station?
We are a fairly conservative Triple A with a large gold-based library. We tend to skew more mainstream.
4. How are the music meetings conducted?
I meet every Monday morning with PD Pat Gallagher and OM David Moore. We are chart/spin counters and base our adds on what is charting the highest that we are not yet on, providing it fits our sound. I try to bring in songs that I think will become hits, but we don't usually listen in the meeting until we are getting ready to consider it.
5. Tell us about the special slots to you have to expose new music.
Every weeknight at 9p, I play two brand new songs. The only criteria I use is whether I like the song or not. I have complete freedom in selecting these songs. Every Thursday is new Music Thursday, where each hour from 9a to 99 starts with a new song. I have complete control over these songs as well.
6. What has been your biggest career highlight?
It's been a long career and there are many high points. What comes to mind first are all the artists I have met and interviewed including Trey Anastasio, Warren Haynes, LP, The Lumineers, etc. I am very proud to have won the Madison Area Music Award for Local Radio Personality of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
7. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
The one thing that really concerns me is how young people do not seem to gravitate towards the radio as much as they used to. We need to compete with Pandora, Spotify, iPods and other music providers. We need to make sure these people stay radio users.
8. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Don't do it! (laughs)
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The only thing that is constant in radio is change. If you don't roll with the changes, they roll right over you.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I would go back to teaching.
Last non-industry job:
Marketing Director for a cosmetic dentist.
First record ever purchased:
First single: "Red Rubber Ball" by Cyrkle. First LP: "Moon River" by Andy Williams
Bob Dylan, Carnegie Hall, October 1965.
Favorite band of all-time:
I have two -- Frank Zappa and Phish
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I love to read and travel.