10 Questions with ... Rob "Arrow" Lipshutz
November 12, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Rock radio programmer, DJ and consultant: WCOZ/Boston, WHJY/Providence, WAAF/Worcester/Boston, Pollack Media Group, KXFX/Santa Rosa, Harris Communications, WEZX/Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WXPK/White Plains.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I loved listening to WIBG, WYSP and WMMR in Philadelphia on the warm sound of my dad's giant Blaupunkt tube radio (I still have it and it still works). I began collecting records and deejaying parties at age 14. I chose my college for its student radio station, Boston University's WTBU.
2. You have been at the Peak since its inception, how has it evolved?
We began with no ratings, three DJ's (Chris Herrmann, the legendary Jimmy Fink, and myself) and a few busboards to announce our arrival. We've been stable and have drawn more listenership to this station than any of our many predecessors, while filling out the airstaff and becoming a part of the community we serve.
3. How would you describe the music on the station?
Like others in the format, we call it "World Class Rock" on the air. It's a wide, inclusive mix that's 33% new and recurrent. We blend singer/songwriters, alternative and classic rock with a dash of blues and reggae. The '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and our present century are equally represented. It's both mainstream and eclectic, usually accessible and sometimes a little challenging. We don't hesitate to rock, but it's not an imperative. And we're not afraid to play a slow song if the record is great.
4. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
Our target counties are part of the NY Metro. We're surrounded by and competing with the stations of the #1 radio market, which have stronger signals and greater resources.
5. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
It's exciting because lately Triple A has been generating a lot of hits, and at the same time, widening its stylistic stance. I think this will lead to more listeners for the format.
6. Tell us about some of the big promotions the station is involved with.
Our biggest annual event is the Pleasantville Festival, which PD Chris Herrmann books. We took over from another station seven years ago and it's been a success every year with headliners such as Jakob Dylan, Marc Cohn, and Joan Osborne. Last year's lineup included The English Beat, Delta Spirit, Good Old War and ZZ Ward.
7. You have been in radio a long time; what are some of your biggest career highlights?
I've had lots! My first paid radio job was radio engineer at WBUR, where I watched over two adjacent reel-to-reel machines, creating the seven-second delay for a new program called "Car Talk" in late 1976 or early '77, long before the show went national.
When I was MD at WCOZ, we set a 12+ ratings record for a Rock station in a top-10 market that's stood since 1981. I helped launch WHJY/Providence, which was an instant success and is still doing great. I got to learn from Jeff Pollack, Tommy Hadges and Dave Brewer at The Pollack Media Group, where I worked with scores of Rock, Top 40 and Oldies client stations.
During my time as OM\PD at WEZX/Scranton, we took our programming to new levels and our Class A signal periodically beat three Class Bs with 25-54 Adults. My time there was enriched by all I learned from our GM, Jim Loftus.
I'm very proud of all the records and acts I've helped break over the years. And now I'm having the best time of my career at The Peak, where Chris Herrmann has been my Triple A guru. I'm playing the music I'm most passionate about to an audience that loves us back!
8. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Never stop learning and don't hesitate to contribute your ideas.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... Starbucks coffee and it's gotta be bold!
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
Uh, ice cream taster?
Last non-industry job:
Compiling and writing liner notes to The Best of Eric Burdon & The Animals 1966-1968. (I know it's "industry" but I like bragging about it)
First record ever purchased:
"Hey Jude" late summer 1968.
Chicago at The Spectrum in Philadelphia June 1973. Some guy Bruce Springsteen opened the show and nobody seemed to be interested!
Favorite band of all-time:
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Scrabble and "Mad Men."