10 Questions with ... Abby Goldstein
January 14, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started in radio in Beaumont, TX at my college station, KVLU, where I hosted a late-night jazz show on weeknights from 11p to 1a. From there I went to Dallas and spent six years on the air at KERA, back when it was a dual format NPR News/Triple A station. During that time, I handled promotions, PSAs and eventually became MD, as well as hosting afternoon music. That was followed by several years in commercial radio in Dallas at 93.3 The Zone, 99.5 The Wolf and 95.3 The Range, as well as spending time as a festival producer and booking agent for local bands. I went back to KERA as PD in 2000 and I moved to New Hampshire in 2006 to become PD at New Hampshire Public Radio. And now I'm incredibly fortunate to be the GM at the greatest Triple A station in the country - WYEP/ Pittsburgh.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
My mother was a huge radio listener. She grew up in the Golden Age of radio and when I was a child, radio was a major form of entertainment in our house. We listened to Jean Shepherd and Earl Dowd's Banana Paradise. I remember listening to Bob & Ray when I was a kid. When NPR came along in the '70s, my mother was hooked and we've been a public radio family ever since. When we moved to Beaumont, TX in 1978, my mother became involved with KVLU, the public station in town, and she eventually became Membership Manager. That's where I got my start, as a weekend board op and announcer at KVLU.
2. Tell us what you have been up to the past few years.
I've spent the past 12 years working as a PD in the public radio news and information format. Since 2006, I've been at New Hampshire Public Radio. I've also been serving on the Board of Directors of Public Radio Program Directors, Inc. (PRPD). It's nice to be back on the music side of the business.
3. You have always been committed to public radio; can you explain why that is the best home for you?
Public radio's goal is to fulfill its mission, which means that our programming philosophy is based on audience service, not service to shareholders or advertisers. During my brief stint in commercial radio, I had a PD who told me that the music was just filler in between commercials. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow that the music only mattered in so much as it drove audience numbers so the station could make more money -- with no intention of investing that money back into programming. Those words have stuck with me throughout my career and I feel that public service media reaches people and gives them enjoyment, knowledge and connection to their own community and the rest of the world. Audience service is the most important factor in public media; the revenue is there to support the audience service.
4. What are the biggest challenges facing public radio today?
All media faces big challenges today. For public media, demonstrating our relevance to the communities we serve will help us continue to build strong support and strengthen our public service. We must remain relevant to an audience that has many more choices than they once did. We must deliver unique value that keeps our community engaged with what we do.
5. WYEP has a long music-radio history in Pittsburgh, but I suspect you were drawn to joining the organization for broader reasons. Tell us about that.
WYEP's history is what makes this job such an intriguing opportunity and it's a huge reason why I am drawn to this station. WYEP has been serving the Pittsburgh area for almost 40 years and sustaining itself through community support the entire time. That is a testament to those who came before me and to the people of Pittsburgh who value this service. I see nothing but potential here to develop what WYEP has been doing so well and take it to the next level. There are new listeners to reach, digital opportunities to explore and new partnership to build. I've been looking for the perfect opportunity to move into station management and this seems to be the perfect fit. I'm truly excited to be here.
6. Tell us more about the station's multi-use facility.
This is an amazing space. Lee Ferraro had a brilliant vision when he conceptualized it. Our performance space holds about 80 people and is acoustically top-notch. It can be used for a variety of events and it seems that hardly a day goes by when the space is not being used for something. We have live music performances and forums; we teach classes in here, host private functions and recently our sister station WESA had a Ted X event with a live video uplink. It's a very versatile space.
7. Tell us about the education outreach the station does.
We are very dedicated to education and outreach at WYEP. We have a number of different programs for kids of all ages to learn about music, create audio and interact with the station and their own community. Every summer we host the Radio Rock Camp, a one-week day camp that immerses middle school-aged students in music, marketing and technology. We do adult classes as well. Our wonderful MD, Mike Sauter, teaches Beatles classes where he discusses specific songs in depth and plays rare outtakes and isolated tracks to people can hear how the song was crafted. We have a songwriting class coming up in January with Greg Joseph of The Clarks. It's a major part of what we do for the community.
8. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
That is a very difficult question. I guess I'd have to say that this medium offers us a unique chance to surprise and delight people in a very special way. Radio is like a transporter that can carry you to unlimited places and times in your life in surprising ways. I've always been fascinated by that aspect of this medium, that sitting alone in your car and listening to the radio, you can be swept away by something or touched so deeply that you're brought to tears or you laugh out loud. Being delighted is kind of a basic human need that we rarely give much thought to. But without surprise and delight, life would be dull. And what we do every day is a constant source of delight for millions of people.
9. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I'd either be a chef (probably a pastry chef) or a food writer.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... a piece of chocolate?