10 Questions with ... Gene Murrell
September 23, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Worked in radio in college for several commercial stations in the Lakeland-Winter Haven Market. Got back into radio in 2001 when I went to work for Adventure/Triad Radio on Hilton Head Island. Became PD for Adult Standards WLOW-FM and then APD and ultimately PD for WWVV, Hilton Head's first Triple A station. In 2006, I took over as PD for WZEW in Mobile, AL and as we all know, I was let go twice and now am back.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I've always been a music geek and when I was a kid, I would put two stereos side by side and make my own tapes segueing from song to song. I would also create my own documentary-style radio shows. In high school, I used to run the board for the overnight guy at WZNG-A (unbeknownst to the owner) and that's when I first became exposed to real radio. After that I was hooked.
2. Who were/are your mentors?
Terry Carson, Bob Nuemann, Susan Groves and Tim Camp
3. What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
There have been many. I love doing interviews and when it's just you and artist sitting in a room and they are performing their songs for you -- songs you may not know or ones you grew up with -- and hearing the stories behind them. There's always a sense of awe surrounding that for me. Plus as a musician, I approach each interview from that angle, so it becomes two musicians talking about the music, not "What's your favorite color?"
The biggest highlight has been the 92Zew's and my involvement with The Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores. We are the flagship station for the event and are very involved with it year round. And during the festival we are down there broadcasting live for the entire time. It's an amazing event!
4. What have you been doing since leave WZEW and now returning?
First I took a nap. Then I went on the road as the tour manager for Laura Warshauer. She was opening for Bob Schnieder on his tour. That was awesome. I love the road and the clichés that go along with it. After the tour ended, I decided to move back to California (having lived there for many years and making my living as a musician) and hopefully work in some sort of music industry job, whether it be in radio, touring, what have you. I ended playing gigs to support myself and did a little acting. Michele Clark took pity on me and I helped out a little at her office and at Sunset Sessions.
5. What keeps you coming back to Mobile?
You know, it's funny, I've only been in Mobile for six years and if you had asked me where I would like to live, Alabama wasn't even on that list. No one is more surprised than I that I would move here and fall in love with it. It is a wonderful city with a fantastic heritage. The people are amazing and there is a real sense of community here. Even people who don't listen to the 92Zew know about it and we are very involved in the community, so we are always out and about. I've also gotten involved with the local theatres and I play in a piano bar one or two nights a week. Not to mention the Crimson Tide is the best football team there is (sorry, Mom). So coming back has really been like coming home.
6. With your third tour of duty at WZEW, what tweaks would like to see happen with the station?
Actually, the station is in the best shape it's been in since I've been involved with it. There is a real team attitude with staff -- and that is so important. Also, the new music that's coming out right now is really good and that is making the station sound even better. Sometimes things slip through the cracks, but as long as we can catch them in time we're okay.
The decision to make Tim Camp the PD was a smart one. He has such a clear idea of where he wants the station to go, and with me as his APD and Lee Ann as the MD, we can execute his dream. We are really working on everyone's strengths.
I have a lot of passion for this radio station -- actually for radio in general -- and this format especially. I don't think I have much ego, but I do have confidence in my ability. People have asked me, "Okay, you were let go twice before, are you sure you want to go back to that?" The truth is there has never been a problem with anyone here; both times they were economic decisions. It wasn't personal, it was just business (I heard that in a movie once).
7. Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Time management would be one. There simply never seems to be enough time. Also I think while I'm okay on air, I would always like to be better.
8. What is your typical day like?
I get in around 8:30-9a. First I make sure that there weren't any issues with the traffic department and the reconciliation of the logs. Then I get ready for my air shift; I'm on 10a-2p and while most of it is voicetracked, I do the Gumbo Shop (weekday themed hour at noon) live. I work on the logs, usually setting the currents and the specialty stuff, and then Lee Ann tweak it before we send it over. Also I do production, imaging, take music calls and so forth. I usually leave around 6p. Sometimes earlier, usually later and, of course, if there is an event going on, I'll go to that.
9. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I tried that this past year, but couldn't make anything stick. Seriously, I would love to teach. And, of course, I really do love riding the road.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
...music and laughter
Last Non-Industry Job:
First Record Ever Purchased:
Jesus Christ Superstar (actually I was six and it was a birthday present, but I knew it by heart). I think the first album I bought was ABC by the Jackson 5
Favorite Band Of All-Time:
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Playing music and working with the local theatre. Being on the water and traveling.