10 Questions with ... Geno Pearson
October 28, 2013
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. when I saw you could get a degree in Radio & TV, 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 2008-2010m 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 to get it started. That, of course, has changed now, with us being broadcast on FM as well as streamed.
3. 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. Another popular local talent, Michael "Hurricane Shane" Schoenherr, has recently joined the station.
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. 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. Tell us about the new arrangement you have to broadcast via the radio in Birmingham.
We have a very unique arrangement with Summit Media. Based on our agreement, we continue to make the decisions on programming and Summit is spearheading sale. We have a very equitable partnership when it comes to revenue.
7. Have you have to adjust your programming in any significant way?
We haven't changed programming at all since going FM. We are going by the theory, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The only thing that has changed is our stopsets: When we were online only we only had two minutes of spots per hour. When we went FM we went to four minutes per hour. As of Oct. 1st we expanded to six minutes an hour because we were sold out!
8. Are you feeling anything back yet from the increased reach?
Incredible feedback so far. It has surprised us and Summit. We pretty much had advertisers waiting to get called back so they could get on the air with us. So much positive feedback from listeners who can now hear us in more places than before. It has shown also in the increase of bands coming to town already and selling out the venues when they do. We have sold out shows at 850 and 1,300-capacity venues on a weekly basis which before would have occurred once a month or every other month.
9. Has there been any marketing to get the word out?
We will be putting together an official marketing plan going forward but as it stands, we have had great press across all media platforms to help spread the word. Lots of coverage on TV and in the newspaper. Social media has been huge for us, too; our Facebook numbers have exploded in the past three months. We are now over 10K. Even Southern Living did an article on Birmingham last month and they mentioned us and the role we are playing in town. So overall things couldn't be going much better than they are already!
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 bad-ass at it. He gets that from his mom because I suck as an athlete.