10 Questions with ... Dave Leonard
June 16, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KMTN -- evening DJ 1987-1989
- WDST 1989-91 -- eveningDJj
- WKZE - 1991-96 -- started FM format, PD, Regional Sales Manager, afternoon drive
- WDST - 1995-98 --PD, afternoon drive
- Radio Woodstock 1998-01 -VP/Programming
- Host of radio UNLEASHED 1991-Present
- Owner. JTD Productions 1987- resent
1) How did you become interested in radio?
Growing up on Long Island, I always listened to WNEW and WPLJ, which were good stations but my musical world opened up for me when I found WLIR and started being exposed to a whole different kind of music.
Freshman year at Denison University, I took a one month January Term course in radio broadcasting and by the end of the year was on the air with my own show. I continued working there as a DJ and as PD until I graduated.
2) Who were/are your mentors?
My father has had a major influence in my life. While I've taken a very different path than he did, he's supported me, pushed me and held me be accountable over the years. Both of my grandfathers instilled a work ethic that I apply in everyday life. Dave Einstein was very helpful when I was getting WKZE off the ground and I appreciated his artistic sensibility and business savvy. I haven't met him personally but Michael Gerber, author of "The E-Myth," has had a major influence on how I operate on a daily basis in my life and career.
3) Tell us a bit about radio UNLEASHED.
The show started in 1991 as a four-hour weekend slot on WKZE back when the station was basically block news and music programming. It gained in popularity and within a year it was the foundation for the entire station's programming philosophy. It started with a lot of the core Triple A artists, but as they were receiving more regular airplay, I had to stay ahead of the curve. Quickly, the show became kind of a testing ground for all the new music.
My mission with radio UNLEASHED is to keep music lovers happy, and while they love being turned on to a lot of new music, they also love having some forgotten gems and old-school favorites thrown in. I strive to find that balance and the mix has worked as an entire format and as a specialty show, and listeners new and old consistently e-mail the stations or me directly every week asking about songs and artists I played, openly appreciating the segues and entire shows.
4) How would you describe the music on the show?
I have very eclectic tastes and we touch on many genres and play a lot of new music. The one common denominator is what I call music with teeth. That certain something that makes a song stand out in its genre. Music with teeth is anything: it can range from old soul, acoustic independent artists, Classic Rock and hip-hop to jazz and newer electronic/experimental bands. I have access to a lot of music coming directly out of the local studios before they are or mastered and I play a handful of unsigned artists that listeners can't hear anywhere else.
5) What is the mix between old and new music?
Aside from the occasional themed show, I'd say each week we are introducing or playing at least 60-70% new music and artists, surrounded by some currents and classics from over the past 50 years -- from any genre. Finding the perfect segue between these different tracks is a blast, something that I think most DJs really pride themselves on and I'm no different: My show flows like mad and when I'm really on; there's nothing like it.
6) What current bands are you currently excited about?
I like War on Drugs, Parquet Courts, Oil Boom, Colony House, Neulore, Echosmith, Ages and Ages, Johnnyswim, 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco, Alt-J, Shovels & Rope, Allah-las, Lake Street Dive, First Aid Kit, and after seeing Hozier live, I want to hear more if his stuff.
7) What is your biggest challenge to get stations to pick up your show?
As you know, there's a wide range in how much new music a station will play. My show is hard to pigeonhole. While it is definitely new-music-intensive, I also play songs and artists that might already be in a station's library (although I might be two or three songs deep while they might be playing the single). I can also cross over many genres that some stations won't dive into in their regular programming. radio UNLEASHED can get rootsy, folky, edgy and take a trip down memory lane whether it be a Classic Rock song or a core Alternative band.
While it is two hours of solid branded programming, some stations might not want to take a risk on being that eclectic or playing undiscovered or unproven new music, but from my perspective, that's what gets most listeners most excited.
The show has been on the air for 23 years and has a proven track record of reaching and engaging music lovers who want to support the artists, sponsors and the station itself.
8) How can stations acquire the show if they are interested?
It is so easy. Call Nellie Munafo at (845) 853-8912 or e-mail me directly at email@example.com. Distribution is simple and the show is free. I have one major national sponsor and there are avails for 12 minutes of local and branded sponsorship.
9) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
I have strived to keep my artistic integrity while also being self-sufficient and running a successful business that meets a need in the marketplace. I love what I do and have made a living following my passion and bringing people together through music.
10) If you wanted to change careers today, what would you do?
Run for mayor, be a landscape architecture and/or a counselor to help those who have an issue with substance abuse.
Last non-industry job?
DJ for weddings, parties and producing events
First record ever purchased?
Manfred Mann "Blinded by the Light" was my first '45, Yes "Fragile" my first cassette, Led Zeppelin "Houses of The Holy" my first vinyl album and U2 "The Joshua Tree" my first CD.
REO Speedwagon - Nassau Coliseum
Favorite band of all time?
Pink Floyd and The Clash have both been very influential in my life
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Spending as much time as possible with my two daughters Eva (12) and Luci (9)