10 Questions with ... Rich Robinson
October 27, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Worked at a lot of record labels; ran WHTG for a long time; programmed a bunch of other stations; worked on Sirius; been fired a few times.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Listening to Dan Ingram on WABC
2. What do you like best about your job?
Answering questionnaires; finding great music; and helping the students here at Brookdale Community College discover radio.
3. What is your biggest challenge?
No budget; no time.
4. With your Asbury Park connection, how do you tap into the local music scene?
We've focused on playing more local music than any other station in the market. I've always believed that the Shore has a very diverse, exciting musical heritage, and it's to our benefit to be directly associated with it. It's one of the major reasons why we've been voted the best local station every year that I've been here.
5. What are some of the annual benchmark promotions you do?
We're tied in with the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation's annual music festival, as well as the annual seafood festival in Belmar, NJ; the oyster fest in Asbury Park; the Light of Day concerts in Asbury Park in January; and a couple of adopt-a-thons at the local SPCA. Our big station event is our Songwriters in the Park concert series each July/August in Red Bank. They're free shows on the banks of the Navesink River. Great location, great PR. Stuff like that.
6. With the station being on the air for 40 years as of October, what are your plans to celebrate this milestone?
My first thought was to take advantage of the "early bird specials" that are available at this advanced age; but seriously, we're doing several things, such as getting some of our alumni to send in some voice over; we're also doing some historical sweepers, using a catch-phrase like while Reagan was president and Cheers was the top show, 90.5 was on the air, serving the communities of Monmouth and Ocean Counties...; and we're putting together an hour long special that will air towards the end of the celebration.
7. How has the station's sound evolved over that time?
Over the four decades the station has gone from a free-form AOR station (bet you haven't seen those initials in a while) to the weirdest mix of genres I've ever heard (they used to have to mix country, show tunes, rock, folk and jazz, all in the same set). Then to full-time jazz, to part-jazz/part-triple A, with a ton of NPR programming to what it is now -- a 24-hour Triple A, with top of the hour NPR newscasts. All of the numbers, both audience and bottom line, indicate that we've made the right decision moving to where we are now.
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing public radio today?
One word: Fundraising. Each year, less government funding means more pledges from our listeners. Here at 90.5 we've had a lot of success with our private concerts, where we invite our pledging members to a brunch or dinner, with an acoustic performance from artists like Peter Himmelman, Ellis Paul, Steve Forbert and many others. It's a program that is working great for us, but we could really use some help from the labels. We need artists who not only appreciate the value of public radio, but are 'big' enough to garner significant pledges.
9. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Stay in school. Try a business course or two. Rethink your career path, and if you're still going to get into this business, learn how to mix drinks. It will come in handy.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... my wife, my dog, and a bucket load of coffee.
Last non-industry job:
First record ever purchased:
Badfinger "Straight Up"
I was brought to a Supremes concert. The first tickets I bought were for George Carlin with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show.
Favorite band of all-time:
Mott the Hoople / Big Star / Free
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
What is this spare time you speak of? Honestly, I would say that I enjoy running, cooking, drinking some wine and watching cool movies.