10 Questions with ... Randi Kirshbaum
November 17, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KQRS/Minneapolis 1970-1975
- WKTK/Baltimore 1975-1976
- WHFS/Washington DC 1976-1978
- WBCN/Boston 1978-1983
- WMGX/Portland, ME 1982-present
- WCLZ/Portland, ME air personality since 2011, just took over as Brand Manager
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was one of those kids who went to bed with a transistor radio (I know I'm dating myself) under my pillow. I grew up in Minneapolis and LOVED to listen to WLS out of Chicago. When I met John Landecker for the first time, shortly after I started in radio, I felt like a giddy teenager. Oh wait ... I was a giddy teenager.
2. Now that you are over-seeing WCLZ are there any changes/tweaks you want to make to the station?
I don't know yet. Ethan Minton, the former Brand Manager, left the station in excellent shape. He definitely had his finger on the pulse of the community. Maybe I won't play quite so much Steve Earle and Patty Griffin (Ethan's favorites).
3. For those that have never heard the station, how would you describe the sound of WCLZ?
WCLZ is like a community radio station that through some freak occurrence happens to be owned by a publicly-traded media conglomerate. The music is broad ranging, but I would say the glue that holds it together is singer/songwriters. We play everything from John Gorka and Maia Sharp to Guster and Robert Cray, with some Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen thrown in for good measure. We also are committed to local musicians. We feature local artists as a regular part of our playlist, and we run a one-hour specialty show twice weekly with nothing but local music. In addition, we are highly community focused and environmentally active. WCLZ is Maine's only carbon neutral radio station.
4. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
Love it! There's so much diversity in Triple A, something for everyone. After programming Hot AC for so many years, I feel like a kid in a candy store. And actually, Hot AC has gotten a lot better too, drawing from pop, country, Triple A, hip-hop. This feels like a very fertile musical time. With artists having numerous avenues for distribution, many of the limitations have been lifted.
5. Tell us a bit about the Portland market.
Portland is a small big city, very cosmopolitan. We have all the amenities of a large city without the hassles. And we're on the ocean with natural beauty that's unsurpassed. Because of this, Portland is an extremely desirable location in which to live. Lots of major-market radio talent choose Portland as a place to settle down, so the quality of what you hear on the air here is far superior to similar-sized markets.
6. What Triple A stations outside of the market get into town? Does this affect your programming approach?
No other Triple A stations come into the market. However, the #1 cuming station in town is the public radio station, and they offer a number of music-focused shows like World Café and Mountain Stage, as well as a locally programmed show featuring many of the artists we play. I admire these shows and would like to use a marketing strategy of being an underwriter at some point in the future.
7. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
Being true to the listeners who feel as though they have a stake in this station. They are engaged and vocal, and don't want to be reminded that WCLZ is a commercial enterprise. So walking the fine line between being fiscally accountable to our stock holders and maintaining the integrity of the programming requires creativity, compromise and problem solving skills.
8. What has been your biggest career highlight?
I have two. I am proud to say that I was the first female with a regular DJ show (as opposed to a recipe feature) in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market. Of course I started in radio when I was 10 :). The other accomplishment of which I am very proud was being inducted into the Maine Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006.
9. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Get into a radio station in any capacity and then do anything and everything. Make yourself as valuable as you can. Learn every aspect of what makes a radio station run. Never say no; in fact, always say "what more can I do?" Be proactive! The people who do this are the future of radio. They will make their way up the ladder, and someday be asked to answer "10 Questions" in a trade publication.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I have worked in radio since I was 16 years old. I've never had a "real" job. I'm not suited for anything other than radio, so I guess radio is stuck with me.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Time away from work? What's that? I spend time with my husband, kids (twin teenagers, and a son who just started college), Golden Retriever and two shelter cats. My dog and I run on the beach in the winter and swim in the lake in the summer. We have a lake cabin (upta camp is what we say here in Maine) and it's my favorite place on earth. I kayak, swim, float and just stare at the lake for hours.
And I read, I am a voracious reader, especially since I discovered audio books. Maybe I should say I am a voracious listener. Whoever invented audiobooks was sent to this earth by a loving Deity who knew that time starved people could only "read" in their car, and that's kind of dangerous. I also watch a few select appointment shows on TV while cuddling in bed with my husband. Okay is that TMI?