10 Questions with ... Kelly Ransford
February 2, 2015
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I've always been a music nerd. As a kid I loved listening to the radio and talking music with my older brothers. Weekends were spent in record stores purchasing everything I heard that week. I never wanted to turn the radio off -- my parents' only form of punishment was to take away radio privileges. When I graduated from college in Wisconsin, the plan was to go into Marketing and I was fortunate enough to land a Promotions gig at sister station, B96, here in Chicago.
2. Who were/are your mentors?
Dave Benson is a mentor in both work and life. I was fortunate enough to work with him for many years and in a few different markets. My gratitude toward him is never ending. Dwight Walker, the former KFOG GM, had significant impact on how I approach radio. Jeff Schmidt, former KFOG Creative Director and sardonic extraordinaire, continues to mentor and inspire me. Scott Arbough and John Bradley are also two mentoring gems. I'm beyond thankful and excited to add Norm Winer to that list - every day is fascinating.
3. What have you been up to since you left KFOG?
I moved to Seattle for a stint as Promotions Director at KNDD (The End) and KMTT (The Mountain) (pre- and post- first flip). Then decided to get closer to my brothers so I moved to Vermont. I was doing Marketing and social media for various nonprofits - mainly focused on sustainable living, farm to school programs and so on, but also for local ski resorts and farmers' markets. I loved it. I adopted an awesome dog, Coltrane, and hiked/snow-shoed every day. Also had a blast doing some fill-in shifts at WNCS (The Point) with Zeb and Mike! Great station, awesome people and a lot of fun.
4. It must be exciting to work at an iconic station like WXRT and with the one-and-only Norm Winer. Tell us about that.
It's incredible and I walk in every day still amazed by it all. I grew up listening to WXRT and have been a P1 for over 30 years! I sent my first resume to WXRT out of college (in Marketing) and have been building my resume for the past 20 years to finally make it in. The fact that a job only opens here every 30 years speaks volumes about the station and CBS.
My first air talent meeting here was mind-blowing. The amount of talent, knowledge, history and kindness in the room - completely overwhelming and humbling. They are all my favorite rock stars and I am still blown away seeing them in my office/on the air. I could listen to their stories all day. Watching Norm work is like seeing a hybrid of a conductor directing this beautiful masterpiece, a wizard spinning crazy magic and Willie Wonka creating candy. Fascinating. His creativity, energy and passion for both radio and music has no limits. Music meetings with a fellow music nerds with similar tastes in tunes is awesome. And it's trippy that Norm wants to add more songs than I do!
5. What new music are you most excited about?
Too many to list but a few: The Decemberists are one of my favorite bands but without bias, I think their new album is gorgeous. I also like the new albums from Father John Misty and Calexico. Very much looking forward to Alabama Shakes. Plus Django Django can't come fast enough. The Amazing and Viet Cong are also top rotators in the car. Also, I just heard the new My Morning Jacket and it is amazing!
6. What has been your biggest career highlight?
The entire time I was with Susquehanna ... KFOG was a highlight. Such a unique experience for everyone. And, as I mentioned, the first WXRT air staff meeting was definitely one for the books. Musically - maybe introducing Peter Gabriel to my brother, who turned me on to him when I was seven.
7. What stations do you like to keep track of?
Noncomm faves: KCMP, WXPN, WFUV, KKXT. On the commercial side, KBCO, KGSR, KROQ, WRNR, The Point.
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
For the format specifically, I'd say it would be companies losing faith and forcing stations to mainstream so much that they lose the essence and sound of Triple A as well as the ability to support SO MANY outstanding, talented artists. Because of that, music fans will turn to countless other avenues to hear and get exposed to the new music they want.
9. What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Become tech-savvy and always evaluate the latest/newest platforms as ways to reach your audience. They should be used as an essential function of the station, not as a side note. Programming radio is only part of the gig. Master podcasting and all social media assets is crucial.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... spinning vinyl at least once.
First record ever purchased:
Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band
Favorite artist of all-time: