10 Questions with ... John McGue
February 16, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Got started right out of high school in 1983 on-air, and have done some sales and management. I was MD at WTTS/Indianapolis from 1990 to 1995, and was there when they flipped to Triple A.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was a huge fan of WLS/Chicago in the '70s -- that had a huge influence, I'm sure. I was never a huge record collector, but I was an avid radio listener.
2. Compare working at noncomm radio vs. commercial radio.
We have WAY more freedom here at WNKU; it really is about the music and not about the dollar. That's such an overused cliché, but really rings true here. Noncomm really does break new artists, and that never gets old.
3. How would you describe the music on WNKU?
All over the place, but in a controlled way that really, really flows. Jocks have probably more freedom here than any other station our size in the country. We have really good staffers with lots of experience who know exactly what to play, and when. We are very similar to a 1972 early FM AOR station, and we hear that from listeners every single day. Of course, they don't use the term AOR!
4. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
There's some great stuff out there -- many bands are DI -- and it's great if you can find it. I need to point out all the bad-ass talent that comes from our listening area in recent years. Walk The Moon, The National, Heartless Bastards, Sturgill Simpson, Elle King, Wussy and 10 more that you will be on your desk in the next couple of years. Now, that's a festival that I want to attend!
5. What other new bands are you most excited about?
I LOVE Liz Longley, I think she might just have a Kacey Musgraves year. Love me some Rhiannon Giddens and Trigger Hippy, too. The new Lone Bellow is even better than the first one, and that's pretty hard to do.
6. With the two added signals from a while back, how has this increased the reach of the station?
Yes, tremendously. You can drive from Richmond, IN to Charleston, WV, almost 300 miles and four states, and not miss a thing on WNKU. That's insane.
7. What are the station's plans to celebrate its 30th anniversary?
Next weekend we have a benefit for WNKU -- 30 bands over two days at Southgate House Revival. I can't wait. Wilco will be here in May celebrating their 20th; we are tying into that show and lots of others to celebrate our 30th. On our actual birthday in April, we are taking over Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati with an all-day concert. There is lots more that won't fit in this space!
8. You must be excited to have someone with Sean O'Mealy's experience joining the station as the new GM.
Sean starts next week ... yes, I can't wait. We have similar radio backgrounds in sales and programming. I plan on learning a lot from this guy, and can't wait to compare notes. He's dynamic, and has this energy that WNKU can use. We are very much looking forward to the next chapter at WNKU.
9. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
A small staff -- we had a supe- small staff before but add 134,000 watts and 35,000 square miles and we have a much smaller staff. There is a lot of work to go around.
10. What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Most would say technology and all the new ways to get music. I'd disagree. If you keep it real and live like WNKU -- and lots of us out there are doing that -- you will be fine. Wall Street and bad management are the biggest problem facing radio, but that horse left the stall a long time ago. WNKU is the only station in Cincinnati that hasn't changed call letters, owners or frequency in our 30 years of existence. Now we are the biggest FM in Cincinnati.
Last non-industry job:
I worked in a grocery sack factory in Marion, IN in 1984 -- that sucked.
First record ever purchased:
Probably AC/DC's "Back in Black" ... not really Triple A, but still one of the best records ever.
John Mellencamp, of course; it's required viewing by state law in Indiana.
Favorite band of all-time:
Not the Beatles.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Besides puppies and long walks on the beach, I still have two kids at home and that keeps me pretty busy. I am also addicted to Little Steven's Netflix series, Lilyhammer.