10 Questions with ... Jeff Penfield
June 1, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WIQH/Concord, MA (2003-2006) - Concord-Carlisle High School radio
- WERS/Boston (2006-2010) - PD, APD, and on-air
- WSGE/Charlotte, NC (2011-2013) - MD/APD, mornings and afternoons
- KCSN/Los Angeles (2013-present)
1. How did you become interested in radio?
For me, the radio bug hit somewhat by chance. I was fortunate enough to go to a high school that had a radio station, WIQH. My earth science class went there my freshman year to record a project and I saw that I could have my own radio show and broadcast sports, too. Radio combined my two biggest interests -- music and sports! I trained to become an on-air host, broadcast football and baseball games, and by my senior year became the student GM (I mainly applied to be Sports Dir., but GM sounded pretty cool, too). That experience led me to apply to Emerson College in Boston because I heard they had a great station: WERS.
2. Who are your mentors?
I wouldn't be where I am without the terrific training ground at WERS. GM Jack Casey imparts all of his experience to students and trains great professionals. OM D Simpson is not only a great mentor in radio; he passes on even better life lessons and I'm so happy to call him a friend after I graduated. WERS also allowed me to work with programming consultant Paul Marsalek while I was PD and he continues to be a valued resource. Now I'm fortunate to sit across the hall from Sky Daniels' office. He has given me a 360-degree view of the music industry and a whole new wealth of knowledge. I also have to recognize Ned Roos at WIQH for all the work he puts in for a unique after-school opportunity in Concord, MA and helping me find my love of radio.
3. What are you responsible for at KCSN?
My primary duty is to update the station's social media platforms. I also facilitate programming initiatives, execute promotions, upload live sessions, blog on KCSN.org, and just about anything else the station needs. With a small staff at a growing station, there's a lot of work to go around so I'm there to help wherever needed. I am also on-air Sundays 3-6p.
4. What do you like best about working at a Triple A station?
The music is one of the most attractive things about Triple A for anyone who works in the format. We get to play up-and-coming artists alongside deep cuts from established favorites. At KCSN, we take a lot of pride in supporting musicians first and foremost. We play at least one, usually more than one, Los Angeles-based artist an hour. To us, we succeed when the bands we play succeed.
5. Tell us about the weekday and weekend programming schedule at KCSN.
Weekday programming is highlighted by three veterans of Los Angeles radio: Nic Harcourt starts the day; Jim Nelson is on middays; and Sky Daniels rounds out the day until 7p. Weeknights start with World Café. Tuesday nights we simulcast Studio A, a live performance program from public TV station KCET. Thursdays we air The Latin Alternative, which is a great fit in our market.
Saturday, we have the long-standing "Saturday with the Beatles" program in the morning. At night, we feature three hosts with extensive experience in the market, including Fresh Catch with Jed The Fish, Out On A Limb with Julie Slater, and Mr. Shovel's City Of Night. Sunday includes a lot of variety with Bluegrass, Americana, Le Show with Harry Shearer, and even a Bob Dylan show. After my shift, we have famed L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn, Ann The Raven's blues program, and a local music show with Buzzband.La's Kevin Bronson.
6. What are some of the biggest challenges at KCSN?
We continue to build our reach and influence in the market, however, like any other station, we're spinning a number of plates at any one time. We keep our communication lines open to make sure we're on the same page, especially when many staff members are part-time and not always at the station.
7. Tell us about the progress on improving the station's signal reach.
Each year we add on a little more signal. A few years ago, we moved our booster in the Westside to a new location and improved our reach to Hollywood and down towards Culver City. More recently we added a new signal to the west in Camarillo, so we're expanding in all directions with more in the works.
8. What is your typical day like?
I normally arrive at the station around 9a. Sky and I may talk about the latest Cleveland sporting disaster or something we're working on at the station to start the day. Lately I've tried to stay off of e-mail for the first hour or two to keep focused on the tasks I already know I need to work on. Most days before lunch, I keep a close eye on the music news via Twitter or a great aggregator called Feedly to see if there's any up-to-the-minute content to share. If we have a band in for a live session, I make sure their needs are met should they need any refreshments or help setting up. Most days are really dictated by what the priority is, whether its social media, promotions, programming or membership.
9. What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
The best advice was to network with everybody. The first time I went to the Non-Commvention in 2009, I may have met five people. The next time I went in 2012, I met everyone I could. Opening myself up by walking up to anyone and everyone created so many new opportunities. Can't think of the worst advice I've gotten, but I'm sure there was something bad along the way.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I'd probably get into sports in some way. I'm a huge football fan and a little more than obsessed.
Last non-industry job:
The Container Store
First record ever purchased:
I think it may have been Pink Floyd's The Wall. I was a weird kid and liked all my Dad's music.
Robert Plant at BofA Pavillion in Boston during the Mighty Rearranger Tour.
Favorite band of all-time:
Led Zeppelin by a wide margin. I've read Hammer Of The Gods no less than three times and have 40+ albums related to Zep, including a vinyl copy of the soundtrack to the 1985 film Scream For Help by John Paul Jones.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Going to Disneyland, watching football, enjoying craft beer, talking about football, playing with Fezzik the puppy and writing about football.