10 Questions with ... Amy Miller
July 20, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KZSC/Santa Cruz, CA - DJ for jazz and indie rock shows; Promotions Dir.
- KFOG/San Francisco - Programming Assistant
- WTYD/Williamsburg, VA - MD/PD
- KXT/Dallas- APD/PD
1. How did you become interested in radio?
I was always the kid who would call into the local Alternative station to request songs and win concert tickets for my friends and me. I loved radio, but never thought about it as a career until a couple of years into working at my college station. I was completely intrigued once I realized at most stations, there were one or two people in charge of scheduling the music for an entire day... who knew?
2. Since you have been there, has KXT adjusted its sound or mix at all?
A little bit. We're starting to incorporate some more new music and our sound is continuing to evolve. Now that the station is going on its sixth year and we've gotten over the hump of being a start-up, we're able to spend more time fine-tuning things.
3. How would you describe the music on the station?
Right now we're playing a pretty broad range of music. Our listeners value KXT as a place to not only discover new music, but expand their knowledge of the artists they might already be familiar with. This opens the door for us to play some of the deeper cuts from the legendary artists. We're also very supportive of local music and play a minimum one local artist every hour.
4. Tell us about the local music scene there.
I moved to Dallas last October and I never imagined the music scene would be as great as it is. The scene in Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton is getting really good. In the '90s and early '00s, there were a lot of mainstream Alternative bands from here, like the Toadies, Polyphonic Spree, Tripping Daisy, Old 97's, etc. And more recently, national artists like Midlake and Leon Bridges. There are so many local bands here that aren't known on a national level, but are on par with any of the best bands I've heard coming out of the big music cities like Portland, L.A., Brooklyn or San Francisco. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood in Dallas that has been revitalized within the last few years. You walk down the street there and it's lined with music clubs with great music coming out of them on any given night. A lot of musicians seem to be moving here from Austin, too, since the cost of living there has increased. The scene here is like a well-kept secret that the rest of the country will catch on to eventually.
5. Tell us about some of the cool benchmark events you are involved with
We do a concert series during the spring/summer called, "Barefoot at the Belmont." These are very intimate outdoor shows (about 200 people) that are held at the Belmont Hotel in Dallas. The artists play with the Dallas skyline behind them and tickets are very sought after. They sell out within minutes (sometimes seconds) of going on sale. This year we had Leon Bridges, Rhett Miller, Son Little and Holly Miranda play, among others. We pair each national artist with a local band.
We also have our Summer Cut festival coming up at the end of August, where we have two stages with both national and local bands, food trucks and vendors. This year we have Belle & Sebastian headlining, with Sarah Jaffe and Israel Nash.
6. What insights from the commercial side of programming are you bringing to this noncomm station?
I cut my teeth as a programmer at a privately owned, small-market start-up station and didn't have to worry about some of the things PDs have to at corporately-owned stations. For that reason, my insights might be a little different than some. I think that naturally my instincts tell me to play it a little safer than perhaps some programmers who have been doing noncomm for most of their career. I'm not sure if that's necessarily an insight, but I think it's something I bring over from commercial radio and could be beneficial in some circumstances when trying to grow our audience.
7. What resources does the greater KERA organization offer you?
KXT is very lucky that we can share some of KERA and KERA-TV's resources. We have an excellent film crew that comes from our TV station, so the live sessions we film in-house look great and we're starting to explore ideas for how we can utilize those resources. We also share some of KERA's air staff, as needed. Our marketing team works for both KXT and KERA (and Art&Seek - a North Texas resource for arts and culture), so we're able to effectively cross-promote events when it's fitting.
8. What do you see as the most pressing challenge for public radio?
Because there is such a broad spectrum of public radio stations, a lot of people have a misconception about what public radio is and its potential. There are a lot of stations out there that serve as training grounds for first-time DJs, and the programming is all over the place. Don't get me wrong - I think there's a place for that and it's necessary when you look at the big picture, but a lot of people don't realize there are format-focused music stations that are exactly what they're looking for when they're sitting there saying commercial radio doesn't have enough variety. I also think that because there are so many resources out there for acquiring music and media, it's becoming more of a challenge to stand out. That's why local relevance becomes a priority and is extremely important.
9. What are some the interesting things you are learning about the Dallas Metroplex?
I was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent 10 years on the East Coast, and I think my perceptions of the Dallas Metroplex were the same stereotypes that most people have. I was pleasantly surprised to see how great the arts scene is here. I knew the Dallas Metroplex was big, but I'm still getting used to having to drive everywhere - it's not a walkable city at all, which I got very used to living in Philly. I also never realized how many national artists either grew up here or got their start here: St. Vincent, Norah Jones and Erykah Badu, to name a few.
10. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Creativity is often more valuable than experience - sometimes the best ideas can come from interns or someone who has never set foot in a radio station.
If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
Probably something outdoors or with animals.
Last non-industry job:
99% of my non-industry jobs have been working in restaurants.
First record ever purchased:
I think it was either MC Hammer or Janet Jackson on cassette.
Steve Miller Band
Favorite band of all-time:
Impossible to answer.