10 Questions with ... Dave Benson
August 17, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Stumbled in, fell forward, gained momentum. Saw great sights, heard great songs, met great people. Took a few detours and hit the beach. And then found myself here.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
A free-form "underground" station signed on in Madison, WI when I was a teenager. I talked my way in after doing an article for my high school newspaper. I started as an announcer doing midnight-2a.
2. Tell us about your role at Local Voice. What markets are you in?
I'm overseeing programming and helping with imaging and whatever else I can for stations in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, VA, Wilmington, NC and Columbia, SC.
3. Describe the business model for us.
Local Voice builds local newspaper websites and partners them with our local radio stations and sells advertising in combo on both platforms. We're hyper-local focused. Owner Tom Davis rejects Nielsen's flawed methodology and bases our sales effort on community connection and results.
4. Do you treat the stations in the group differently? The same?
Well, all of the stations have unique needs and goals, but we do have three Triple A stations that share similar music libraries. The Penguin, our Triple A in Wilmington, is a different kind of bird. Our two Country stations have unique approaches to their format as well.
5. Could the stations be considered a kind of network?
Yes. By rejecting the Nielsen process we're overlooked by Mediabase and others, but taken as a whole, we're adding a significant amount of airplay and commitment to the Triple A format and a potential audience of nearly three million people. I think Local Voice owns more Triple A stations than any other group in the country. Tom Davis is an ardent supporter of the format and has tasked me with helping to create the best Triple A stations we can. Call your congressman and tell him to help get Local Voice Triple A network on the Mediabase Triple A panel!
6. What are some of your biggest challenges?
Learning to work effectively from a small cabin in Northern California with a group of stations located on the Southeastern Coast.
7. How do you feel about the current climate of music?
Cloudy, turbulent and unpredictable with patches of brilliant sunshine and starry nights.
The music genres we're identified with are on the edges of true popular and profitable mass-music culture. We're a sideshow in a world dominated by Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Country and Pop music. It's not surprising that commercial radio and record company's support for the format is weakening.
8. What do you view as the most important issue(s) facing Triple A radio today?
The commercial format is underperforming nearly everywhere. KBCO/Denver-Boulder is the glaring exception. A few stations may be generating acceptable revenue for ownership, but who's really impacting their market? Who's leading? Who's trying to reinvent the format for a possible future? Stations all sound like copies of a copy of a copy of a station from 1999. I'm not saying I know better, but I think about this all the time.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Lying doesn't work.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
Beg someone to let me try.
Last non-industry job:
First record ever purchased:
The We Five's "You Were On My Mind."
The Mamas & The Papas, Dane County Coliseum, July 22nd, 1967.
Favorite bands of all-time:
Stones, Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny Group, Thelonius Monk, Robert Johnson, Leo Kottke, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Keith Jarrett, The Band, Rosanne Cash, Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, that Dylan guy...
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I have a well-documented case of wanderlust.