10 Questions with ... Brad Savage
October 26, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
First on-air position was with REV105/Twin Cities in the mid-'90s ... then to WHMH Rockin' 101 in St. Cloud MN and KVSC at St. Cloud State University ... and Cities 97 (KTCZ) in Twin Cities. Moved to Columbia, MO to do full-time programming in 2002 (KBBM 100.1 The Buzz (Active-Alternative) and 102.3 KBXR (Triple A). That led to Madison, WI and WMAD when it was Alternative, and to WQKL "107one" in Ann Arbor (Triple A). Joined Saga Communications to launch Triple A 106.1 The Corner (WCNR) in Charlottesville, VA in Fall 2006, and was there until joining WAPS/WKTL "The Summit" in October 2015. I'm replacing Bill Gruber, who was with WAPS for a remarkable 30 years (!!) until retiring this year.
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Growing up in the Twin Cities, we had great radio. Still do. I listened intently to WLOL/KDWB, KQRS, Z-Rock, KJ-104, Cities 97 and all the others. It is all I have ever wanted to do. Since 3rd grade, I have wanted to be in radio!
2. What prompted you to go after the WAPS gig?
There are a lot of "question marks" in radio's future. Competing platforms. New technologies. Discovery. Curation. I see a lot of programmers I greatly admire in Noncomm working on these issues every day. Long term, I think Noncomm will be better positioned as delivery and technologies evolve. There are pluses in working for a school system and terrific benefits for our growing family, plus a very favorable cost of living in NE Ohio. Additionally, I am philosophically ready to be part of a mission-driven, listener-supported non-profit organization.
3. How do you plan to adjust the music on the station?
WAPS is a very structured, usable and wide-appeal station. In fact, in some sense it is almost "too safe" for Noncomm. I want to be just a touch more edgy and discovery oriented, and continue the station's great track record of being a champion of new music, new artists, and musical discovery.
4. Tell us about your simulcast arrangement with WKTL/Youngstown.
Our primary format, "The Summit" is simulcast on 90.7 WKTL, a full signal owned by Struthers City Schools in Struthers-Youngstown-Warren, OH and NE Pennsylvania. This arrangement began around 2011 in certain hours when students were not on-air, and it has grown and evolved to an all-day arrangement, and the response to The Summit has been tremendous in Youngstown. They air heritage block programming on Saturdays, but Sunday-Friday is a full simulcast with WAPS. Youngstown-Warren is nearly 400,000 people; it's market #130, and we have Alternative and Triple A all to ourselves in this area.
5. You also have several side channels at the station. Tell us about them.
Our side-channels and additional formats are a major part of the mission and long term plans. We are airing three additional HD/Multicast/Webcast formats 24/7 in addition to The Summit. They include Summit Flashbacks (HD2) which is '80s New Wave; I plan to evolve and add in '90s Alternative. We have KIDJAM! Radio (HD3) which is a next-generation Top 40 format with positive messages and music for kids. It is aired at many of the Akron Public Schools in the lunchrooms and before classes. It is also heard at the Akron Zoo, and Boys & Girls Clubs in town.
Also, our Rock & Recovery (HD4) is a station dedicated to music and message for those dealing with addiction or trauma. The station mixes a wide-format eclectic Triple A music mix with inspirational stories of strength and hope. There's also a Rock & Recovery specialty show each night on The Summit, as Akron happens to be the birthplace of the modern recovery movement.
KIDJAM! and Rock & Recovery are programmed by respected, veteran programmer Garrett Hart who joined the station about five years ago. Garrett was half the reason I wanted to come join The Summit. The man is a wealth of ideas and knowledge.
6. What do you think of the current state of the Triple A formatted public radio?
There's a good handful of commercial stations I like a lot, but sadly each year a few more seem to evaporate from that list for various reasons. Yet there are more and more really admirable stations in the Noncomm/Triple A/indie world that are growing, year after year, and their impact is blazing the trail for what radio can and should be as we move toward 2016 and beyond.
7. What new bands are you most excited about?
The great question for radio is if we are song-driven or artist-driven. There's a lot of great songs, but I am hopeful that bands can keep following up on just that one moment and one song example. I feel hopeful given the recent success of full albums and multiple singles by bands like Dawes, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, Brandi Carlile and many others. The best bands that have staying power evoke emotion and ong-term fans ... beyond just a "this is a great single song" moment. Socan radio help break and champion that next tier of developing artists?
8. What stations do you like to keep track of?
Of course there's the usual list of marquee tastemakers and trailblazers, and I happily stream and follow playlists online. BUT, I find a great deal of inspiration in streaming international broadcasters from other countries that do Rock or Global CHR formats. For instance: Dubai 92 (UAE); Bandit Rock (Sweden); Eldoradio (Luxembourg); TX-FM (Dublin); Oui FM (France).
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
It's about the music. Focus on the music, play and champion new music, and the listeners and passion for the station seem to fall into place nicely.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
I love to travel, and never feel like I get to experience other areas enough. So, I would be a tour manager for some hard-working road warrior band. HA!
Last non-industry job:
I worked at Naturalizer Shoes at Rosedale Mall, in Roseville, MN
First record ever purchased:
"D.I.Y." import single 7" by Peter Gabriel at age 3.
Scorpions and Trixter at Met Center in Bloomington, MN (this was located where the Mall Of America stands today)
Favorite band of all-time:
Tough question. Tie: The Replacements, Material Issue and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Family! We have a wonderful two-year-old (David) and another on-the-way; my adjustment to family life is a major game changer for the future.