10 Questions with ... Ira Gordon
November 30, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
20 years in Denver radio: two at KAZY, four at KFML (PD), 10 at KBCO and three at KDHT (PD). KBAC Radio Free Santa Fe is getting ready to celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2016
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Growing up in Los Angeles I was able to listen to some of the greatest stations: KRLA, KPPC, KROQ. I didn't think I would go into radio but I wanted to play the bands I loved for other people (at the time it was pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd). I did a late-night shift KUCI (Univ. of Calif. at Irvine when at college) and was bit by the bug to try and make a career out of it.
2. You have been in Santa Fe 20 years now and have seen KBAC go through several owners. Tell us about that.
We started with a small radio group, Roberts Radio, who sold the chain to Clear Channel in year five. We spend three years as their critical darling, then another three as they worked on dismantling our success. In 2006, Scott Hutton was leaving AGM and consolidating all of the stations in Santa Fe under a single owner and he made us an offer we couldn't refuse. Our Business Manager and myself had found an investor and we were going to buy it but he dropped out at the 12th hour ... Seriously, we received an e-mail at midnight the night before we were going to sign the papers, buying the station back from EMF.
3. Your current owners - Hutton Broadcasting - seem committed to radio in the market. How has it been going so far?
Hutton put this group together in 2007 and has great vision. We were jumping on the digital/streaming/website platforms very early on. We like to think of the group as small-market stations that could do quite nicely in large markets. Our owner gives us the freedom to do our job.
4. KBAC has a unique music mix -- for those that have never heard the station, how would you describe the sound?
I like to think of us as a Triple A/Alternative hybrid. We have been out front on The National, War on Drugs, Beach House, Bastille, Elle King, Sharon Jones, Phoenix, Fitz & The Tantrums. We look for tempo. We did not touch Sam Smith or the Adele. We play very little Classic Rock.
5. What are the other formats in your group?
KBAC is the Triple A; we have Outlaw Country, JAM'N (a Top 40 /classic Hip-Hop hybrid), and KVSF, The Voice of Santa Fe, which has a local morning show and syndicated talk the rest of the day. Our AMs are ESPN and KTRC, Progressive Talk.
6. How do you balance your efforts between KBAC and the other stations in the group?
I'm directly responsible for KBAC, The Voice and JAM'N. I have two PDs who handle the AMs and the Country station. I have to be honest, having lived most of my career in the Triple A/Progressive Rock world, it was a learning experience to get up to speed on Top 40, Hip-Hop, and Talk. I'm still learning! Sometimes I feel like I'm working 24/7 in one way or the other with no time off between programming, an air shift and attending to promotions for three stations.
7. Tell us about you aggressively include community activities and organizations in your daily programming.
I've always felt the key to a new station becoming successful is having the non-profits get behind you first. It's such a warm and fuzzy way to give them a media voice and to introduce yourself to the community at large. They do sit up and take notice. In these days when artists are crossing over to multiple formats, listeners can get the new Adele anywhere. We can also provide them with valuable information to stand out.
8. Honey Harris has a successful morning show on KBAC. Tell us about her on-air style and influence in the market.
Honey is like a homing pigeon when it comes to Santa Fe. She made her name in the market starting with KIOT under Mike Marrone, left for California a couple of times but always returned. She did middays at first for KBAC and then returned to do mornings when our eight-year morning jock left. It's been 10 years and she is a staple of the market and the station, continually named in "Best DJ" category by our local Alternative paper. On the show she flies solo with lots of interviews, local musicians, and with all of her experience she's allowed to program her own music. She is constantly requested for MC hosting duties at events, even if we are not sponsoring them. She is beloved by listeners, clients, and the city in general.
9. Best advice for young programmers/promotion people?
The system operates a year behind, get out in front of that "system" ... Be brave, stand up for yourself and your beliefs.
10. Fill in the blank. I can't make through the day without ...
Last Non-Industry Job:
Record store in the '80s
First Record Ever Purchased:
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" by Rolf Harris - 45 and "Meet The Beatles" - album
Jefferson Airplane and The Doors -- 1967
Favorite Bands Of All-Time:
Bruce Springsteen / Pink Floyd / Jerry Lee Lewis / Burning Spear / Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen / Milt Jackson / McCoy Tyner
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Watch movies, snorkeling.