10 Questions with ... Benji McPhail
March 21, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KGNU/Boulder - Promotions, On air - 1989-1992
- KBCO/Boulder, Overnights, Assistant Studio C Producer, Morning Show Producer - 1992 - 1996
- KRSH/Santa Rosa - Program Director, Mornings - 1996 - 2000
- Mediabase 24/7 - Field Researcher - 1999
- Radio One Networks - Program Director for Modern Rock affiliates - 2001
- KKPL/Fort Collins - Program Director - 2002 - 2004
- KCUV/Denver - Music Director, Mornings - 2004 - 2008
- KUNC/Colorado - Music Director - 2012 - Present
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Music has always been my biggest passion. I would have made a great rock star but, I have no talent. When I started college my goal was to become an MTV VJ. After volunteering at the local community station (KGNU), there was no going back. I was hooked.
2. Tell us about the split from KUNC to the new signal.
Up until the split, KUNC was one of three dual format public stations, (KCRW and KPLU are the others). It was obvious there was a need to create a 24 hour music station and a 24 hour news station, so we began the process of finding a station for purchase. KJAC was available and is located on the same tower as KUNC and has an almost identical footprint.
3. How would you describe the music on the station?
Great question. I'll let one of our listeners answer that. Here's a post from this morning's Facebook page:
"...in the last 3 hours, i've heard Ernest Ranglin (look him up...), madness, Captain Beefheart, Gillian Welch, Plum (Denver band-worth checking out), Damian Jurado, Jayhawks, Tom Waits (last 3 in one set back to back) and lots more. where else on the radio besides The Colorado Sound."
We call ourselves a music discovery station. In short we introduce our listeners to the best new music and remind them about the great music of the past.
4. How is the reach of the signal along the front range?
The signal is impressive. We reach north to Cheyenne, WY and south through Denver, CO and east all the way to Fort Morgan, CO.
5. You've gathered a great airstaff for the station. Tell us about them.
I got incredibly lucky with my hires. Keefer and I have been wanting to work together forever so, when I was putting this station together he was the first call I made. His years on the afternoon in Denver made it a no brainer to put him there. He does everything for us. He is our MDF/APD and all around glue that holds us together.
Our midday host is Margot Chobanian. I was introduced to her through Mike Henry. She has proven to be a tremendous addition. Her experience at Dave FM in Atlanta and by starting her own internet station, EAV radio, have given us an amazing outside perspective on developing the Colorado Sound. Plus, her musical taste and knowledge are off the charts.
Ron Bostwick is another person I have wanted to work with forever. I have known Ron since he was the morning show producer at KBCO. We remained connected through his work at eTown. He already knew how to make a great morning show so we are putting those skills to the test.
We also have Chris K for weekends and Erin O'toole from our sister station KUNC, does news with Ron in the morning. This is a dream staff. I couldn't have asked for a better crew to start the station.
6. What marketing are you doing to get the word out?
Currently we are doing a lot of grassroots marketing. Connecting as much as we can to the music community has given us a lot of instant credibility. We are also quite active on social media and have formed partnerships with other media outlets to help spread the word.
7. How are your music meetings conducted?
Everyone on the staff listens to a ton of music, so Monday morning every one brings in their favorites and we listen. We pick the best and remove what's crispy. We look at the charts and BDS to see how things are going if we have any questions.
8. What do you view as the most important issue facing public radio today?
The biggest issue for public radio is how to attract younger listeners. There are so many choices for the audience that the biggest hurdle is educating younger listeners that we have more to offer. There is a stigma that their parents listened to NPR, so it might not be cool. We counter that with some really creative imaging and by taking the lead with new music. As a result, we have kept the upper demo happy and brought on a lot of younger listeners as well.
9. What do you think of the current state of the Triple A format?
Overall I think the format is strong. It really depends which side of the fence you are on. Noncomm seems to be a little stronger over all. I think most listeners are fatigued with the amount of commercials that are played. I am so fortunate that The Colorado Sound provides its audience with incredible music and no commercials.
10. What is your typical day like?
There is no typical day! Today I had to put out a playlist fire. Next our weekly music meeting. Following that it was a management meeting then more music. Throw an air shift in there and a phone meeting with our consultant (Mike Henry) and an air check session. That's kind of a typical day. I leave the house at 5:30 am and get back at 7 pm.
Last non-industry job:
Truck Driver for a recycling plant
First record ever purchased:
The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope
Rolling Stones/Heart/George Thorogood - Folsom Field, Boulder, CO 198
Favorite band of all-time:
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Cycling, yoga, cooking and dogs.